Competition level, production, postseason workouts and character concerns all seem to play a major role every year when evaluating prospects for the NFL Draft. Today, the National Football Post takes a look at two of the nation’s top offensive tackles — Southern Cal’s Charles Brown and Rutgers’ Anthony Davis — and breaks them down to determine their potential at the next level.
Tale of the tape
Brown: 6-6, 303, 35-1/4-inch reach, 11-3/8 hands, 5.21 40 time, 1.77 10-yard split, 21 reps, 31.5-inch vertical, 8-foot-5-inch broad jump
Davis: 6-5, 323, 34-inch reach, 10-1/8 hands, 5.36 40 time, 1.82 10-yard split, 21 reps, 33-inch vertical, 8-foot-3-inch broad jump
In a matchup that features two of the draft’s top offensive tackle prospects, we take a look at the seasoned senior technician in Charles Brown vs. the immature, yet vastly talented, Anthony Davis. Therefore, the key to evaluating the two prospects is answering the question: Three years from now, who is the better NFL offensive tackle? Here’s our take on the matter as we break down both prospects and shed some light on the guy we would take come draft day.
One of the biggest questions I have in this year’s draft is how can Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung be considered a potential top-five pick, while Southern Cal offensive tackle Charles Brown is considered a second-round prospect to many? The way I see it, there isn’t a whole lot separating the two in terms of overall talent and upside at the next level, and I think both could end up having very similar NFL careers.
Therefore, the idea that Brown isn’t consistently regarded as a top-five offensive tackle prospect in this year’s draft just blows my mind.
Brown is a tall, narrowly built athlete who showcases impressive body control and range off the edge in pass protection and does a great job of keeping his base down, extending his long arms and anchoring for a guy who only weighs 303 pounds. Now, the one concern I have with him is his overall lack of ideal power at the point of attack, as he isn’t a guy who can simply manhandle defenders on contact in either the run or pass game.
However, what makes Brown so effective is his combination of athleticism, flexibility and overall technique in all areas of the game. He does a great job maintaining his balance and keeping his base down on his initial kick-slide, plus he really looks natural extending his long arms, controlling blockers at the point and staying on opposing linemen through contact. Brown’s body control and coordination are two areas that really stand out to me in pass protection, as the guy consistently is able to move his feet through contact, mirror in space and stick to blocks through the play.
He’s also very natural in space when asked to pull and get out to the second level in the run game, and although he has a slight tendency to fall off blocks from time to time because of his lack of ideal power/strength, Brown still looks like a perfect fit as a zone- blocking left tackle in the NFL.
Now, as for the 6-5, 323-pound Rutgers product, Davis has the type of size, length and overall girth to simply engulf pass rushers at the point of attack once he gets into their body. However, unlike Brown, he lacks ideal body control and patience in pass protection and has a tendency to get way too high off the snap, isn’t real clean or technically sound with his footwork and consistently gets overextended into blocks.
Plus, Davis isn’t a real explosive athlete off the snap and will struggle in the run game when asked to get out of his stance quickly and reach defenders off his frame.
However, although Davis is extremely raw and there are plenty of areas of his game that need work, he still has found a way — because of his pure physical skill set — to win most of his battles on the outside at the college level. Now, he still has a long way to go, but there is a lot of intriguing untapped potential to his game that gives Davis one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in this year’s draft, and it’s one of the main reasons why he is still considered a first-round prospect. Not because of where he is now, but where he could be with some time and development.
The wild card
As you often see in comparing a redshirt senior to a true junior prospect, there is a major discrepancy in overall maturity between these two. Brown is a former tight end who not only made the move to offensive tackle while redshirting as a freshman, but has also had to battle his fair share of adversities while fighting for a starting job at USC — family and health issues. And through it all he has definitely come out ready to take his game to the next level.
Davis, on the other hand, is still learning how to handle himself at this stage, as he is only a 20-year-old kid and still has a lot of growing up to do. He came off as a very passive individual when I had a chance to talk to him earlier in the year and really seems to lack an overall passion to his play on the field. He’s a guy who doesn’t seem to consistently like to finish blocks, has struggled with his weight throughout the course of his college career and simply doesn’t seem to have the kind of killer instinct or work ethic needed to live up to his potential at the next level.
He’s very immature at this stage in his development and, much like I said when breaking down Dez Bryant, immature players struggle to handle adversity and play through any kind of tough situations. And up until this point I would say that can definitely be said about Davis.
Not only do I have firm convictions that Brown is the better overall prospect at this stage, but I also see him being the better overall player throughout the course of his NFL career.
Now, if both players where to hit their ceiling and optimize their full potential, my pick would be Davis. However, with all the questions surrounding Davis’ work rate, technique and overall immaturity, Brown is simply too good and too safe of a player to pass up.
Brown lacks the impressive overall girth and natural power at this stage that Davis possesses, but he’s a guy who is going to get stronger with time and, in my opinion, could end up having an NFL career very similar to the one of Russell Okung — the likely No. 4 overall pick in the draft.
NFL player comparison
Anthony Davis = George Foster, Denver Broncos
Charles Brown = D’Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets
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