2021 NFL draft prospects: Alabama OG Deonte Brown

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Eric Edholm
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Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Alabama OG Deonte Brown

6-foot-3, 364 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.76 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Brown is a bull-strong wide body who flashes light feet but would be more dominant 20 pounds lighter

Games watched: Auburn (2019), Missouri (2020), Texas A&M (2020), Tennessee (2020), Ohio State (2020)

The skinny: A 3-star Rivals recruit in the 2016 class, Brown took a few seasons before seeing the field. He redshirted in 2016 and was a reserve (35 snaps in 14 games) offensive lineman who saw snaps on field-goal and extra-point tries. In 2018, Brown saw time as a reserve at both guard spots (about 25 snaps per game) until starting five games down the stretch for the national runners-up. He missed parts of two games with a toe injury and was suspended prior to the playoffs. Brown’s suspension carried over for the first four games of the 2019 season, but he started eight of nine games at right guard that season. The redshirt senior returned in 2020, starting all 13 games for the national champs, earning first team All-SEC honors (coaches). He also attended the 2021 Senior Bowl.

Upside: Mass of humanity — almost as wide as he is tall. Dense frame with barrel chest and tree-trunk legs.

Outstanding drive blocker who pushes defenders like most players push a blocking sled — will shove some defensive tackles 5 yards off their spot. Freakish weight-room strength. Underrated feet that keep moving on contact. Will carry a mass advantage against nearly every foe, even in the NFL.

Very effective tandem blocking — lands initial shot, gains displacement and looks for more work. Keeps his body square and maximizes power. Keeps feet underneath him with contact. As strong an anchor as there was in college football the past few seasons.

Actually asked to pull out and lead the run game on the move — can wrap effectively for such a huge man. Stays balanced and disciplined in space. Hands always up and ready to fire out. Nice wide pass-blocking stance and able to redirect counter rushes and DL twists and stunts. Good vision and technique — well-coached and it shows.

Handled Auburn’s Derrick Brown (No. 7 overall pick of Carolina Panthers in 2020) about as well as anyone in 2019. Played both guard spots extensively. Played well in both playoff games and was tested weekly in feast-or-famine SEC. Zero sacks allowed in nearly 1,000 career pass-blocking reps.

Showed steady improvement with each passing season. Technique issues of his early starts were not visible on 2020 tape. Rarely overaggressive and under control extensively.

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 30: American offensive lineman Deonte Brown of Alabama (65) during the 2021 Reese's Senior Bowl on January 30, 2021 at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.  (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Alabama OG Deonte Brown is a massive drive blocker whose weight needs to get under control. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Downside: Doesn’t possess NFL-caliber quickness. Will always be at a disadvantage pass blocking athletic 3-techniques — think Aaron Donald — in upfield rush schemes. Doesn’t possess the athletic skill or reactionary timing to cut off blitzing back-seven defenders. Feet must be faster to hold up against NFL rushers.

Not effective getting to second level on screens. Looked sluggish when asked to do so at Senior Bowl. Getting to the edge in the run game will be tougher against NFL defenders — heavy, lumbering mover past 4-5 yards. Has trouble locating and adjusting to landmarks.

Battled weight issues (was up around 400 pounds as a freshman) and inconsistency early in his career. Would be a monster if he dropped 20-25 pounds and kept the weight off. Suspended six games over two seasons in 2018 and 2019 by NCAA.

Lacks great length for such a big man — short arms (32 3/8 inches) and smallish hands (9 1/8 inches). Can be long-armed and lose leverage. Doesn’t grab and drive and can fall off blocks too quickly at times. Isn’t the ornery slobber knocker you might expect.

Guard only (other than emergency situations) and more likely a right guard, which he hasn’t played since 2019.

Best-suited destination: Brown is meant for a gap-blocking scheme where his power can help pave the ground game and where he’s not asked to handle elite quickness inside without help. His length and weight might turn some teams off, but for power-blocking systems and run-heavy teams (Raiders, Seahawks, Dolphins, Bills, Titans, Patriots, e.g.) he’d be a nice fit.

Did you know: Brown is good friends with former Bama OL and Ravens starter Bradley Bozeman. When Brown texts or calls Bozeman’s cell, his name shows up as “Cornbread” — Bozeman’s nickname for Brown.

Player comp: A slightly less talented Damien Lewis, who was a rookie standout for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020. We can’t help but wonder what Brown might be if he dropped 20 pounds. Perhaps he’d look like Patriots 2020 sixth-rounder Michael Onwenu, who was one of the best rookie linemen in football last year.

Expected draft range: Rounds 2 or 3