2019 Season Rewind
Cam Brown is a two-time team captain for the Penn State Nittany Lions, who recorded 72 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 2 sacks, and 4 passes defensed in his senior year.
The year prior, he earned 63 tackles, 6.5 for a loss, two sacks, 6 passes defensed, and three forced fumbles.
I got to see Brown at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and he truly looks like a shooting guard in the NBA. He’s 6’5" and 233 pounds, and he has ridiculously long arms.
His arms are 34” which is 95th percentile for linebackers; he’s built like Zach Cunningham, a second-round pick by the Texans in 2017.
Brown also showed basketball-like lower body explosiveness by jumping over ten feet in the broad, 88th percentile, while jumping 35½” in the vertical (69th percentile)
He ran a 4.72 40-yard dash, which is substantial when you consider size adjustment, but it was 43rd percentile for linebackers. Brown played in 51 games, with 26 starts, and earned third-team All-Big 10 in 2019.
Brown graduated from Penn State with a degree in kinesiology. He was a four-star recruit coming out of Maryland, and he was the second-ranked linebacker in the state.
Little known fact, his cousin was Andre Davis, who had a nine-year career in the NFL, playing for the Browns, Patriots, Bills, and Texans. This connection, undoubtedly, gives Brown some insight into what it takes to be a professional football player.
At Penn State, Brown had a knack for coming up with big plays in clutch situations, sacking the quarterback on third down, making big tackles at the goal line, using his length to disrupt throwing lanes, or force fumbles with violent hits.
He wasn’t consistently doing this game in and game out, which is why he probably fell to the sixth round. Brown’s also a bit stiff in space. While he shows a fair amount of quick burst and straight-line acceleration, his ability to change direction, on a lateral and backward plane, in tight spaces is somewhat slow.
What I truly love about Brown is his length and versatility. Possessing long arms on the second level of a defense closes throwing windows in the intermediate parts of the field and on the seam.
Brown lined up 273 times at slot corner, 259 times in the box, 89 times on the defensive line, eight times at free safety, and six times at wide corner.
He has experience blitzing, dropping into coverage, being the force player, and in man. Patrick Graham will be able to do many interesting things with Brown’s versatile skillset if he develops the right way.
Brown has a lot of young competition on the roster. Towards the end of the draft, the Giants added South Carolina’s TJ Brunson, Georgia’s Tae Crowder, Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin. They also added North Carolina’s Dominique Ross as an undrafted free agent at linebacker, albeit Carter’s more of an EDGE.
Brown has a trump card over these other players: his length. Graham is thought to be looking for second-level defenders that rove around behind the line of scrimmage; Brown’s size and athletic profile fit Graham’s criteria.
In the best-case scenario, Brown will be a situational player behind Blake Martinez and Ryan Connelly, while showing up in passing situations as a box defender.
Brown can also be used to drop back into hook zones, but he may need to improve his man coverage when he has to flip his hips because he’s not overly fluid (or bendy) in his hips.
He’s good at planting and driving downhill, but must be better at coming to balance upon making his tackle, to avoid him flying recklessly, which he wasn’t always guilty of doing.
Zone may fit him better in the middle hook, and he can do curl/flat in Cover 3; he can cover enough ground to hit the curl spot and drive down towards the flats.
Ostensibly, Brown has the best chance of Brunson, Crowder, and Ross to find playing time on this defense. To unlock his maximum potential, Brown has to improve his strength and get more reps to adjust to the speed of the NFL. I would also like to see more consistency from Brown.
No matter what, Brown will be a fixture on special teams. His length and explosiveness will be very valuable to Joe Judge and Thomas McGaughey’s field goal and punt block unit.