Derrick Brown loved basketball.
Growing up, the former Auburn defensive tackle played center, and at Lanier High School in Atlanta, routinely put on a show. He could dunk the ball while weighing more than 315 pounds, and was so good and liked it so much that he almost quit football to concentrate solely on hoops. He described his hardwood prowess in one word:
Yeah, that pretty much summarizes his football abilities, too.
Brown, a surefire first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, looks the part. He stands six-foot-five, weighs 326 pounds and won the 2019 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award. He contributed during all four years he played for the Tigers and increased his tackles for loss total each season, finishing with 11.5 in 2019.
He’s a freak on the field.
Off it, nothing changes.
In 2018, Brown shattered an Auburn football program record by squatting 590 pounds in the Tigers’ weight room.
Not only is that more than a 100-pound jump from when he arrived at Auburn in 2016, but it was so much that the team's strength coach, Ryan Russell, cut him off. Russell didn’t let Brown go above 590 pounds but speculated he could lift more than 600.
After thinking about declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft, Brown returned to Auburn and made himself a more consistent player.
When asked about the 2018 version of himself at the NFL Combine in February, he said, “That guy don’t exist no more.”
He made some improvements while receiving a constant overload of attention from offenses.
“(I was double-teamed) about every snap,” Brown said. “Pass, run, it was a double-team frenzy when it came time to play against us. And that was my job. That’s what I was supposed to be doing in the defense, be able to help other guys be better. So that’s what I did — tried to do my job to the highest level that I could.”
Because of his elite combination of power and athleticism, Brown has been compared to stars like Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald.
Brown had another name in mind, though.
At the combine in Indianapolis, he and a group of other prospects met and ate dinner with Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle. Brown had never heard of Randle before meeting him, so someone told the 22-year-old to go back to his hotel room and pop in Randle’s film.
“So I went and looked it up last night: dude’s a monster,” Brown said in February. “And a lot of guys I talked to in the league, they were talking last night, coaches and staff, and they were saying he’s the best player they’ve ever seen. And he was saying, just telling us about how it was playing, he said he had to get up and show out. That’s just what he did.”
Brown can relate to that.
He puts on a show every time he plays, no matter the setting.