Scouting combine schedule & Zach Brown

February 21st, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

Over the next few days prospects will arrive in Indianapolis to begin preparations for the 2012 combine. The players are split into groups and use a staggered four-day schedule, with the event concluding a week today. Day one for each group includes registration, hospital examinations and x-rays, orientation and interviews. Day two consists of measurements, medicals, media meetings, psychological testing and further interviews. On day three there’s a NFLPA meeting, further testing and interviews. The final and most crucial day includes the work outs (timing, stations and skill drills) and then departure.

Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE)
Group 4 (QB, WO), Group 5 (QB, WO), Group 6 (RB)
Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB)
Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB)

Groups 1-3 will arrive in Indianapolis tomorrow, commence their schedule and begin work outs on Saturday. The quarterbacks, wide outs and running backs will arrive on Thursday and work out on Sunday. Defensive lineman and linebackers will go through drills on Monday and the defensive backs round things off on Tuesday. For a full list of the players invited, click here courtesy of Rob Rang at CBS Sportsline.

For those who are interested in this kind of thing – groups 1-3 will wear black, groups 4-6 red, groups 7-9 green and groups 10-11 blue. One other interesting thing to remember during the combine – the coin toss to determine whether Kansas City or Seattle will pick 11th overall will take place on Friday.

Monday should be an interesting day to see how the front seven players perform – a target area for the Seahawks in this draft. I’ll be paying particular attention to groups 7-9 next week, with several candidates for the #11 or #12 pick on show. One player in particular to keep an eye on is North Carolina’s Zach Brown. Some believe his stock is set for a boost when he works out, with a particularly fast forty-yard dash expected. He’s set records at UNC for sprinting and he flashed explosive speed and athleticism at the Senior Bowl. Any level of hype has been tempered slightly by his size limitations and the fact he’s almost exclusively restricted to the WILL position in the 4-3. However, his best football could be yet to come and don’t be surprised if he moves up the boards after the combine. I’ve added game-tape for Brown below vs Missouri and Louisville.

My own impression of Brown is mixed. There’s undoubted potential there and his athleticism is sometimes understated. He moves fluidly from sideline-to-sideline, can read and react in coverage better than most linebackers I’ve scouted and I’m often surprised how quickly he moves to make the tackle even when he’s transferring from one target to another or stationed on the opposite side of the field. Unfortunately, that mobility and athleticism has never translated to pass-rushing production and part of me remains suspicious of linebackers who don’t bring consistent pressure. The NFL has proven that linebackers can be found later, perhaps more so than any other position in the league. Seattle needs a pass rush on defense more than it needs a great cover linebacker.

Brown’s also not a big hitting force – as you’d expect given his size – and his tackling is occasionally a little sloppy. I found his 2011 tape to be a bit of a mixed bag (like so many UNC prospects) and often it was teammate Kevin Reddick making more plays and looking the better overall football player. Reddick doesn’t possess the same level of raw athleticism, but he may be a better overall player. Brown’s ceiling is undoubtedly higher, but will he realise that potential or prove to be another expensive bust at the position? Nevertheless, NFL teams love speed and athleticism and he will provide real benefits in coverage. If he can refine his pass rushing technique and provide another dimension there, you could be looking at a star. I think he’ll certainly become one of the big talking points at the combine.

I also wanted to bring attention to Tony Pauline’s updated top-50 big board this week for SI.com. It’s worth noting he currently has Zach Brown at #18 with the following write-up: “Brown is a terrific athlete who’s been a consistent force for the Tar Heels. He’s a three-down linebacker who stuffs the run or easily defends running backs and tight ends in coverage.” He’s certainly a draftable option for the Seahawks if their top options leave the board within the first ten picks.

48 Responses to “Scouting combine schedule & Zach Brown”

  1. Karlos says:

    Rob is Zach Brown in the mold of Boss Bailey..? Im trying to get an idea of exactly what kinda player he is with limited resources (No videos @ wrk).

  2. Bill Bobaggins says:

    Rob,

    You bring up a good point when you refer to the fact that most of the UNC prospects are hit and miss with their consistency. It got me thinking…is this a product of poor coaching rather than heart or ability of the kid in question? We’re looking at three potential first rounders out of UNC this year and all seem to have extreme athletic ability marred by glaring question marks.

    I’ll be curious to see what Coples, Brown and Jones do in the NFL. Lots of talent.

  3. jim J says:

    Looking at Tony Paulines draft – even if we don’t get one of the top pass rushers like Upshaw that I would prefer, there are enough great DTs to keep me happy. A player like Brockers or Cox would strengthen the interior push, especially coupled with a defensive end in the second round. Either way it works for me. Who knows, one of those DTs might be able to play DE too.

  4. MeatWad says:

    funny, i was just reading NFL combine information, specifically LB position. Z. Brown was mentioned as a good fit for Seattle.

    http://www.nfl.com/combine/story/09000d5d82715132/article/talent-runs-thick-at-outside-linebacker-ilb-more-uncertain

  5. williambryan says:

    Another thing that weighs on my mind when considering the UNC guys (Coples, Brown) and there concerns, is Kentwan Balmer. There also seems to be a lot of occurences of player suspensions (2010 saw Greg Little, Robert Quinn, and Marvin Austin suspended) and There was also an incident with some agents I believe? Obviously coming from UNC isn’t a reason to just remove them from consideration but it definitely raises some flags.

  6. Hawkspur says:

    The coin toss happens on Friday 7am (PDT I presume).

  7. jim J says:

    I have several reservations about Brown, starting with your statement that Reddick made more plays. I think what it comes down to for a small speedy LB is the extras: they have to be tough, fast, sure tacklers, good at coverage, and able to intercept the ball.

    So I would start by throwing the ball as hard as you can near them, and see if they can catch the ball. If not – they aren’t worth looking at. Have them battle for the ball with a tight end. See who wins! That is what you are looking for with Brown – good coverage and able to stop the run.

  8. Doug says:

    hmmm, seems to be pretty fast though…
    I just don’t see a rd 1 on him

  9. Derek says:

    Rob do you see much of a difference in Brown compared to possibly getting Sean Spence, Lavonte David, or Ronnell Lewis in the second? I feel like Brown at 11/12 is wasted value when you could have one of the previous 3 most likely with your second round pick. I think that if Upshaw, Richardson, and Ingram are all gone, we look to move down. I would hate to spend an 11/12 pick on a defensive player who doesn’t offer any pass rush.

  10. Jim j says:

    Then get a wide receiver instead! Manning or Palmer will thank you :-)

  11. Rob says:

    Appologies for the lack of replies today – I’ve been away with work all day at just arrived home at 3am. I’ll make sure on Wednesday to keep up the discussion prior to this week’s updated mock.

  12. Derek says:

    No problem Rob. I just think if we are sitting at 11/12 and Upshaw, Ingram, Richardson, and Coples (even if he is there I don’t think we take him) are gone, we could be in a good position to trade down for a team looking to get a WR or tackle. And the argument could be made at that point that you aren’t really passing up the opportunity to add an elite play maker to your team in the choice to move down. Unless we are seriously considering a WR at 11/12.

    The one thing I don’t know is who do we target if we move down to the middle or end of round 1.

  13. Michael (CLT) says:

    The Charlotte dumbass, as stated by my good friend Dave, has seen every Tar Heel game since 2001.

    Coples is a freak, and perhaps worth the risk.

    That said. Not one game this year, or last, did Brown’s speed impact the game.

    I rest my case. No way PC draft Curry Part deux.

    If you’re going to draft stupid, go with DeCastro.

  14. Michael (CLT) says:

    Audie Cole. Now there is a Carolina (NCState) that I’m all in for. That kid can play.

  15. Michael (CLT) says:

    Anyone who changes their grade of a player after a combine deserves Aaron Curry.

  16. Brian says:

    This is the second year that NC has had multiple highly touted draft candidates. Does anyone have any concern that NC hasn’t been very competitive in a low grade conference with all of this supposed talent? Seems like an overhyped group. NFL doesn’t need to draft on “potential” like the NBA does, there is enough ready talent that we can find a better prospect in round one. I agree with others; this is Aaron Curry all over again.

  17. jim J says:

    Trading down in the first round is for losers who don’t have the guts to make a pick!

    As has been said by one of our writers – the combine is to gather medical data on the players. The workout is only a small part of it.

    Latest Walter pick was Brocker to the Hawks. Not sure if I want a DT first round, our middle was pretty solid. But he will bring the pass rush no matter where you put him.

  18. Michael (CLT) says:

    I like Brockers. solid guy @ 12. So is still. Fat guys that are athletic are rare!

    I love me some Tannehill @ 12 too.

    Audie Cole is my new ILB for the Hawks. Go State!

  19. Dave says:

    Zach Brown would be a nice addition! I’m glad people are talking about him. Not sure about Brockers, haven’t looked into him too much. I think Tannehill would be a first round throw away and we can’t afford to be drafting second tier QB’s in the first round Michael (CLT). Not sure how you go about ranking your prospects, would love more of your professional insight though. We should take the first round and grab a great pass rush, or Trent Richardson if he falls to us!! Would absolutely love if we could get Brock Osweiler in round 2 or 3.

  20. MattH says:

    Man having watched that Missouri tape a couple times now Zach Brown just looks bad. He’s consistently getting blocked out of plays, missing arm tackles or not wrapping up and in particular, looking a bit lost in coverage. He makes the one nice interception (bit of a floater), but fails to even impress, let alone look like a R1 prospect. I don’t see it.

