2015 NFL Scouting Combine Watch List: Defensive Line (Part 1)

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Sep 13, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Malcom Brown (90) sacks UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17)during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Malcom Brown, Texas

If the Raiders miss out on the great first-round defensive line talent like Williams, Fowler and Goldman, they may be able to snag a steal at the top of round 2 in the defensive line category. In 2010, Al Davis used the 44th overall pick on a 300+ pound defensive tackle/end out of Texas named Lamarr Houston, who was the team’s best defensive lineman in 2012 and 2013 before being allowed to walk in free agency before last season. Reggie McKenzie may use the 36th overall pick of the draft to grab another 300-pound Texas defensive lineman in Malcom Brown (not to be confused with Texas running back MalcoLm Brown). Brown, like Houston, is a nimble defensive tackle who can also play the end spot in certain alignments, though he is listed as being heavier and looks to be somewhat slower than Houston. Brown, listed at 6’3″ or 6’4″ and anywhere between 305 and 320 pounds, is more of a Brandon Mebane or Sedrick Ellis type: not necessarily fast, but with good feet, and the size and strength to play the nose tackle spot as well as the quick feet and block-shedding ability to work as a 3-technique or a 5-technique. This versatility may be his strongest asset as a draft prospect, and will certainly attract the attention of Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie. Brown has shown up solidly against the run throughout his Texas career, but has also been an effective pass-rusher, garnering 6.5 sacks in 2014. Here are some drills that McKenzie and Del Rio will want to see him in to see how he projects for the Raiders new defensive system:

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  • 1. Bench Press/Broad Jump: as was said above with Eddie Goldman, you need  your interior defensive linemen to be strong and demonstrate explosive legs, something measured by these two events. This is most important for a 3-tech and 5-tech player, who has to do more than be big and clog up the interior – he will have to show he has the strength to stonewall blockers and explode into ball-carriers. Brown looks strong on tape, able to hold his own against some of the strongest and biggest offensive linemen in the Big 12. If he does well in these two drills, he can show how he stacks up against his peers and against his potential opponents on the offensive line, and a strong number in both drills can translate to a physical readiness to play day one at the NFL level.

    2. 40-yard Dash: the 40 is generally unimportant for 300+ pound defensive linemen, who won’t be running 40 yards anywhere for the most part. But for a team looking for versatility and a player who projects as a potential 5-technique end, the 40 time becomes more important because he will at times be asked to defeat offensive tackles off the edge or hold containment in the run. It also serves as a good measure of his overall athleticism if he can move a 320-pound frame across 40 yards in 5 seconds or less. While this drill won’t make or break him, it will give evaluators an idea of how he fits their system, and a better 40 time makes him a more versatile fit for NFL teams, including the Raiders.

    3. Body Control Drill: the body control drill for defensive linemen is simple: explode out of a three-point stance a the snap, break down, then explode in the signaled direction quickly and sprint to the edge, then turn quickly and head upfield. One of the knocks on Brown’s game is that he is often a step slower than even his own teammates off the ball at the snap, though his size, strength and athletic ability allow him to overcome his slow start and beat blockers anyway.

    This drill, though primarily designed to demonstrate body control, is very much a reaction-time drill, and this is what evaluators will want to see from Brown. They will be watching closely to see how quickly he reacts to the simulated snap, and then how quickly he reacts to the signaled direction and explodes toward the cones. Brown should be spending his time off practicing get-offs over and over in preparation for this drill.

    Next: DL Prospect to Watch: Owa Odighizuwa