When Tre Brown was voted the best cover corner at the Senior Bowl — by those receivers he covered — perhaps the only one who wasn’t surprised was Tre Brown himself.
“You know, he’s got athletic arrogance,” former Seahawks and Falcons head coach Jim Mora Jr. told SI Sooners. “He doesn't believe anyone can beat him. And I’m not saying he’s an arrogant person, but he steps on the football field, it’s like, ‘Hey wait a minute, man. I’m the guy, not you.’ He’s one of those guys that, if he gets beat, he looks at his shoes. ‘It couldn’t have been me; it had to be my shoes.’ You know? And I like that in a cornerback.”
Mora’s old team, Seattle, likes it too — enough that they selected Brown No. 137 overall in the fourth round in Saturday’s NFL Draft.
Brown hopes that athletic arrogance serves him when he reports to camp and lines up against the Seahawks receivers. Turns out he’s getting exactly what he said he wanted back at his pro day.
Asked a month ago which receiver he’d like to go against, he picked one of Seattle’s best.
“Definitely D.K. Metcalf,” Brown said. “They talk all about his physical traits, how he’s fast. He’s just a beast. That’s definitely a guy that I want to go up and show what I can do against him and try to hush the silence and just be competitive."
Now Brown heads to the Emerald City hoping he can back that up.
“Am I faster than him?" Brown echoed. "If we add it up, definitely. You can tell him right there, if you’re close to D.K. Metcalf, tell him we can line that up, definitely.”
Brown was a three-year starter at Oklahoma after entering the lineup late in his freshman year. Undersized at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Brown played with a confidence and a ferocity that belied his stature.
He also played with elite speed. He ran a 4.4 time in the 40 at his pro day but said he was disappointed he didn’t hit low 4.3s or high 4.2s. Sound preposterous? Maybe it’s not.
His rundown of Baylor speedster Chris Platt in the 2019 Big 12 Championship Game was clocked by NextGen Stats as the fastest football play by any ballcarrier since NextGen began tracking times in 2016. Brown’s top speed was 23.3 mph, which exceeded Tyreek Hill’s NFL mark of 23.24.
Brown also has a penchant for timely big plays. He sacked Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger for a safety that iced the 2018 Big 12 title game. He intercepted Ehlinger in the fourth overtime to clinch the 2020 Red River Rivalry. And his two 43-yard kickoff returns in the 2020 Big 12 Championship Game sparked the OU offense to momentum points and sparked the offense to life each time in a 27-21 win over Iowa State.
But Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley seems most impressed with Browns journey as a top-flight defensive back.
“I think his evolution as a defensive back and as a corner,” Riley said, “He came here very, very raw. A guy that really didn’t trust and buy into technique or the intense preparation you have to have to be great, relied on his outstanding physical skills that he does have. So he was able to play but had a lot of room to grow. He’s gotten a lot better in those areas, there’s no question. He’s become a more committed player. He’s really zeroed in on technique a lot more throughout his career.”
Brown is the first OU corner taken in the draft since 2016, when Zack Sanchez went to Carolina in the fifth round, and is the Sooners' highest-drafted corner since Aaron Colvin went in the fourth round (No. 114) to Jacksonville.
Brown himself said he was proud of that evolution during his four years in Norman.
“I’m a versatile guy,” he said. “If you play man, if you play zone, whatever you play. I don’t have a choice. Whatever team that picks me, I’m going to be grateful for whatever chance that I get. That’s the team I’m going to fall in love with, that’s the team I’m going to be glad that I went to because I’m going to go out there and be very productive and competitive.”