Cameron Erving or Laken Tomlinson would have been options for the Patriots, had either made it to No. 32. But as it all worked out, you probably will not hear anyone complaining in Foxborough. New England closed Round 1 by taking Texas defensive lineman Malcom Brown, a 319-pounder with a quick first step. More importantly, Brown has the type of versatility that Bill Belichick craves up front—he can play a five-tech, a three-tech or even slide down and play nose. He'll fill some of the snaps vacated by Vince Wilfork's departure, but do so while offering more three-down potential than the run-stuffing veteran. Brown was productive at Texas, and he's a great value for New England here.
Strengths: Shoots gaps well up front, especially for a player of his size. Moves well laterally, too, so he can stay involved in run plays and succeed if forced to adjust his initial pass-rush angle. Quick reactions off the snap, which Brown complements by getting his hands forward to deliver initial contact. Seems to have a good feel for the game—does not just bull rush without a plan, but rather seeks out the football and chases it. Able to use his power when necessary. Keeps his feet moving, rarely getting bogged down during a play. Capable of playing just about anywhere along the D-line, including end in a 3-4. Had no problems moving around in Texas's scheme. Stout against the run and should be able to make waves there as a rookie.
Weaknesses:Not as far along as a pass-rusher as his numbers indicate. Still needs to work on Plans B and C for penetrating the line because he relies so much right now on his get-off. Counter-moves are lacking. Can be bullied a bit by powerful blockers and coughs up way more ground than is ideal when faced with a double team. Should be better at converting his athleticism to power. A snap count may be in order for Brown as a rookie, because he can be worn down some.
Player comparison: Terrance Knighton
GALLERY: SCENES FROM THE NFL DRAFT