Patriots Draft Spotlight: Malcom Brown

The Patriots made it public Thursday that they are not exercising their contract option on Vince Wilfork for '15, making him an unrestricted free agent. New England needs to add interior defensive lineman and Malcom Brown, a 6'2, 320 pound junior out of the University of Texas, could be a candidate to join the Patriots defensive front.

Thursday was a historic day in Foxboro as we learned that Vince Wilfork will most likely not return to the Patriots in 2015. His cap number, age, and the looming contract issues with players of more importance forced the Patriots hand, so now Wilfork is free to sign with any team in the league. The Patriots are going to need to use the draft to fortify their offensive and defensive line, and after the Wilfork move, the defensive line is now the top priority. Malcom Brown, a 6'2, 320 pound junior out of Texas would be a solid fit in New England and would most likely be available when the Patriots are finally on the board at #32.

Malcom Brown has been a well-known prospect since his days playing at Brenham High School in Brenham, Texas. Brown was a prep All-American his senior year and was All-District his sophomore, junior, and senior year. As a sophomore, Brown made 43 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 31 quarterback hits, 11 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Brenham finished 13-3 in 2010 and made it to the fourth round of the state playoffs.

In 2011, Brown continued his dominant ways, making 48 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 24 quarterback hits, four sacks, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass batted down. The team finished 10-1 but were knocked off in the first round of the playoffs. Brown had a bit of dropoff in his tackle production his senior year, but he was still making plays everywhere. Brown finished 2012 with 34 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 36 quarterback hits, nine sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one pass batted down. He helped lead his team to an 11-1 record but they lost in the second round of the Texas State Playoffs.

When Brown made his way to the University of Texas, he provided an impact right from the start. Brown was in the defensive line rotation and ended up playing in all 13 games as a true freshman, which is no small feat at the University of Texas. Brown finished his freshman year with seven solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, and two tackles for loss. Brown had one of his best games against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl, making two solo tackles and one assisted tackle. For a rotational player, he put up decent stats and proved that he could handle the load as a starter.

Brown returned for his sophomore year as a starter, and it paid big dividends for the Texas defense. Brown finished with 28 solo tackles, 38 assisted tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, four passes broken up, three QB hurries, and one blocked punt. Brown showed consistency every week, making plays against every offense in the Big 12. Brown's best game came against TCU when he made six tackles, one tackle for loss, two pass breakups and two quarterback pressures. Brown played excellent vs. Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU and Oregon, all teams with wide open offenses that are difficult to defend.

Brown was excellent his sophomore year, but he exploded onto the national scene his junior year. Brown made 38 solo tackles, 32 assisted tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, one pass broken up, seven quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles. Brown was one of the best defensive players in the country in 2014, being named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award and the Outland Trophy. Brown was voted a consensus first-team All-American by every major publication in America.

Brown is excellent with his hands and also has strong footwork. Brown also knows how to play with excellent leverage and doesn't get to high in his hips. For a player of Brown's size, he has very quick feet and he is good at focusing on the ball while avoiding trash and discarding blockers. Brown is more of a 4-3 tackle than a 3-4 tackle because he doesn't have the traditional nose tackle abilities, but the Patriots deploy the 3-4, 4-3, and a hybrid of the two, so they could definitely use a player with Brown's ability. Malcom Brown should be the second defensive tackle off the board and be picked in the top 32 selections.

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