KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The book in April 2012 said this, on giant stone tablets chiseled by Mel Kiper’s hair:
“6-foot-0.5, 210 pounds … 40 time: 4.58 … Lacks size and overmatched by opponents … not a strong tackler with the ability to bring ballcarriers down on initial contact …swallowed up by blocks and struggles getting through the trash.”
The book in April 2013 says this, same tablets, same hair:
“6-foot-0.5, 241 pounds … 40 time: 4.66 … Undersized, gets caught up in the trash, and easily blocked from the action by opponents.”
Two linebackers, largely the same profile. One with a little more bulk, one with slightly better quicks. Both, apparently, with sanitation issues.
Brand A? Lavonte David, then with Nebraska, now with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers got him with pick No. 58, late in the second round. In hindsight, it proved to be one of the stone-cold steals of last spring. Despite those “trash” problems, the former Cornhusker collected 139 tackles in his first year as a pro, seventh in the NFL, and recorded a whopping 20 tackles for losses — the most by a league rookie since Kendrell Bell’s 23 in 2001.
Brand B? Our man Arthur Brown, one of the non-Collin Klein seniors who helped carry Kansas State all the way to the Fiesta Bowl.
We bring this up not to pick on the site that penned both scouting reports — DraftInsider.Net — but to underscore a point: In today’s NFL, size at middle linebacker, 4-3 scheme or 3-4, doesn’t mean diddly poo. In a world of spread offenses, dual-threat quarterbacks, quick slants and Peyton Manning, the line between “mike” linebacker and safety is blurring more by the year, leaving only two questions that matter:
1) Can you get there, son? 2) OK, then, how quickly?
“I’m a little more familiar with the (MLB) position, just because that’s what I played throughout my college years,” Brown, who’s projected to be off the draft board anywhere between late in the first round and the middle of the second, tells FOX Sports Kansas City. “But I definitely don’t consider myself to be limited to one particular spot as well. It’s definitely going to depends on the scheme or the need of the team.”
Because whether it’s a 3-4 or a 4-3 base, the bottom line is the same: How well you move laterally, hashmark to hashmark, means as much, if not more, than the old downhill motor. To that end, the former Wildcat has spent much of the past three months going over NFL concepts and schemes, trying to get the language down until it’s rote.
Well, that, and traveling.
Lots and lots of traveling.
“Yeah, I’ve been in and out of airports,” Brown chuckles.
Over the past two months, the Wichita native has checked off trips to Chicago, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Cincinnati. This week: New England, followed by New Orleans.
Then again, if there was ever a March and April to be out of the southern plains, brother, this would have to be the one.
“I think I missed the monster ice storm that came through here,” said Brown, who’s divided his local workouts between his hometown and Manhattan, Kan. “I was on an airplane somewhere.”
Hey, during the NFL’s nitpicky season — January to late April — if you’re going to build up a little momentum, better to get it late. After missing January’s Senior Bowl and much of February’s combine with a shoulder injury, the Brown bandwagon started picking up steam again during K-State’s Pro Day in March. There, the linebacker reportedly ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, and the more scouts saw of Brown’s wheels and closing speed, the bigger their eyes got.
He’s also a relatively safe investment, at least compared to some of the “hotter” linebacking peers. Georgia’s Alec Ogletree is a 6-foot-2 beast, but a pre-combine DUI raised maturity questions. And Manti Te’o? Geez, where do we start?
“I just take the 1-and-0 approach,” Brown offers, echoing the words of his former coach, Bill Snyder. “I take it one day at a time and try not to get ahead of myself.”
But ahead he is, thanks in at some small part to the scouting reports from his little brother, Bryce Brown, who was drafted in the seventh round last April by the Eagles. The younger Brown turned heads late last fall by starting four games for Philadelphia at tailback in place of the injured LeSean McCoy, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and scoring four touchdowns along the way.
“There are times when he’ll mention, just about the game, (how) the game has not changed from college to the NFL as far as just your love and your passion for the game,” Arthur says. “You have to continue to keep that and continue to play with that and don’t allow all of the other components that factor into it at the next level distract you from the game.”
And let’s give credit where it’s due: The gang at DraftInsider also noted that the ex-K-State defender had a game “reminiscent of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, and Brown comes with much upside potential.” Good company, that.
“I haven’t really heard of the comparisons — I guess I really haven’t been reading up on it too much,” says Brown, “To be compared against someone of that caliber and that (type of) professional is something not to be taken lightly.”
Brown sure as heck won’t. And it’s funny how being undersized didn’t stop the Kansan from picking off Robert Griffin III or Geno Smith in their Big 12 days, nor keep him from averaging 100.5 stops over the previous two seasons. No. 4 may not wade through “trash” as well as some tacklers. But when the lights go on, the man sure knows a thing or two about cleaning up.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com