I just wanted to take a minute to write about a guy that I think hasn't been written about, talked about, and is being ignored. Sammy Brown is being treated like the red headed stepchild of football right about now. Maybe you've heard the name, and maybe you haven't, but I'm making it my job to make sure you know who this guy is.
Whitney Mercilus had 1 amazing year in college football and lead the nation with 16.5 sacks and he's talked about as the #1 defensive end/outside linebacker prospect in football. This man Sammy Brown finished 2nd in the country to Mercilus with 13.5 sacks last year and didn't even get a combine invite. He's a senior with no hype, and is largely ignored on all major draft boards. Why that is could be because of his soft conference, JUCO petigree, or the terrible defense he plays on. I'm not ignoring him, and neither should you. Watch the highlights or just read the analysis. Just please read. All opinions are welcome.I'll try to get to the point here. The Jets have an anemic, slow footed, front 7 pass rush. If you wanted to compare it to a ferocious animal, it would be a dying and whimpering one crawling to the quarterback. The other major problem is the line backers speed to cover the tight ends and backs. Rex says he doesn't care if the guy can't cover if he can get after the QB. Well, this guy can do both. He's fast, and it shows up on film. I'm not saying he's great, because he's raw, but he has speed. When I watch him (and it was hard to find a lot of film on him) he burns up a lot of energy and runs out of steam sometimes. He's not a non stop motor guy, but he's a guy that will bust his butt, and get gassed as the game wears on and snaps pile up.
This guy is not going to win by being strong, but he is fast, and it shows on the field. Sammy Brown is listed as 6'2 and 243 ounds. Unofficial 40 times have him listed at 4.56 or so, he plays faster than that, and has very good burst from a standing position. This is a pretty long film, so you can see a lot of what he can do and what he can't. He's got a Maybin kind of technique in that he can get to the QB, but if you run directly at him he can get pushed back. His cons lie in run defense, but his pros lie in pass defense which is what the Jets could use.
In this video you will see:
The 2nd snap of the video he puts pressure on the QB without even laying a hand on the right tackle.
25 second mark he splits the LT and LG and at the QB in a matter of 2 seconds. (27-29 second of video)
1:59 he sets the edge against the LT, disengages, and runs down the back in space.
2:13 He takes on the right tackle and forces a holding penalty because the RT can't keep him out of the backfield
2:40 he drops into a short zone for pass coverage. QB scrambles right to opposite side of field. He runs him down on the other side of the field. (sideline to sideline playmaking ability in action)
4:18 Opposing teams tries to option and counter to the opposite side of the field. He is in the backfield sacking the QB almost as the QB would be handing off. Quickness off the snap has him in the backfield again.
4:30 On the next 2 consecutive plays he's going to use his hands and his speed to beat the tackle inside and then outside. He gets a bit wild and runs himself out of the play on one, but he is getting to where he wants on the field.
6:50 The QB fumbles a shotgun snap. He's there fast enough to almost fall on the ball before the QB can. Think about that. The ball is shotgun snapped to the QB 5 yards behind the line, and by the time it hits the ground the linebacker almost grabs it before the QB.
7:50 They overload the left side of the formation. The offense sees it and goes to a quick slant. He still puts pressure on the QB. Pass is thrown off balance and incomple because of his speed to the QB.
8:35 Pass coverage. Covering the short zone. He picks up the running back running who is running a backfield flat route. He reads the QB, and drops further back to cover underneath on a tight end. The QB has no where to throw and takes off running.
8:56 Uses his arm under move and speed (similar to Maybin) to blow by the tackle and sack the QB.
9:35 he causes a hold and the QB has to throw the ball early because of his quick first step. The hold wasn't called, but it was blatant.
10:20 This is my favorite play. The play is an option.QB fakes an exchange to the running back. Brown just about tackles the back, realizes the QB kept it in the option. He then turns around and runs down the QB that had run past him. If there were 2 footballs in this play, he would have tackled both ball carriers in the same play. That's some waterboy Bobby Butchee crap right there.
10:30 He fakes a blitz and runs with the receiver down the seam in the middle while keeping his sight on the QB in the backfield. Has the speed to run with the receiver but still peak at what's going on in the backfield. He is effortless in man coverage. Raw, but effortless.
10:38 Blows up a trick play with his speed and knocks a pass down.
This is lengthy, I know, but it shows what he can give you. He brings production in the passing game through blitzing, dropping into coverage, and his range. Sammy Brown is currently not rated in the top 25 or 30 linebackers in this years draft. There isn't even a round he's projected to go in. To me he represents a Santonio Holmes type of talent, only on the defensive side of the ball. He can affect the game in different ways, he has speed to make plays, and he causes a lot of mistakes and penalties that get your team yardage. That's where he and Tone comparisons stop though. The ability to put pressure on the other side of the ball to the point where you cause penalties often is an understated talent.
I realize that Conference USA is not a football power house, but Houston went 13-1 this year. I realize the competition he faced wasn't top notch, but he still notched 13.5 sacks this year and 28 tackles for loss, and he wasn't blitzing every passing down as you can see. He's not a 1 year wonder like Whitney Mercilus. He had 8 sacks last year and 20 tackles for loss. He's not a 1 trick pony like Bruce Irvin of West Virginia. He plays runs, passes, he drops back, he's all over the field, and he plays every down they need him out on the field.
He's somewhere around 6'2 and 240, but he looks like he could gain another 5-10 pounds and still be fast. He is not strong in the run game where he can get pushed back and knocked around, but he does try. Hopefully a couple extra pounds of muscle will help add some strength to hold his ground.
If your a fan like I am, you saw how painfully slow the line backing corps looked this season. The Raiders in particular looked like they were running circles around them. The Jets need speed just as much as they need anything else. Sammy Brown is a good step in that direction. Right now there are roster spots for Jamal Westermen, Garrett McEntyre, Nick Belore. These guys all represent special teams, and 2nd string players. All of those guys don't bring to the table what this guy does. Speed. He can play special teams and come in on 3rd downs to pass rush better than any of those players. Probably for way less money.
He might not even be a 7th round selection, but I hope he is. If he's not I hope he's the first phone call the Jets make. 13.5 sacks this year and 8 last year is no fluke from a guy who is just starting to scratch the surface. If you like what you read here are some other writers who had something to say about him.