Could Zach Brown Help The Lions In 2o18?
After Monday’s announcement of the 2018 NFL salary cap, $177.2 million, the Lions currently have a little over $26 million in cap space per over the cap. It has been previously discussed how they will run multiple formations on the defensive side and how they have minimal linebacker depth currently on the roster (3 linebackers signed for the 2018 season). With this in mind, the Lions could certainly add depth pieces that also have the ability to make an impact in certain situations on their defense and could even start if a new system, new coaches, and a new environment allow them to be successful. A free agent linebacker that could be a good fit for the Lions is Zach Brown who recently played for the Washington Redskins.
I have watched five of Brown’s games from the 2017 season and have prepared an in-depth report that will give you an idea if the Lions should have any interest or not.
Name: Zach Brown
Position: 4-3 ILB, 3-4 ILB
DOB: 10-23-89 (28 years old)
College: North Carolina
Drafted: 2012 – 2nd – Tennessee Titans
Former Team: Washington Redskins
Games Played: 78
Games Started: 62
2017- Ankle (Week 10), Achilles (Weeks 11-12, 14, 15-17 – OUT), Hamstring (Weeks 15-17 – OUT), Illness (Weeks 15-17- OUT)
2016- No Injuries
2015- Illness (Week 3), Knee (Week 10)
2014- Left Shoulder/Torn Pectoral Muscle (Weeks 1, 2-17 OUT, IR)
2013- Illness (Weeks 3, 17), Hamstring (Week 5)
2012- Knee (Week 3), Illness (Week 7)
2017- 13 games started and played, 2 PD, 2.5 sacks, and 127 tackles (Led Team).
2016- Pro Bowler – 16 games started and played, 1 INT, 4 PD, 2 FF, 4 sacks, and 149 tackles (Led NFL, Team & Career High).
2012- 16 games, 14 starts, 3 INT (Career High), 2 TD, 5 PD, 1 FF, 2 FR, 5.5 sacks (Career High), and 92 tackles.
Career Stats- 62 career starts, 7 INT, 2 TD, 19 PDs, 4 FF, 3 FR, 16.5 sacks, and 536 tackles.
Weight: 244 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.50
10-yard split: 1.52
Arm Length: 33 1/4
Hand Size: 9 1/2
3 Cone: 7.26
Short Shuttle: 4.32
Broad Jump: 116”
Bench Press: 22 reps
2017- @ LAR 09/17, @ KC 10/02, @ PHI 10/23, @ NOR 11/19, @ LAC 12/10
Best: Athletic Ability, Ability to leverage vs run vs TE, Ability to disengage blocks vs run vs TE, Tackling
Worst: Mental Processing, vs Run at POA vs OL, vs Outside Run vs OL, Zone Coverage, Man Coverage, Ball Skills, Blitzing
Athletic Ability: 4/7
Mental Processing: 3/7
Competitive Toughness: 3/7
Play Speed: 3/7
Play Strength: 3/7
Run at Point of Attack: 3/7
Outside Run: 3/7
Zone Coverage: 3/7
Man Coverage: 2/7
Ball Skills: 3/7
Brown is a sixth-year player who started the first thirteen games for the Washington Redskins in 2017 before multiple injuries caused him to miss the last three. Under defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, he was asked to be the inside linebacker in a 3-4 system that implemented both man and zone coverage (Cover 1, Cover 2-4) with occasional inside linebacker blitzes. He has solid size for an inside linebacker in both a 3-4 and 4-3 due to his height (6102), weight (244), arm length (33 1/4), and hand size (9 1/2) are all above the 50th percentile. Brown demonstrates overall solid athletic ability due to solid quickness, agility, balance, and explosiveness.
