The Carolina Panthers took Alabama offensive lineman Deonte Brown in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft a couple of weeks ago and now, he's getting acclimated to being in the building and learning the Panthers' offense in rookie minicamp.
"It's been very refreshing and exciting to meet a whole new coaching staff. Getting to know them a little bit has been fun. Overall, the past couple of days have been great. I can’t wait to play here," Brown said. “I’m very blessed to have this opportunity, you know not many people that played at my level even get this opportunity, so I’m very blessed. The main thing I’m trying to get out of this weekend is just to show how fast I can learn the playbook so I can be a tool that they can use at some point.”
Despite being drafted late on day three, Brown has the talent and the skill set to develop into a solid starting NFL guard. The one thing that is holding him back, at least at the moment, is playing at a heavier weight. Brown told reporters on Friday that when he reported to rookie minicamp, he weighed in at 347 lbs. He checked in at 344 lbs during his Pro Day but was at 365 the week of the Reese's Senior Bowl. He's shredded nearly 20 pounds since the Panthers' coaching staff really got to work with him but head coach Matt Rhule still feels like he has a little more to cut down to get to a weight they feel Brown will be most successful at.
"When we get guys here, we bodyfat them, we do functional movement screens, we do force plates. So we build up all of this stuff, kind of a profile of each guy. I know during the draft process, Kate Callaway, she’s one of the stars, to me, in this place. She’s our team nutritionist, dietician, daughter of a coach. She just works tirelessly making sure that a) we have great food options for the guys and b) helps counsel guys and help guys. So I know she was in contact with the dietician at Alabama as we went through this process. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a 310-pound guy, that’s just not who he is. He’s a big, powerful man. So we’ll take all of that data over the course of this weekend about how he moves. Then, what’s his body fat percentage? What’s his power? And we’ll put all of that together to come up with an ideal weight for him. I would love it if he was like most guys, in the 330s, but he might be a 340-pound guy. So that’s kind of a process where we lean on the science and people like that, but I’m sure Kate, she’ll do whatever it takes to help him. She’s really special.”
Cutting weight is something Brown knows he has to do and is very conscious of. He believes having the opportunity to be in the facilities for rookie minicamp will give him a headstart on not only his weight plan but learning the playbook as well.
“It just gives us the upper hand. I’m very fortunate to come in a class that we are here in person and get the feel of the program, see the plays, actually get hands-on learning from the coaches. I feel like that’s different than just seeing a coach or seeing plays through a screen," Brown stated. “The coaching style is really great. I can tell that [offensive line coach Pat Meyer] really cares about his guys and also he coaches really hard and I just think he’s a really good teacher.”
During Brown's career at Alabama, he did not allow a single sack which is quite the feat. As reliable as he was as a pass protector, he's even a better run blocker. He has the ability to just plow right through defenders and have his way with them. Brown has strong hands and has pretty good leverage for a somewhat raw offensive lineman. He has all the natural abilities to be someone that can contribute early in his career and that's what he expects to do no matter where he lines up.
“I believe that I definitely have the athletic ability. I can play anywhere. I just want to have an opportunity.”
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