New England Patriots defenders must have two traits: run-stopping ability and versatility. First-round draft pick Malcom Brown checks both boxes.
The 6-foot-2, 319-pound defensive tackle played everywhere from nose tackle to stand-up defensive end, in his own words, during his time at Texas. He led the Longhorns in sacks and tackles for loss in 2014 and moved seamlessly between four- and three-man defensive fronts.
Brown was, quite frankly, a best-case scenario pick for the Patriots. He was off the board in every mock draft I saw leading up to the draft, and for good reason: He’s a very, very talented player.
Brown finished his 2014 junior season with 38 defensive stops, according to Pro Football Focus, the most among draft-eligible defensive tackles. His 11.1 run stop percentage ranked third among draft-eligible interior defensive linemen with at least 250 run snaps.
Brown also contributed as a pass rusher, recording 33 total pressures, giving him a 6.8 pass-rush productivity mark, which ranked 25th among draft-eligible interior defensive linemen. In comparison, Vince Wilfork had just a 3.6 pass-rush productivity score in 2014.
Brown will draw many comparisons to Wilfork, and even Patriots head coach Bill Belichick acknowledged the two players could share traits.
“Yeah, I’m sure there’s (similarities and differences),” Belichick said about Brown and Wilfork on Thursday at Gillette Stadium. “We’ll see.”
Wilfork was listed at 6-foot-1, 323 pounds coming out of Miami in 2004. He ran a 5.08-second 40-yard dash, 4.50-second short shuttle and 7.62-second 3-cone drill at his pro day. He recorded 36 bench press reps, a 26.5-inch vertical leap and 8-foot, 5-inch broad jump.
Brown, at 6-foot-2, 319 pounds, ran a 5.05-second 40-yard dash with a 4.59-second short shuttle and 7.84-second 3-cone drill at the NFL Scouting Combine. He recorded 26 bench press reps, a 29.5-inch vertical leap and 8-foot, 2-inch broad jump, so athletically speaking, the players have similarities.
Brown could serve a similar role as Wilfork in the Patriots’ defense, rotating with Sealver Siliga and Alan Branch along the Patriots’ defensive line. The Patriots also have 2014 first-round draft pick Dominique Easley to serve as an interior pass rusher.
Brown proved to be dominant at times shedding blockers and was solid holding his ground against offensive linemen last season. Check out his 2.5-sack performance against BYU:
Thumbnail photo via John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports Images