Bills Sophomore Spotlight: LB Preston Brown

Preston Brown was impressive in his rookie season. So impressive that the Bills felt comfortable trading away Kiko Alonso this offseason.

After the Buffalo Bills drafted Cyrus Kouandjio in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft, GM Doug Whaley was asked if Kouandjio was going to start. In his response, Whaley stated:

“Your first and second round picks have to contribute early and even your third. That’s the way we attack the draft.”

Kouandjio didn’t meet these immediate expectations, but Preston Brown, Buffalo’s third round pick, did more than just contribute in his rookie season.

Before the Bills

Brown contributed in all four seasons at Louisville, playing in 52 total games in his collegiate career. The linebacker led the Cardinals in tackles in his junior (109 total tackles) and senior season (98 total tackles). He amassed 301 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, one interception and one defensive touchdown with Louisville.

Heading into the NFL draft, Brown was credited for his sure-tackling, instincts and ability to line up and call out defensive plays.

What Analysts Said

"The more I watched of him, the more I thought he could play three downs. He's a bit of a throwback type of player."

-Mike Mayock, NFL.com

“He was on my Better-Than team, so you know I like it. He is a tough thumper in the run game.”

-Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com

“Brown has top physical traits, and with those traits, he should be able to dominate. The problem is, he doesn’t dominate but is more of a flash player. His lack of top instincts is what is holding him back. He should be an eventual starter in the league and is a solid “B” level player (third – fourth round).”

-Greg Gabriel, National Football Post

2014 Season

In early July, Kiko Alonso went down with a torn ACL. Suddenly, Buffalo’s selection looked very wise. Brown impressed the team during training camp and preseason and won the starting at strongside linebacker.

In his first season with the Bills, Brown led the team and finished second among all rookies in tackles (109 total). In his 16 games played (14 starts), Brown was credited with 39 stops and just six missed tackles in 1,057 defensive snaps.

Some looked at Brown as a two-down run stopping linebacker but he was impressive in coverage as an outside linebacker in Buffalo’s 4-3 defense last season. Pro Football Focus rated Brown as the third best 4-3 OLB in coverage last season.

Brown provided the Bills with tremendous production in his rookie season.

2015 Outlook

In 2015, the Bills defense will be running out of a 3-4 alignment. Brown is slotted as the team’s starting “Mike” linebacker, one of the most important positions on the field. It’ll be Brown’s job to call out formations and make adjustments when necessary on the field. In this role, Brown will be relied upon to stop the run.  He’ll be asked to take on fullbacks and guards so that Nigel Bradham, the “Will” linebacker, can take down the running back.

Buffalo will blitz early and often with Rex Ryan as head coach and Brown’s responsibilities will vary based on the play-call. He could be asked to drop into coverage or blitz the quarterback. Ryan wasn’t shy about blitzing with David Harris and he won’t be shy about using Brown in this role.

In the 2014 NFL draft, the Bills ‘hit’ on Preston Brown in the third round. His play, along with Bradham’s play, made Kiko Alonso expendable this offseason. Brown proved in his rookie season that he could be an every down linebacker, and there’s no reason to believe that Brown won’t thrive in Ryan’s defense in 2015.

RELATED LINKS:

Sophomore Spotlight - Sammy Watkins

Sophomore Spotlight – Cyrus Kouandjio


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