The Chicago Bears filled the two biggest holes on offense this week, signing TE Martellus Bennett and LT Jermon Bushrod. Yet the biggest position of weakness on the team is arguably linebacker, where the Bears have just Lance Briggs under contract.
Geno Hayes signed with Jacksonville, Brian Urlacher is meeting with the Vikings and Nick Roach appears on the verge of signing with the Raiders. GM Phil Emery will likely let the market settle before adding a veteran or two, and there's still the possibility that Urlacher returns, but thinking long-term, the Bears must select a linebacker in the early rounds of this year's draft.
Arms: 32 ½ inches
Hands: 10 inches
CombineBroad jump: 116.0
Pro Day40-Yard Dash: 4.56-4.66
Bench Press: 21 reps
On tape, what jumps out about Brown is his closing speed. Once he reads and commits, he's on the ball carrier in a hurry. He's not an explosive hitter but he's a sure tackler. He shows great change of direction, instincts and leadership on the field.
Against the run, Brown is aggressive at the point of attack and isn't afraid to take on lead blockers. He does a great job of keeping his eyes in the backfield and is one of the best linebackers in this class at extending his arms to keep separation from offensive linemen.
In coverage, he shows good awareness and reaction time. In zone coverage, he sees the whole field and can bounce from receiver to receiver. He gives good effort on 50/50 balls. His speed and closing ability helps him recover when receivers are able to create separation in man coverage.
Brown was used heavily as a blitzer for the Wildcats and is very experienced pressuring the quarterback from every angle.
Brown's aggressiveness often causes him to over-pursue run plays and he has a hard time recovering. He lacks good balance when traversing through the wash and is too easily knocked down by opposing blockers. While he was very productive in college, he's not an explosive player and isn't highly disruptive. He often disappears for long stretches and has a tendency to quit at the end of plays.
He's strong in zone coverage but he's a bit stiff in man. He'll struggle against some of the more athletic tight ends in the NFL. At just 6-0, Brown is also short for the position, which could affect his ability to challenge some of the big, mauling offensive guards in the NFL.
Brown played at Miami (Fla.) his freshman and sophomore seasons before transferring to Manhattan. He quickly became one of the best players on Kansas State's defense and was named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and first-team All-Conference in 2011. As a senior in 2012, he led the team with 100 tackles, seven for loss.
A shoulder injury kept Brown out of both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. His pro day was this week and he erased any fears about the shoulder with 21 reps in the bench press. He also ran in the 4.55-4.65 range, which is solid.
Some question his size but he plays bigger than his frame might suggest. In fact, his relatively short stature allows him to be more explosive at the point of attack. His closing speed is great, as is his awareness in coverage, which leads me to believe he can play middle or outside linebacker in the NFL, in both 3-4 and 4-3 systems.
The Bears sent two representatives to Brown's pro day. He's expected to come off the board in the second round. If the club doesn't select a linebacker in the first, expect them to give Brown strong consideration in the second. He's a three-down linebacker with the athleticism and experience to start right away in the NFL and would be a solid fit in the Windy City.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.