Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Thoughts on USC's Charles Brown

I've just finished watching the tape from USC vs Oregon State which took place at the weekend. I put most of my focus on the Trojans' left tackle Charles Brown, a prospect who's generated some buzz recently and could be a candidate to move up draft boards. He's 6'6" and 285lbs, with the kind of athleticism you'd expect to see from a converted tight end. Brown also fits Seattle's zone blocking scheme, which favors intelligent lineman with agility. He'll be 23 years old by the 2010 draft next April.

I'd had a chance to watch USC in the past and my initial impressions of Brown were that he had good footwork, had some value as a run blocker to match his obvious pass protection skills and could be a potential top end first round pick, form permitting. So what did the tape throw up today?

Again I was impressed with Brown's footwork. When he stands up and uses his feet to get into position, he had success. His real quality is getting into position quickly to make a sufficient block. Frequently Brown opted to use a cut block with less success. Sometimes it did the trick, sending the defensive end to the ground and giving Matt Barkley a free pass on his blind side. On other occasions (such as the Trojans first touchdown) Brown missed his man and needed Joe McKnight to help keep Barkley on his feet. It just all seemed a bit unnecessary, especially the frequency with which he went with the cut. When he stood up and relied on that excellent footwork, he was a lot more effective.

Sometimes Brown was caught a little flat footed. With 4:57 in the first quarter, Oregon State sent a two man blitz from his side. He didn't know which man to block, when he really should have taken the rusher inside and left the outside threat for Joe McKnight who was quickly into pass protect. In the end that indecisiveness allowed the inside guy a chance to burst through and Brown was fortunate not to get called for holding, pulling him back by the jersey. On the positive side, he recovered quickly to get back into position and help McKnight. The play actually led to a Barkley interception, but that was a quarterback error and no blame could be pinned at Brown.

I liked his determination to get to the second level on running plays. One one example with 5:49 left in the second quarter, he takes on the first defensive lineman but diagnoses quickly that he can let the left guard take that man, allowing him to move on and tackle a linebacker at the next stage. He drives back a linebacker doing enough to give the running back a bit of room to get the first down.

Sometimes he was driven back into the quarterback. It never cost him in this game, but it highlighted to me that he could stand to add some bulk to his upper body. He hasn't got a big punch from the snap and he occasionally loses leverage when a rusher gets underneath his pads. There's room on that frame to get up to a more ideal 305lbs and that's something he should be trying to do now ahead of any work outs during the off season. It shouldn't affect his footwork or agility too much as long as the weight goes up top and not on the midriff.

Overall I was satisfied with Brown's performance. I'm not sure I saw enough evidence to suggest he was going to rise up the boards like Jason Smith last year. Much will depend on his ability to add a bit of bulk and perform consistently throughout the rest of the year. As things stand, I'd classify him as a borderline late first round pick or an early second. He could push up into the middle of round one, particularly if teams are unconvinced by the rest of the senior offensive lineman, including Russell Okung and Trent Williams. The premium nature of his position could aid his rise up the boards, but for now I see no reason why Seattle couldn't target him with Denver's pick should they wish.


Anonymous said...

Good footwork and athleticism or not, 285 is SMALL in the NFL. That scares me a lot for an NFL left tackle, especially . In my opinion, he needs to add 20 lbs and not lose any athleticism. Can he do it?


Rob Staton said...

I think so. If he can get up to 305-310lbs I think that would be a good target. As long as it's muscle in the upper body and not simply fat around his midriff, I don't see any reason why he can't maintain his athleticism.

It will remain a question mark though, which is why Brown is only being considered a borderline 1st/2nd rounder instead of a top pick like Jason Smith.

Kyle Rota said...

A lot of NFL scouts were told, by the Baylor trainer, that Smith struggled to stay above 290 during the year. Then he weighed in at 312 during the combine and shot up boards. Hard to know what will happen with Brown.

Rob Staton said...

That's interesting to hear Kyle. Even at this stage last year, Jason Smith was only being considered in the mid first round or even late first. That's pretty similar to Charles Brown. If he shows up at the combine a little bigger whilst maintaining his athleticism in drills, maybe he will shoot up the board?

Michael said...

Nice job, Rob. Well written.

germpod said...

Well, we do not want him to shoot up the board too much and be taken before we can get him. What we want is for other GMs to see him as undersized, and for Ruskell to correctly assume that he will get stronger with some more time in the weight room and end up being a star ;-)

Anonymous said...

Another question is, if Ruskell is still in charge of the draft, will he draft a LT early, having already declared (and paid) Locklear as the future LT?


Rob Staton said...

It's a good question TJ. Locklear has clearly been earmarked to play LT and you have to say - it's not like a rookie is immune from injury. You could draft a guy to play LT instead, give him a big contract and he could get injured, putting Locklear at LT anyway. I think he has to address the depth at tackle either way if Walter Jones cannot continue, but he won't necessarily draft a LT early this year. It's not a great year for offensive tackles anyway, even with the emergence of Charles Brown.

ivotuk said...

Love what you are doing Rob and the input from Kyle is invaluable.

I desperately want to see an elite LT in Seattle but don't want them to take one thinking they are going to replace Walt or take an LT instead of BPA.

What I believe is that with one more elite DL taken early could put this defense over the top. After recent play, I just don't see the current roster putting enough pressure on on other NFCW teams QBs to help out the CBs. I would love to see Suh or McCoy become a Seahawk next year although the "knee" thing with Suh spooks me a little. We don't need that scenario all over again.

If we end up with an early pick, I don't see an LT that is worth choosing that high. So, if we can't get a DT early, then I would hope TRusk can trade back some and get a CJ Spiller and an extra 2nd as currently it looks like there is going to be a lot of first round talent spill over in to the 2nd round.

I really like the way Clausen has developed and think he could become a top ten QB in the NFL. To me he has made leaps and bounds in his maturation process and looks the part of an NFL QB. I like Locker too and especially like the idea of a tough, durable, hard to bring down Quarterback that is able to get the ball out even with people around him.

I don't think we need to be drafting a WR early and after reading some reports, especially one by Rob Rang about a FS named Stuckey out of Kansas, that we can find a very good FS in the 2nd round without risking a high pick and big dollars on Mays.

Of course all of that is a long ways away but I appreciate the opportunity to chat about it here Rob :)

Rob Staton said...

No problem Ivotuk - thanks for the positive feedback. It's always great to read input in the comments section and please always feel free to contribute.

I'd echo your sentiments. Getting O-line improvement in the long term is a huge need for Seattle, but they can't force it. It is a good draft for defensive lineman, and adding one (especially with Kerney ageing) wouldn't be a bad idea. I'm resigned to the Seahawks probably not picking high enough for Suh - but Glenn Dorsey dropped a bit so you never know. He has huge potential.

Jimmy Clausen is the most pro-ready QB who could be available in 2010. I think he'll declare and he could easily go first overall. He's progressed leaps and bounds this year, but there's still room for improvement. When he throws off his back foot, he loses all velocity in his throws. I want to see him throw from the front more often, keeping that pace on the ball and driving into his receivers.

I would also agree about the safety position. It's a need, but it's nowhere near as much of an issue as nearly every position on offense. Taking someone like Taylor Mays or Eric Berry would be too much of a luxury for me and I think both are highly over rated. Later in the first round - ok. Top ten? No thanks.

www.pcwebsite.net said...

This cannot have effect in actual fact, that's what I consider.

muebles en collado villalba said...

Very worthwhile data, lots of thanks for this post.