He displays solid ability to leverage runs at the point of attack and outside against tight ends due to once being engaged physically he demonstrates solid balance, pad level, and effective hand placement to hold, maintain, and keep his gap. Brown has average ability to disengage blocks against tight ends as he is able to get better hand placement, demonstrate solid strength, and effectively shed/rip to get himself in a situation to make a play. He displays solid tackling ability due to average form by going low to high, strength, has solid technique by using the “same shoulder same foot”, he wraps up effectively, and he gets all types of ball carriers down to the ground to show he is a sure tackler. When in man coverage against running backs, he wins when they run a curl or an angle route due to using his inside leverage to be patient. When he is in man coverage against tight ends, he wins when they run curl routes due to his inside leverage.
Brown has an adequate ability to play the run at the point of attack due to marginal mental processing to key and diagnose formations and blocking schemes pre and post-snap as he will not trust his read and is late in his decision making. He displays adequate click and close, marginal ability to leverage against gap and inside zone against offensive linemen as he will already be two-three yards off the ball when contact is made and he gets pushed back even further before he has a chance to leverage his gap. Brown has a marginal ability to disengage blocks as he will bury his head into offensive linemen, use minimal hand placement, and adequate strength to shed/rip effectively. He displays an adequate ability to finish using below average effort, pursuit, and angles to make up for his mistakes.
He is a below average run defender against outside run as he demonstrates marginal mental processing to effectively key and diagnose blocking schemes, especially against outside zone. Brown has adequate click and close and a marginal ability to leverage against offensive linemen against outside zone and gap as he will run under blocks, cannot defend against cut blocks, hit a hole/gap before the running back has committed, and occasionally will display marginal competitive toughness against outside zone and gap by not giving effort and giving up on longer outside runs. He displays marginal ability to disengage blocks against offensive linemen against outside zone and gap as he will get reached easily, use marginal hand placement, has adequate strength, and once an offensive lineman gets his hands on him 1 v 1 in outside gap it is over as he does not shed effectively to make a play. Brown displays marginal competitive toughness and play strength against the run due to not being consistently physical, not competing at a high level every play, and not being mentally tough in critical moments when a big stop is needed.
Brown is an adequate zone coverage defender against wide receivers and tight ends due to adequate mental processing to understand his run/pass reads, understand formations, and know what route combinations to expect. He has a below average ability to key hips and leverage his zone when asked to pattern match as he often gets caught looking at the quarterback and when asked to drop to a spot he is marginal as he stares at quarterback for too long, is not aware of any incoming threats, doesn’t drop deep enough, will take off and run wherever the quarterback is looking leaving his zone, and doesn’t understand playing high to low as he will run upfield to a drag and allow for the dig to be completed.
He is marginal in man coverage against running backs and tight ends as he displays adequate mental processing to understand down & distance and route combinations. Brown displays marginal mirror ability against running backs and tight ends as he gets beat against running backs due to their athletic ability and change of direction on out routes and wheel routes and he gets beat against tight ends on out routes. He loses his 1 v 1 battles due to peeking at the quarterback during his routes, gives too much cushion, and displays an adequate change of direction after the ball is thrown.
Brown has adequate ball skills due to a below average ability to locate, track, and create an incompletion. He displays a marginal ability to disrupt the ball at the catch point due to adequate strength against all receivers, an adequate ability to intercept the ball, and does not attempt to strip the ball when given the opportunity. Brown has an overall below average blitzing ability due to adequate timing, speed, ability to avoid, ability to shed, and finish on the quarterback to move him off his spot, get a sack, or create pressure.
Overall, Brown is a 4-3 or 3-4 inside linebacker role player who has solid athletic ability, ability to leverage and disengage blocks against tight ends on runs plays, and solid tackling skills which would be best used on special teams and certain running situations where he is matched up against a TE. His adequate mental processing, ability to play the run at the point of attack and outside, zone coverage skills, ball skills, blitzing ability and marginal man coverage skills limit him from being a starter you can win in spite of. In free agency, one would expect a team to offer him anywhere from $3-5 million per year or a one-year deal to see how he would fit into a team’s system. The Lions could definitely put an offer on the table and see if he is willing to take it. They could use some depth at the linebacker position and when they would run a 4-3 in certain situations, he would be a nice role player on those plays while adding solid support on special teams.