Colts Draft Analysis: Auburn’s Derrick Brown pushes the defense to the top of the NFL

Auburn’s Derrick Brown is a behemoth on the defensive line. He might be the answer to the Colts problem up front, pushing the unit to the top of the NFL.

All things considered, the Colts did have an above-average front seven last year against the run, ranking 7th overall in the league. However, a gaping hole in that unit is the ability to get to the quarterback. Ranking 16th in the NFL in total sacks, it’s apparent that they played a major role in the secondary underperforming as often as they did.

Yes, the secondary does need to develop, however it was the inability to end plays before they get past the line of scrimmage that was the main concern on the Colts’ defense in 2019. Although not the “sexiest” pick at 13th overall, it would be very wise for the front office to look at drafting a defensive lineman in the draft to patch up that hole in the defense; it would begin to bring the young Colts defensive unit to the top of the NFL.

Enter Auburn’s Derrick Brown. At 6’5″ and 318 pounds, Brown is an absolute behemoth in the middle of the defensive line and the best interior lineman in the draft. His raw power and physicality at the line of scrimmage allows him to easily work by opposing offensive lineman and get to the quarterback.

His first step after the snap is unrivaled by any other defensive prospect in the draft this year. What stands out the most is the quickness in his first step and first move. Brown has the innate ability to power through defenders because of that first step; it allows him to gain the immediate advantage and wreck the ensuing play.

Brown also has incredibly quick hands for someone his size; he forced two fumbles in 2019, recovering both, and defended 4 passes. He also compiled 54 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. He finished the year as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the 2019 winner of the Ronnie Lott Trophy, the award given to the College Football Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year.

Brown is exactly what the Colts need, an impact player on the defensive line. The team hasn’t had a player of Brown’s caliber for more than 10 years (when Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney were both in the primes of their careers) and have fallen to a revolving door strategy at the position recently. Some players have had a good impact in stretches, but never for a prolonged amount of time.

Margus Hunt had a solid season in 2018 but fell off last season and was subsequently replaced in favor of younger talent as the season wore on. Jabaal Sheard has played well but is showing signs of age.Justin Houston had a stellar comeback season in 2019 but doesn’t fall into the mold of an interior lineman, the position the Colts need most amongst that unit.

Adding Brown gives a new identity for the line, one that demands physicality, power, and speed. This is the philosophy that Chris Ballard believes in; Brown is not only one of the top talents in the draft but a player who will fit easily into Ballard’s Colts culture.

Not convinced of Brown yet? The last time the Colts drafted a defensive lineman as high as the 13th pick, it was the team’s 2002 11th overall pick. The player? Dwight Freeney. Granted, it was during the Bill Polian regime, however, Chris Ballard’s drafting ability is arguably better than that of Polian’s, and the current Colts GM will draft the best player for the team.

At the 13th pick, it’s hard not to argue that the player will be named Derrick Brown. Paired with Houston and Sheard on the line and All-Pro Darius Leonard behind him, the Colts would be in a prime position to return the defense to the top of the NFL.