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Getting to know the Steelers 2021 UDFAs: Shakur Brown

The former Michigan State Spartan only played 21 games in college.

Rutgers v Michigan State Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

After the Pittsburgh Steelers selected nine players in the 2021 NFL draft, they continued to adding to the roster with eight undrafted free agents. With many draft profiles focusing on those players towards the top and middle of the NFL draft, it is time to get to take a look at these other members of the Pittsburgh Steelers who will have just as much opportunity to make the roster in 2021 as those who were selected in the draft, despite the more difficult path.

Remember, some draft profiles for these players are quite harsh as they are looking at them as a draftable prospect. Taking a flyer on an UDFA is a completely different story as many times the potential the player shows is what lands them on an NFL offseason roster.

Next on the list is cornerback Shakur Brown.


Shakur Brown

Cornerback
Junior
Michigan St
5’11” 190 lbs

Only playing seven games each of his three seasons at Michigan State, Shakur Brown totaled 54 tackles with 2.0 for loss and 2.0 sacks. He had 7 interceptions with one touchdown and nine passes defensed. In his junior year in 2020, Brown had 25 tackles, five interceptions, and four passes defensed.


Current Steelers at the position:

Cornerback

  1. Joe Haden
  2. Cam Sutton
  3. Justin Layne
  4. James Pierre
  5. Tre Norwood
  6. Stephen Denmark
  7. Skakur Brown
  8. Mark Gilbert
  9. DeMarkus Acy

Draft Profiles:

Here is a recent breakdown following the 2020 season from NFL.com:

Overview

Athletic and instinctive, Brown offers inside/outside cornerback skill and experience, but his average size and speed might make the slot a more likely home. He plays the game like an angry hornet with a relentless, edgy play demeanor. Brown plays with ideal eye balance and field awareness that complements his short-area twitch and anticipatory skills to challenge throws. He has the strength, athleticism and football intelligence to play any coverage technique and often traveled with the opponent’s best wideout. He will eventually lose some ground deep and can be overtaken by big receivers. He’s often chippy against opposing receivers and loves to come downhill as a run defender. Brown plays with the competitive spirit and talent to leave an imprint on the game as a starting nickel with CB2 potential.

Strengths

Ability and experience to play in a variety of schemes and techniques.

Above-average strength for his size from press.

Mirrors release and maintains balance through press opening.

Elite instincts and true detective in space with seven interceptions in 26 games.

Stare-down passers find him flying into their passing lanes.

Trusts his technique with few wasted steps to the ball.

Bounces off the ground, increasing his size on 50-50 balls.

Stop-start quickness to phase altered route speed.

Low center of gravity with balance to change direction against comeback routes.

Maintains back-side discipline and is weary of trickery.

Edgy play demeanor and loves testing the toughness of opposing receivers.

Rushes downhill and can either wrap up or chop out the runner’s legs.

Weaknesses

Just a single season as full-time starter.

Quicker than fast.

Had issues with long speed when playing outside.

Was overtaken by big receivers down the field at times.

Has tendency to lose track of the ball and/or man with back to the throw.

Style could create some durability concerns.

Must learn to check his emotions on the field.

Here is another breakdown courtesy of profootballnetwork.com:

Shakur Brown Player Profile

Michigan State cornerback Shakur Brown began his path to the 2021 NFL Draft as a versatile playmaker at Woodland High School. Like most high school kids, the Stocksbridge, Georgia, native filled a multitude of roles. However, he didn’t just fill those roles. He excelled. His contributions as a senior punt returner earned him Region 4-5A Special Teams Player of the Year.

His performances in all three phases of the game helped Woodland reach the playoffs for the first team in school history. Along the way, he contributed touchdowns by way of an interception return, rushing, and a punt return. Further showcasing his versatile skill set, he also logged pass receptions as a senior. He earned recognition for his play with Georgia 5A All-State First Team honors.

As a result of his all-around contribution, he was tabbed as an “athlete” by recruiting sites. A three-star high school prospect, he was ranked as the 77th athlete in the class and 115th player in the state of Georgia. He attracted national attention from the powerhouses like Tennessee and Ole Miss alongside multiple small-school offers.

Committing to West Virginia in January 2017, it appeared likely that he would make his home as a Mountaineer. However, in a surprise move, he enrolled at Michigan State instead.

Shakur Brown’s college football career at Michigan State

A late enrollee who came out of high school at 170 pounds, Shakur Brown redshirted in 2017. However, he impressed his Michigan State coaches early on, earning Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week honors. If there would be any doubt over which position he’d play for the Spartans upon his arrival, there wasn’t anymore.

After making his debut against Utah State, Brown demonstrated his playmaking ability against Indiana. The Michigan State cornerback returned an interception for a 69-yard touchdown. Although that would be the highlight of his redshirt freshman season, it would serve as a little taste of what was to come.

He opened the 2019 season with a pair of sacks against Tulsa before losing six games to injury. On his return, he secured his second career interception against Illinois to start a run of starts and productivity. Over a four-game span, he broke up five passes. He started five games to finish the season, helping him to secure a starting position for his final season with the Spartans.

Becoming a disruptive playmaker in a disrupted college football season

Despite the disruption of the 2020 college football season, Shakur Brown started all seven games for Michigan State at cornerback. He opened the season with an interception against Rutgers. In a standout game against Indiana, Brown had a career-high 6 tackles while snagging 2 interceptions. It was the first of consecutive games with multiple interceptions.

In the following game against Northwestern, he added two more. The first one set up a Michigan State touchdown. Meanwhile, the second gave the Spartans a game-winning field goal as they surprised the Wildcats. Although the Spartans finished 2-5 for the season, Brown’s performances earned him First Team All-Big Ten honors.

Following the season, Michigan State cornerback opted to forego his remaining eligibility and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Finally, here is on last breakdown of Brown from thedraftnetwork.com:

PROSPECT SUMMARY – SHAKUR BROWN

Shakur Brown enters the 2021 NFL Draft as an early entry after enjoying a successful campaign in 2020 as a breakout defender for the Spartans defense. Brown, who was implemented in much more of a variety of roles in 2020 than he was in years prior, logged five interceptions on the season for 2020 and showcased the needed versatility to appeal to just about every defensive system in the league, regardless of what the primary coverage shell is. Brown is feisty and showed much better stickiness in coverage this past season, but he’s also entering into the NFL with a troublesome sample size; he has just 12 starts at the college level and is only now coming into his own as a defensive back—his 2019 tape was littered with false steps and errant challenges on vertical throws down the field. Brown has a fairly high ceiling and is probably most appealing as a nickel cornerback in a press-man style secondary, but teams who invest in him early are taking a major leap of faith based on his seven starts and quality play in 2020.

Ideal Role: Press corner at either perimeter or slot.

Scheme Fit: High occurrence of man-to-man coverage.


Film:

To finish off the breakdown of Shakur Brown, no evaluation is complete without film:

(WARNING: Audio could contain explicit material)


Previous Breakdowns: