Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Illinois Fighting Illini NFL Draft Preview: Jonathan Brown

The 2014 NFL Draft might be kicking off tonight in New York City, but Illinois fans can be certain that Illinois’ Jonathan Brown will not be selected in the first round of the draft.

However, Brown is a quality linebacker that will see his name called at some point during the draft. The big questions are: Where will he go and who will draft him?

Jonathan Brown: Vitals

Height: 6’0”
Weight: 238 lbs.
Position: Outside Linebacker
Arm Length: 33”
Hand Length: 9 3/8”
High School: Christian Brothers (Tennessee)

Illinois Stats and Overview

Jonathan Brown played in a total of 12 games as a true freshman for the Fighting Illini. In his freshman campaign, he recorded 31 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, 0.5 sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble. In his sophomore season, Brown was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media and was an honorable mention selection by the coaches while ranking sixth in the nation in tackles-for-loss with 1.63 per game. As a junior, he played in only nine games due to a shoulder injury, but still was named as a Butkus Award semifinalist. In his final year in Champaign, Brown started all 12 games and led the team in tackles (119), tackles-for-loss (15.0), sacks (5.0) and tied for the team lead in passes broken up (4). He also ranked second in the Big Ten and 18th nationally with 9.9 tackles per game.

NFL Combine Results

40 Yard Dash: 5.03 sec
Bench Press: 16 reps
Three Cone Drill: 7.77 sec
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.56 sec
Broad Jump: 108 inch
Vert Jump: 31.0 inch

Strengths and Weaknesses

From an expert Nolan Nawrocki-

Strengths: Nice arm length for his size. Athletic with good feet. Quick to shoot gaps. Natural bender who moves very well laterally. Excellent range — thrives in pursuit. Productive tackler who flashes pop on contact. Has special-teams experience. Football smart. Good weight-room work ethic. Three-year starter. Was a 21-year-old senior.

Weaknesses: Safety size. Shoddy instincts and eye discipline. Does not play a big man’s game — skirts blocks instead of taking on with force. Unschooled to blocking schemes. Leaky contain player. Loses gap integrity, takes some inaccurate angles and runs himself out of position to make plays. Effectiveness wanes in traffic. Struggles in man coverage and zone awareness is limited. Intermittent intensity and urgency. Uneven performance. Alarmingly disappointing at the combine, raising questions about his conditioning and work ethic: totaled just 16 bench-press reps, broad jumped 8 feet, 11 inches, vertical jumped 31 inches, recorded a 7.77-second 3-cone drill, recorded a 4.56-second short shuttle and ran a 12.38-second 60-yard shuttle — all of which ranked at or near the bottom of linebackers.

Draft Projections

If Jonathan Brown is going to be taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, it is going to on Day Three. Brown will most likely be a 7th Round draft pick in 2014. If he isn’t drafted, there’s no question that a team will pick him up as an undrafted free agent. Either way, Jonathan Brown will be signed by an NFL team.

Bottom Line

Brown is athletic and a quality linebacker. However, he is inconsistent and undersized. He will need to earn his keep on the special teams and bulk up in size in order to be a linebacker in the NFL.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.

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Tags: Football Illinois Fighting Illini Jonathan Brown NFL Draft

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