In an age of analytics and technology, looking for the top pro football prospects has become pretty ridiculous. It's no longer all about a player's character and ability to play football, but more about vertical heights, the three cone drill, and a player's size. Well, if that results in a bunch of teams passing on one of the top defenders in the draft, so be it.
Akron's Jatavis Brown has made it onto most draft experts' radar for his speed, strength, and missile-like ability to chase down a ball carrier, but most of them say the same thing: he's too small.
At 5-foot-11 and 225 lbs., Brown won't blow anyone away with his size, but what he lacks in size is made up for in just about every other aspect of his game. Because of his size, there has been speculation that Brown will be a safety or hybrid, but he believes he'll play linebacker in the NFL when asked by George Thomas of the Beacon Journal at Akron's pro day.
While at Akron, Brown made himself known very early in his career. About midway through his 2012 freshman season, Brown was placed in the starting lineup and his presence was felt despite the entire defense still being one of the worst in the league. When 2013 came along, Chuck Amato's defense became one of the most improved in the country behind All-MAC performances by Brown and Justin March. 2014 saw pretty much the same thing, only Brown became the clear cut leader of the defense, recording 62 solo tackles and 4 sacks.
When senior year came along in 2015, expectations were that he would be even better and become a leader as the team made a run toward a winning season.
Brown was dominant in pretty much every game, winning MAC Defensive Player of the Year and made First team All-MAC for the third time. He recorded 116 total tackles with 19.5 tackles for loss. He also forced four fumbles and got one pick, but the thing that separated Brown from the rest of the pack were his 11.5 sacks. He lived in the back field for most of the season.
With a career like that, it's pretty reasonable to say that Brown is one of the best, if not THE best, players in the history of Akron football. If not for his size, he could be in the same ballpark as Khalil Mack a few years ago.
Despite being a combine snub, Brown did participate in a regional combine as well as Akron's pro day. At the Houston regional combine, where he impressed nearly every scout in attendance with his great ball skills and 4.47 40-yard dash.
Brown's pro-day at Akron did nothing but help his case. The full write up by Thomas is linked above. Brown ran his 40-yard dash ranging between 4.38 and 4.44. He did 33 reps on the bench press and would have been top ten at the NFL combine in vertical and broad jump, according to Thomas.
So far, Brown is on the radar no earlier than the fourth or fifth round, Mel Kiper says he looks like a day three guy because of, well, you know, his size.
If Brown were a couple of inches taller and weighed maybe 10-15 pounds more of muscle, I could see Jatavis Brown ion team's radars in the second or third round, maybe even a little bit earlier. But Brown will have to continue to prove people wrong, after all, Akron was his only FBS offer coming out of Belle Glade, Florida.