Kyron Brown 6’ 1” 195 lbs CB Akron
Kyron Brown has the kind of size teams look for in an boundary corner. He is not the most muscled CB, but he plays a physical brand of football and is not intimidated by anyone. He played primarily in man, off man, and zone coverages but has the size and ball skills to be worked into any press man or hybrid type schemes as well. He did an interview with Zach Hicks of Stample Blue so we can view some of his comments about his game and what he brings to the Jets.
He tied a Zips record by playing in 51 games at Akron, starting all 26 the last two years. He was a hard worker in the weight room and won the “Iron Zip” award for his efforts as a senior. He was also honored as the best junior player on the defense (2017) and was voted a team captain as a senior.
When he was asked about what his best traits he brings to the NFL, “I would say my length, my length is definitely something I use to my advantage when getting my hands on receivers. The thing that you don’t really see on film is my football IQ so I really think that is one of my better qualities. Just from playing so much, I got a lot of reps in college like almost every game after I redshirted, so from my experience and just learning the game over the years I’d say my IQ is a strength.”
He played in the MAC for a team with a modest history so he was overlooked by many scouts but was able to play in the NFLPA Bowl to get some recognition. He was not a stand out performer at the NFLPA Bowl so he was not invited to the NFL Combine. He did have a positive experience at the Bowl game and was coached by a Hall of Fame player.
Discussing the game he said, “Wonderful experience man. Just learning the business of the NFL, they had a lot of NFL personnel come speak with us. The coaches were great, I got coached by Hall of Famer Darrell Green and he taught me a lot of things to take my game to the next level so all in all it was a wonderful experience and I’m glad I got the opportunity to do that.”
On this first play you will see some good and a few bad things he can work on . He is in man coverage but he doesn’t get his hands on the receiver, and thus he lets him cross his face. He is using the kick-step method of coverage (I will explain later) so it is imperative to get hands on the receiver to keep him going in that direction. He also drops his inside foot back which is a no no but is still able to keep up with the play.
Step kick technique in coverage
Step kick is a technique that has been around since the early 80’s and it differs from other coverage techniques because it keeps the receiver in front of you and allows you to keep an eye on the QB. This is the technique that was taught by Pete Carroll in Seattle, and Kris Richard perfected the coverage.
Basically you stand directly in front of the receiver in man coverage. When the ball is snapped you don’t move forward (bump & run) or back (mirroring), but the outside foot will step sideways. The receiver can try and juke you and take false steps, but you can not take a step back. It takes a lot of patience to play this technique. Eventually the receiver has to get into his route. Since he can’t go through the defender he has to commit to one side or the other. Thus the receiver makes the first move. Whichever direction the receiver moves, you kick in that direction. The step is for patience, and the kick is for position.
The eyes stay on the receiver’s numbers, and the body has to stay square. Opening the gate or turning the hips early is a no-no. When they strike with their hands within the 5-yard window, they target the receiver’s pectoral muscles. And that happens simultaneously with the kick.
Most schemes teach trail technique in which defensive backs essentially follow the wide receivers from behind. But the kick step technique demands the CB to stay on top of the receiver and leading the way. As Kris Richard describes the technique; ”Really, the biggest advantage is the wide receiver making his declaration in the way he’s going. Once he makes a declaration to us, he’s the one confined to timing and spacing. We don’t know where he’s going, so we’re just covering. We’re reactors. Again, once he makes his declaration, it allows us to react.”
Since he is playing the step kick technique, his first step should be sideways with the outside foot, keeping the receiver in front of him.
If he was playing press he would need to play off the inside shoulder and make his man take the outside release. In this way he can squeeze the receiver against the sideline, reducing the area the QB has to throw to plus making the QB throw over top of him.
What he does well is staying with the receiver, flipping his hips quickly (especially for a taller CB) while staying in sync with the receiver. He uses that impressive length he mentioned earlier to make a play on the ball. He needs to clean up some technical things, but he showed you on the first clip that he has NFL type skill if he can develop it.
When asked about being physical as a corner (something he really didn’t show on the first clip) he said, “Yeah I definitely pride myself in being physical as a corner. I’m bigger than a lot of corners so that is something that I use to my advantage. My physicality, my long arms, just knowing what makes your game different from the rest is always an advantage so I like being physical a lot.”
Here he shows some of that physical play.
