In our recent Mock Draft Monday, the selection the Pittsburgh Steelers made at the No. 22 position was defensive tackle Malcom Brown from the University of Texas. Selecting a new member of the defensive front would certainly be a welcome addition to a defense extremely thin at the position, but to make this move the player would hopefully be an NFL-ready player, and Brown could be just the guy for the Steelers.
Height: 6-feet 2-inches
Weight: 319 pounds
Arms: 32 1/2 inches
Hands: 10 inches
40-yard dash: 5.05 seconds
225 pound bench press: 26 repetitions
Vertical Jump: 29.5 inches
Broad Jump: 98 inches
3-cone drill: 7.84 seconds
STRENGTHS: Showed great improvement during 2014 season and is considered a "riser" on draft boards by league scouts. Good bend in his hips to play low off the snap. Athletic big man who improved his quickness this year. Began to impose his will more frequently late in the season. Excels once he reaches a lineman's edge. Flashes power and control in his hands. Discards blockers when ready as a read-and-react defender and uses a punch to keep himself clean and scrape down the line after ball carriers. Eyes stay glued on ball carrier no matter what battle is in front of him. Can recover and improve positioning if he is losing early in snap. Light on his feet and diagnoses very quickly. Hard defender for offensive linemen to cross-face. Too athletic and talented to consistently single block.
WEAKNESSES: Despite size and frame, not consistently physical at the point of attack. Has average power in his lower body and struggles to hold his ground against double teams. Looking for secondary motor as rusher. Effort level stalls when his pass rush stalls. Is in need of a more polished counter move as a pass rusher. Would benefit from improved strength and ability to vary game from penetration to power. Plays hard but scouts do not consider him a "glass-eater."
STRENGTHS: He definitely passes the eye test with a tall, wide frame and carries his 315-325 pound frame very well, showing easy movement skills. Brown looks natural on his feet with the range and redirection skills to make plays away from the line of scrimmage. Frequently among the quickest off the ball, showing the ability to penetrate and create havoc on behind the line of scrimmage. Brown locates the ball quickly, keeping his eyes up even as he is fighting through multiple blockers and works hard to get to the action, spinning and sliding to get involved. Gets his hands up in passing lanes, showing good body control and timing on his leaps to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage (six over his career). Still developing talent whose best football appears to be ahead of him. The NFL may also appreciate his maturity. Brown is married with two children and volunteered for Adams Angels, an organization for families who have children with cancer or have lost children to cancer.
WEAKNESSES: Shows good core strength and flexibility to anchor but needs to show greater power and technique in his hands to disengage and to latch onto (and drag down) ball-carriers as they attempt to run past him. Relies on his agility to slip by blockers, showing more tenacity and effort than an array of pass rush moves.
Brown is an interesting prospect as he has the speed quickness to serve as a three-technique with enough size and strength to also play nose tackle in a 4-3 defense. Brown is at his best when he is firing a gap to cause havoc in the backfield.
Brown had a good 2014 season. He used his speed to be a dangerous pass-rusher and showed some power to shed blocks. Brown overwhelmed offensive linemen in many games. For the year, he had 6.5 sacks, 71 tackles, 13 for a loss, one pass batted and two forced fumbles. Brown was tough to block with a good motor.
Brown had stated that if he received a first- or second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board that he would enter the 2015 NFL Draft, and he ended up declaring. While he didn't get a lot of media attention, he put together a good Combine performance as he ran rather quickly for a heavy lineman. Brown also moved well in the field drills.
Plain and simple, it looks like the best targets for the Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft could be gone before the 22nd pick. With Pittsburgh's reluctance to trade up to get a prospect, all the best pass rushers and cornerbacks could be off the board before the Steelers send in their draft selection. With that said, the Steelers do need to address the defensive front in the upcoming draft, and doing so in the first round would put Brown on a depth chart with Cameron Heyward, first round pick, and Stephon Tuitt, second round pick. The Steelers' plans could change if other prospects fall to them, but don't be shocked if the team doesn't look at the defensive front in the first round, and Brown just might be their guy.