  21. FWBrodie says:

    I hate him. He’s a track star with a football costume on. Awful instincts, awful tackler, shies away from contact, poor nose for the ball. That’s not a player I want on my defense. I’ll take Leroy Hill with a bad leg out there diagnosing, pursuing hard at the football, hitting and tackling before I waste a first rounder on a kid running around like a chicken with his head cut off. His speed is freakish for a linebacker. In fact he’ll probably make a couple plays a game that others could never make, but there will be 10 others that he misses because he’s just not a natural football player. Taylor Mays comes to mind. Tools to give any scout a hard-on, but just not a football guy. Zach Brown doesn’t get it. No thanks.

  22. FWBrodie says:

    Unless Al Davis’ ghost takes possession of some GM’s body and drafts Zach Brown, I would be shocked to see him picked on day one.

  23. jim J says:

    If we are going to look at linebackers then I would like to see footage on Hightower. (that’s assuming Upshaw is already gone). I have heard he is solid against the run but can’t play pass coverage. is that true? Lets see some film.

    I’m not dissing Brown, I just think that there will be similar size LBs in the later rounds. We need a beast that loves to tackle.

  24. Rob says:

    Derek – I probably prefer Spence over Brown, but I understand teams largely see it the other way around. David is a little overrated for me and Lewis played a lot of DE at Oklahoma and will have to revert to a full-time OLB in the 4-3.

    Michael (CLT) – A lot of teams out there grade Brown a lot higher than that and the combine will mostly confirm their suspicions on his speed. He’s highly rated, whether we agree or not, and draftable in round one.

    As for Brockers – unlikely IMO. Seattle likes the front three it has with Bryant, Branch and Mebane. If Namdukong Suh’s younger brother was there, maybe they’d consider it – but they aren’t going to draft a rotational guy to work within that group. They want an edge rush and will concentrate on edge rushers rather than interior defensive lineman.

  25. andy says:

    “They want an edge rush and will concentrate on edge rushers rather than interior defensive lineman.” I thought a 3-tech that can get interior push/pass rush was high on the “want” list”. Do Brockers and Still not give you that?

  26. Tarry says:

    I share your thoughts on LB being able to be obtained later… I too prefer Spence over Brown even though Spence is a much smaller LB. Good pass rushing DEs are thin in this class at least ones that would fit our 4-3. If Upshaw and Ingram are gone, I still don’t think we go Brown with our pick. I could see us even taking Whitney Mercilus over Brown. The other option I don’t see talked about a lot is Nick Perry, but maybe you can help me out here Rob… I’ve seen he’s projected for more of a 3-4 LB and couldn’t translate it to a 4-3 DE, but why not WILL? Doesn’t he have the speed to be able to take on that position for us? The Pete Carroll connection aside and just going by playing style and ability… could he be a good fit? (obviously not first choice, but maybe over Brown?)

  27. Rob says:

    Andy – As far as I’m aware, DT won’t be a priority target.

  28. Morgan says:

    I definitely get a Curry vibe from Brown, even down to the knack for running headlong into the ball carrier and hoping they will fall down. BUT! I do think he goes in the first round, just late in the round, like Curry should have.

    I also think Audie Cole is a gamer but I see him as a near duplicate of KJ Wright. Not that that’s a bad thing, but neither player is the fastest and I question whether he satisfies Carroll’s stated desire to get faster at the position. (Of course now I’m countering that thought in my head by telling myself that the ability to quickly and correctly diagnose plays needs to be factored into a player’s ‘game speed’, and that by Carroll stating “faster” he probably isn’t just looking at a 40 time. But you know what I mean).

    I would like to see multiple picks devoted to the LB position this year, much like we did with the secondary last year and the year previous. Which makes this as good a time as any to profess my mancrush on SDSU LB Miles Burris. Guy’s got unparallelled tenacity.

  29. Misfit74 says:

    Heh, what timing. I went from reading about the combine schedule to this site…to read about the combine schedule. Love how this site is on the pulse of everything draft.

    I’ve heard Zach Brown mentioned on a few sites as a possibility for the Seahawks. Any LB – at least in round 1 – makes me very nervous. I still think our ability to procure talent in later rounds to fill LB spots should be fully taken advantage of again this year. JS/PC know how to find less-expensive gems in terms of both cap-cost and draft-capital spent as we saw with KJ Wright and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Malcom Smith. Barring an elite pass-rushing threat a la Von Miller/Demarcus Ware, the positional value just isn’t there or the investment is better used elsewhere.

    If we draft a LB in round 1 he’d better be a future Hall Of Famer…and who thought that was a possibility (however remote) with Aaron Curry?