Brown is in off coverage and first has to avoid the block of the slot receiver. He is in space so it is not an easy tackle. The receiver accentuates that by giving Brown a jab step to the inside and then sliding to the outside. You can see Brown settles himself down, gets in good tackling position, and is able to make a leg tackle on the play. It would have been best if he played the outside left shoulder of the receiver forcing him back inside where all the help is. But he did keep his head up the entire play and was able to quickly move to his right to keep the play to a one yard gain. Brown is a sure tackler who had over 125 tackles in his Zips career, which is a good amount for a boundary corner.
Brown is going to make his money first as a special teams player and then in coverage. He started the last 26 games but still played on punt coverage, punt return and kick off teams. He is not adverse to playing on the ST squad in the NFL, “I’ve played special teams my whole life so it’s kind of second nature to me man. I’d definitely love to play special teams in the NFL. I know how important it is and how it can change games so I take pride in playing special teams. I know a lot of starters don’t like special teams but going into the NFL, you aren’t going to be the starter right away so I would definitely love playing special teams when I get there.”
Being a great special teams player will help him make the team, but being great in coverage is going to make him a game changer with a secure spot on the team.
Here he is playing off coverage and actually gets help from the receiver. The receiver comes off the snap fast and eats up the cushion provided by the off coverage. The receiver has a step to the inside tract, and the QB reads this. The problem is the receiver moves outside, and the ball is thrown short and to the inside. Had the receiver stayed inside, the ball hits him in the chest. He would have Brown having to play through him to play the ball.
Fortunately the receiver went outside, and Brown does well to stay with the receiver. He does a nice job of getting his head around when the receiver looks up. From there he uses his length and ball skills to make a nice INT and take away a scoring opportunity.
He was in off coverage on that play (which is a mirror & match type coverage), but when asked which style of coverage he prefers (mirror & match or kick step) he said, “I learned step-kick at Akron so I’m pretty comfortable with that one but I think I’m a very fast learner so I think I’m able to do both. I would prefer step-kick though.”
This next play is down in the red zone so he is playing a zone defense and reading the QB’s eyes. This what experience does for a corner (playing in 51 games). He reads the QB staring down his receiver and waits until the QB starts his wind up before he breaks on the ball.
You can see the ball skills I mentioned earlier. He cuts in front of the receiver and makes a nice away from the body two handed grab almost like he was the intended receiver. He intercepts the ball at the 6 yard line and is able to bring it back to the 28 yard line of the offensive team.
He was often switched over to bigger receivers because of his size. Here he is again in off coverage against a 6’ 3 215 lbs receiver.
He is in the receiver’s hip pocket all the way to the end zone and uses his length effectively to knock the ball away. He looks befuddled walking back to the huddle because the offensive team ran the same play (to the opposite side of the field) against him the snap before.
Like I said, Akron would slide him over in coverage against the taller receivers of the opposing teams. On this play he is going against Allen Lazard of Iowa State (6’ 5 222 lbs) who is a physical receiver and the mentor to Hakeem Butler.
This was again in off coverage, and Brown is stride for stride with Lazard down the field. He gets himself a little off balance on the play because he turned back the wrong way and wrong footed himself. He does a nice job of turning back to look for the ball. If he had turned the right way he had a good chance for a pick.
In summary, I think Brown has the size and talent to play in the NFL, but he needs to have his technique refined. Although he is not as fast as you would like from a boundary corner (4.54/40), he appears to be a coachable kid and is coming to a team with a dearth of quality players at his position. He played in a wide variety of coverages so he is not adverse to blending his coverages during a game.
Plus he has the right mindset for a rookie. He said of any team that signs him, “They are going to get a hard working young man, somebody that wasn’t ever given anything and has had to work for everything. I’m used to working hard, I’m used to being the underdog, and I know I’m an underdog in this Draft class. You are just going to get somebody that works hard and is willing to learn from the vets while also not conceding to the vets. I’m confident in my abilities, I’m going to work hard, I’ll be active in the community (I love helping others), so just a great person overall who is just ready to work and do whatever it takes to bring wins to your football team.”
The two things that will determine if Kyron Brown makes the 53 man roster are 1) how well he takes to NFL coaching and 2) how he performs on special teams. If he shows upside as a prospect and becomes a special teams maven, he will be here opening day. If he falls short of these goals but shows some upside he will be a practice squad candidate and potential late season call up because of the Jets’ dreadful assortment of cornerbacks. We will see what DB coach Dennard Wilson can do with him.
What do you think?