The Detroit Lions are in the market for linebackers, which leads us to Jayon Brown from the Tennessee Titans.
Free agency is tricky in a lot of ways, because you have to decide if the free agent is playing hard only for his next contract. Plus, you also have to figure out why his current team is letting him test the market.
The best free agents are typically protected by their present teams by way of the “franchise tag,” and the rest of them ... it is really a job for a private investigator.
After all, that is really what scouting is. All you have to be able to do is have a passion for watching football and be able to pay really close attention to all the little details. You need to look for patterns and tendencies and be able to effectively project if the prospect, whoever he is, fits what your team is trying to do.
All a scout does is write down what he/she sees. The more the years go by and the more experience the scout gains, the more comparative of a base he/she will have to better grade and project.
That brings us back to Brown. According to Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic,
“The Lions biggest issue right now is speed and an overall lack of coverage ability. Jayon Brown, who is on the market after four years with the Titans, is one of the most consistent coverage linebackers in the NFL over the past three seasons. He’s an undersized inside linebacker who will give up something against the run, but he usually makes up for it in coverage.”
It took me all of eight plays to find out he doesn't excite me. He is what Bill Parcells used to call a “JAG,” which stands for “just another guy.” I am also not at all seeing the coverage value The Athletic is talking about.
When I went back and watched all 84 plays of his on NFL Game Pass, I saw someone who arrived mostly after the catches had been made and someone who showed very little play-making ability in coverage.
It is as clear as day why Tennessee is letting Brown test the market. He can be replaced, and it makes more financial sense to let him test the market and to draft a lesser paid replacement than to overpay him based on his on-field value, which is estimated to be at more than $10 million a season.
The last thing in the world the Lions need is another low-energy player on their defense. The last thing they need is another Jamie Collins-type who is out there just going through the motions. That does not win games in the National Football League.
LB Jayon Brown - 6’0, 227 pounds (26 years old; fifth-round pick in 2017 out of UCLA)
Grade: C (average; nothing special about the player)
A smart, heady and finesse linebacker with above-average athleticism and range, but he lacks energy and aggression. There was nothing special or dynamic about him on film in 2020. Has some underachiever in him. Looks flat-footed. Decent, but not great playing speed. Sometimes, turns it on more in pursuit.
Against run reads, he diagnoses, and goes around trash and blockers to get involved. Is not explosive whatsoever at the point of attack. Also struck me as being somewhat hesitant. Does not jolt any blockers. Showed desire to get in on tackles, and he is a solid and sure tackler. But, he has to be left clean or waits for it to get to his level. Not a run-stuffer.
In coverage, seemed decent, but by no means, is he a playmaker. Tends to make tackles on backs and on tight ends after the receptions have been successfully made. Typically a step or two slow in coverage. Only has blitz upside when left clean and even then, it is not great at all.
There is nothing that excited me about him on film when looking at his full body of work. Not a consistent playmaker whatsoever, unless you just want someone who is going to make the tackle after the fact. Underwhelming.
Brown is a classic example of someone who wants to get paid just because they put the time in and because “that is what the market is.”
Brown is overpriced and overvaluing himself. He looks and plays like a fifth-rounder. Anyone can see that if they turn on the film.
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