Curtis Brown, CB, Texas Longhorns
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Curtis Brown appeared in 52 games at Texas and 28 of those were starts. Playing at a Big 12 program for that long, he's seen everything the college game has to offer. He's also faced premier receiver talent in the likes of Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant and he held his own facing both.
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Going into the year, the Longhorns decided to have a three-man rotation at the cornerback positions due to the influx of talent with Curtis, Chykie Brown and Aaron Williams. After watching them this season and looking back at previous years' game film, you can tell that Curtis has NFL starting cornerback talent. Chykie will be a late round developmental player and Aaron is a top caliber safety prospect.
What sets Curtis apart from his former teammates is his ability to mirror his opponents' actions with cat-like reflexes. He also shows a rare awareness to the receiver's route that can be contributed to him playing the position in high school.
Brown put on a display at the NFL Combine on how a cornerback is supposed to play the ball when it is in the air. He showed great hands and receiver-like timing. He gets the ball at the highest point, which benefits him when defending the taller receivers.
His coverage abilities led to 32 pass break ups while at the University of Texas and teams decided to game plan to go away from him. This could be one of the reasons why he only had two interceptions in his college career, but the low output brings up cause for concerns.
For a corner with coverage skills like Brown's, it's mind boggling that he has 32 pass break ups with only two career interceptions. He shows good coverage on the line, but has a tendency to be less physical while the receiver is running his route. The lack of contact will cause separation. He has great closing speed, but the separation distance leads him to break up the pass rather than coming up with the interception.
Curtis has a tendency of peeking into the backfield, which will cause him to lose track of his man at times. NFL teams will definitely need to get him out of this facet of his game because at the next level, if you lose awareness of your opponent for a split second, it will be enough to allow a long touchdown and SportsCenter highlight.
He shows on tape as not being fundamentally sound in his tackling, especially in the running game. If the quarterback leaves the pocket or the running back comes in Brown's lane, he will throw his body at the ball carrier. He won't wrap up or get low.
In the passing game, Curtis shows great coverage, but if the receiver hauls in the ball, he'll go high on the tackle. The bigger receivers have been known to throw him off or at least drag out another five-plus yards on the reception while Brown wrestles the ball carrier down or gets assistance. These tackling techniques were put on national display and will be relived in his mind for years to come. On the video below you'll see him mirror Michael Crabtree to perfection, but Crabtree still catches the ball and then Brown goes high to make the tackle...the rest is history as Crabtree throws Curtis off and walks all over the Longhorns National Championship hopes on his way into the end zone for the game winning touchdown.
Curtis played wide receiver and cornerback in high school. A lot of his strengths and weaknesses as a cornerback can be traced back to what he did as a receiver in his prep days. He developed his hands, understands the routes and what a receiver is thinking, and he played that position at a high level as well.
Another thing he showed in high school that followed him to college was his character. In high school he worked with his church to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. While at UT this season, he found out that his one-year-old daughter was fighting for her life with a respiratory illness. He asked to leave to go be by her side. Before he left, he found out that the NCAA had randomly drawn his name for a drug test. Being how the NCAA has no heart and doesn't cut anyone a break for anything, he had to stay or they would have suspended him (story for another day!). After the test he returned to Houston to be with his daughter. The team would have understood him staying, but yet he still came back that Saturday so he did not let his team down. He fumbled two punts in that game and was heavily criticized by the media and now by the scouts. He still chose not to speak out about what he was dealing with that week, which everyone would have understood.
If you question his playmaking ability, look no further than his coverage against Dez Bryant at the end of a 2008 matchup when he knocked down the potential touchdown pass. If that's not impressive enough for you, consider that when this Longhorns secondary lost NFL rookie standout Earl Thomas to the pros; the Texas pass defense actually improved. They ranked 6th nationally in pass defense in 2010, giving up only 161 yards per game.
Brown was also a special teams stud while at Texas. He made an immediate impact right out of the gate as a freshman. If he can add bulk and stay low in his defensive tackling as he does on special teams, then he'll be a solid NFL starter.
Potential NFL Team, Round
Most front offices and coaches believe that you can't ever have too many cornerbacks. With that being said, I feel that Curtis has the skill set to actually sneak into the first round at the 31st pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Pittsburgh doesn't draft Brown, I can't see him getting out of the second round.
The Buffalo Bills (34), Denver Broncos (36), Arizona Cardinals (38), Dallas Cowboys (40), Houston Texans (42), Detroit Lions (44), San Francisco 49ers (45), St Louis Rams (47), Jacksonville Jaguars (49), Indianapolis Colts (53), Seattle Seahawks (57), and Baltimore Ravens (58) are possible destinations for a corner like Brown. If he's still on the board, I think he would be a great value for Detroit or San Francisco.
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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