NFL Draft

2020 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Penn State LB Cam Brown

From now until the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#6 Cam Brown/LB Penn State – 6’5 232

The Good

  • Long, rangy linebacker with big frame and long arms
  • Extensive snaps lining up in space, especially in the slot
  • Has played all over the field for Penn State
  • Tough run defender who will lay the wood
  • Run fits are good, will attack the proper shoulder
  • Very hard to block when attacking the line of scrimmage in run defense
  • Plays well through contact most of the time
  • Looks like a different player when attacking than he does in coverage

The Bad

  • Narrow hipped and slender build, looks like a receiver
  • Lacks natural instincts for coverage
  • Struggles to contribute once receiver has ball in space
  • Poor angles are a cause for concern
  • Mental errors and false steps riddle his film, incredibly inconsistent
  • Missed tackles are a problem, likes to hit and not tackle
  • High-cut and struggles to change directions in short order
  • Runs over and around blocks instead of shedding to get to ball carrier

Bio

  • 198 career tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 11 passes defensed, four forced fumbles
  • Began college at 210 pounds and played against Michigan his freshman year
  • Voted as a team captain for his senior season and a three-time high school captain
  • Voted to All-Big 10 Freshman team by ESPN and BTN
  • Cousin is Andre Davis, who played in the NFL for nine seasons.

Tape Breakdown

Cam Brown certainly looks like the modern NFL linebacker, with a long, rangy build that more resembles a wide receiver than a linebacker. The senior from Penn State stands at 6-5 and a half, with a massive 34 in wingspan and long, lean levers that help him cover ground in a hurry.

Despite his lean frame, Brown is a quality run defender who punches above his weight and shows a knack for attacking the proper shoulder of the lineman in his run fits and getting to the ball carrier. He’s especially effective on run blitzes where he shows an ability to knife into the backfield and disrupt plays.

 

Brown does this from all over the field; lining up in the slot, in the box, and on the end of the line of scrimmage. The Maryland native has spent quite a bit of time in the slot as a linebacker. When he’s confident in his assignment and he has a clean read, he’s effective in attacking bubble screens and underneath routes.

 

The problem is that Brown is really only effective in a linear fashion. When he’s forced to change direction by either a misread or by an offensive player breaking contain, he struggles to be effective. This is particularly pronounced when Brown is in space.

 

The senior linebacker is good in coverage, but not exceptional. His problems are not all physical though. He does not have natural coverage instincts and pulls himself out of position with a lot of false steps. He doesn’t show anticipation to jump routes or to force incompletions. He typically waits until the ball is completed and then makes his move. It’s more concerning that he’s a senior and still struggles with mental errors. It’s also surprising that Brown is not a good man coverage defender despite his length and movement skills, even though he looks like a tight end eraser.

 

Ultimately Cam Brown’s best chance to play in the NFL will likely be as a weak side linebacker who can make plays attacking in underneath, zone coverage. While it’s a limited role, he shows plus run defending abilities and provides flexibility to maintain size in sub-packages. At the very least he’s an excellent special team’s candidate.

Projected Round: 5th

Games Watched:  Penn State vs Ohio State (2018, 2019), vs Kentucky (2019), vs Indiana (2019), Michigan (2018, 2019), vs Pitt (2018, 2019)

 

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