As the 2020 offseason progresses, JaguarReport is going to be taking extended looks of some NFL draft prospects who could theoretically make sense for the Jaguars at some point in April.
In this version, we examine Auburn University defensive tackle Derrick Brown, an interior defensive line prospect who is considered by many to be one of the best players in the entire class. How would Brown fit with what the Jaguars are doing in 2020?
Derrick Brown was a standout at defensive tackle for Auburn's highly touted defense in 2019, capping off his senior year with the Tigers with a career year. In 12 games in 2019, Brown (6-foot-5, 318-pounds), recorded 54 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, four pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous All-American.
In 46 career games at Auburn, Brown recorded 170 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, eight pass deflections, five forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries.
Brown is widely considered to be one of the first defensive lineman drafted in 2020, though the consensus expects him to be drafted after Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. His draft range is likely between the 3-10 area due to possible runs on quarterbacks and offensive lineman.
What Derrick Brown does well
The first thing that pops out about Brown is his quickness of off the snap for a player his size. He simply moves at a different speed than other interior players when he is on his game, and this combined with his size and strength make him a disruptive presence in the middle of a defense. Auburn typically had him play nose tackle, where he spent time lining both head up and shading centers and absorbing double teams.
As a run defender, Brown has better range than expected due to his motor and quickness off of the ball. He gets a good push on contact and when this is combined with his explosion, he can power his way over blockers and into the backfield. He reads plays well and typically has a good idea for where the ball is, something that other Jaguars' defensive tackles have struggled with. He doesn't get moved much off of the line of scrimmage, especially against single blockers.
As a pass-rusher, Brown has flashed the ability to beat blockers off the snap with a variety of moves, including an inside spin move that can leave guards in his wake if he continues to refine it at the next level. His burst and power off the ball help him get initial pressure, and he is much more of a pass-rusher that uses his own momentum to generate a rush.
What Derrick Brown needs to improve at
Brown is a fairly complete defensive tackle, but there are still a few areas he can improve in as he develops. He can get hung up on pass-blockers after they stop his initial momentum, failing to put together counter moves after impact.
He has great footwork and quickness for his size, but mobile quarterbacks will be able to escape from him more often than not. will likely be a player who gets a lot of early pressure that allows others to close instead of getting to the quarterback himself.
Against the run, Brown can play high at times and find himself off-balance. He does a great job of drawing double teams against the run, but he sometimes leans into the blocks and loses the leverage battle. The Jaguars would need him to instantly be placed in the middle of the defense and absorb blocks for its speedy linebacker group, so Brown would need to continue to work on the technical part of his game as he develops.
Like any defensive tackle, Browns would occasionally have stretches where he didn't make an impact, instead making his plays in spurts such as he did vs. Alabama.
How Derrick Brown would fit with the Jaguars
Jacksonville's defensive tackle group faltered down the stretch in 2019, especially against the run. Starting nose tackle Marcell Dareus was having a solid, but unspectacular, season in 2019 before going down with a core muscle injury after Week 7. Dareus didn't play another game, and the Jaguars' run defense torpedoed.
With Abry Jones, Taven Bryan, and Akeem Spence as the Jaguars' primary base down defensive tackles, the Jaguars lacked a run-stuffing presence up front and were gashed by the run week in and week out, allowing 139.3 rushing yards per game and 23 rushing touchdowns, the second most in the NFL.
No Jaguars defensive tackle collected more than two sacks in 2019, though defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot recorded six sacks as a nickel defensive tackle. Without Dareus, the Jaguars didn't have a playmaker who could absorb blocks, push the pocket, or make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
With Dareus' future with the Jaguars up in the air due to his contract, which has a $22.5 million cap hit in 2020. If the Jaguars opted to take Brown at ninth overall to take Dareus' role as the starting nose tackle, Brown could instantly make an impact in the team's run defense. He offers more as a run-stopping defender than any other interior lineman on the Jaguars' roster, and his explosiveness would give them a scary defensive line in terms of athleticism.
Brown may never collect a lot of sacks, but he projects as a three-down player who can generate a pass rush on third down after dominating on the first two downs. He is the kind of player who makes the others around better, the quality of a special prospect.
The question the Jaguars will likely have is if a nose tackle is worth taking so early in the draft, but Brown does enough as a pass-rusher and has the traits to indicate he is more than just an average third-down player.
A low-risk prospect who could instantly upgrade a big weakness for a lot of teams, expect Brown to get consideration early and often in April. If he ends up becoming a Jaguar, he would indicate a justified commitment to improving the interior of the defense.