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Hot Take Tuesday: Spencer Brown Worthy of First-Round Selection

Should Spencer Brown, the Northern Iowa tackle, be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft?

The three most important positions in the NFL are quarterback, left tackle and pass rusher.

There is a reason why those players go very early in the draft and they can be mediocre at the position and still make a tremendous amount of money in the league. There is a premium for each and few teams can say they feel strong at any of the three, let alone all three. So how do teams gain an advantage over their peers at these positions?

It is easy to say draft Andrew Luck or Trent Williams but those players are top-five picks and usually no-brainers. For those selecting after the few blue-chip players are off the board, teams will need to look elsewhere. It usually involves players who have blemishes. Whether they don't have great production, missing requisite measurables, or went to a smaller school, players like that fall in the draft. The one player in this year's draft class that fits this theme is Northern Iowa tackle Spencer Brown.

Coming out of high school, Brown was a 6-foot-8 tight end who weighed around 220 pounds. He was a multi-sport athlete, also excelling in basketball and baseball. Those are a few important boxes to check off that can't be overlooked. He was athletic enough to play multiple sports, wasn't solely focused on football and hadn't had experience at tackle.

Fast forward a few years and 100 pounds later, and Brown is popping up on the NFL draft radar. Based on size alone, Brown was worthy of being drafted, but the tape he displayed at his size was incredible. Most guys his size struggle because 6-foot-8 players aren't supposed to move well. That was the exact opposite with Brown. He moves fluidly in pass protection, his kick-slide is phenomenal and he rarely lets defenders get anywhere near the quarterback. Combine his height with long arms for the position and Brown stood out from the first snap until the end of each game.

It didn't matter if it was an FCS or FBS opponent; it was easy to see that Brown was the best player on the field. When watching small-school players, they should stand out without even knowing who they are. That was Brown on Northern Iowa's tape. There were some things to work on in the run game, but since he declared for the NFL Draft, he has been working on run blocking with former All-Pro tackle Joe Staley. With several months of training under Staley, he will be much improved technically in both pass protection and the run game.

At the Senior Bowl, Brown improved drastically during the week. After having not played in more than a year, there were some growing pains early, but that should be expected. He was going up a level in competition and almost everyone else had played a season. Rather than letting it get to his head, Brown finished the week strong. That shows a player who is mentally right for the next level, which is half the battle.

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The work ethic is evident, as few players have the dedication and commitment to reshape their bodies like Spencer did. Combine that with his mentality and and it is a winning formula for the position. What makes Spencer a special prospect is his upside. He compares athletically to Kolton Miller and Nate Solder, each of whom were top-20 picks and Brown is stronger than both.

Brown is a high-character player who has the tools to be a home-run pick. If he hits, Brown will do that in a big way. That upside makes Brown one of the best tackles in the draft and worthy of a top-32 selection on April 29. 

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