  30. andy says:

    So worst case scenario here…. Upshaw, Coples, Ingram and Richardson are all taken before Hawks pick!!!! And no takers to trade down…… In this scenario they won’t take the 1st or 2nd rated 3 Tech Tackle? Would they really take a receiver here???

  31. Rob says:

    I think it’s an unlikely scenario Andy, but not impossible. In that scenario I think you suddenly see a player like Zach Brown come into play. They maybe aggressively try to trade down with the idea of attacking the second tier edge rushers (Branch, Mercilus, Curry, Jones etc). But receiver is very unlikely. Three technique? As I say, I think as long as they re-sign Bryant they’re very satisfied with what they have at DT.

  32. David says:

    Brown has freakish athletic ability, but lacks great instincts and has way too much trouble getting off blocks. A guy I really like that NO ONE is talking about is Demario Davis from Arkansas State. He just may time with the 2nd fastest forty at the combine behind Brown. When you watch him play, he seems to play as fast as Brown, but also has instincts and ability to get off blocks. He also shows an ability to be an effective pass rusher when asked to blitz as well. He is a guy I think could be snagged in round 4 or later, but as far as grading them out I would grade Davis higher than Brown. I would dare to say the kid has late 1st early 2nd round talent.

  33. Misfit74 says:

    I’m one who wouldn’t have a problem with drafting a WR if the player is BPA or close to BPA on the board at our pick. I don’t know about anyone else, but Michael Floyd opposite Sid Rice with Tate/Baldwin out of the slot (and both in 4-WR sets) looks a lot better than Ben Obomanu or Mike Williams continuing to NOT get it done on the outside. Having two viable #1 WRs is never a bad thing.

  34. Travis says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with picking Floyd in the first round, he is actually my favorite receiver in this draft. Not really impressed with Brown would much rather have spence than him. Rob, if Hawthourne is not re signed do you see Luke Kuechly being an option in the first round.

  35. David says:

    Please no Kuechly. Guy is so overrated it is not even funny. There is no denying his numbers, but majority of his tackles come 5 or 6 yards downfield. He is a guy that will get a lot of tackles every game and his numbers will look phenominal, but you will be left wondering how the opposing team still rushed for 150 on his D. Does not fill the hole at all and is a step late on his reactions.

  36. Colin says:

    I think the Hawks need Upshaw, Couples or Brockers if they are going defense in round 1. There’s no point in taking a rotational DT if he doesn’t have the stuff to be a true stud. If those three aren’t available, it be interesting to see if they could trade farther down in round 1 and pick up another 2nd or 3rd rounder, assuming a Blackmon or Richardson isn’t there.

  37. jim J says:

    Upshaw, Coples or Ingram for DE, second tier Curry or Branch but they may not be there when we pick in the second.

    If your willing to go DT there are a lot of choices including Brockers, Cox or 350 pounds of Dontari Poe. Even though DT isn’t our first need, it still makes sense if you believe that upgrading your entire line will help who ever is left.

  38. […] already discussed the possibility that Zach Brown could be set for a boost after he tests at the combine – Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State) may also surge up boards after he works out on Monday. Cox […]

  39. Rob says:

    Travis – I doubt they would look to fill that need in round one. Kuechly is undersized and may suffer from some of the issues experienced by Lofa Tatupu after a fast start. He’s a leader, he will interest teams. But he’s not going to add a great deal to keep growing Seattle’s defense. I suspect they’ll re-sign Hawthorne after he tests free agency.

    Jim J – I think the problem would be is that the Seahawks wouldn’t see any of those guys as being automatic starters. Poe would have to replace Mebane at the one-tech, and they just re-signed BM. Red Bryant is considered the heart of the defense and is a priority re-signing. They like Branch a lot, and would like to keep using him on early downs and sub in a better pass rusher on third downs. A first round DT would have to be elite and have to upgrade that line in 2012, and I don’t see any of this group being that guy. The Seahawks know they need more edge pressure, they like what this draft offers in that department.

  40. FWBrodie says:

    I agree Rob. There is an empty role on the defense for a DT, but it’s a small, one-down role. It wouldn’t make much sense to burn a round one pick on a DT that either only plays one third down or displaces an already plus player at his position. They should and probably will look for a better pass rushing DT later on in the draft, but it’s lower on the priority list than edge rushers and LB.

  41. Michael (CLT) says:

    Selecting Brown over a top LT or OG would make me sad. If you’re going to settle, draft a QB. Sell some tickets.

  42. Rob says:

    The Seahawks have a LT though… and to a degree an OG. And the objective isn’t to sell tickets, it’s to win football games.

  43. Colin says:

    Rob, do you really see James Carpenter being our RT of the future? I do not think it was a bad pick, but really it looks as though he’ll be more suited to play guard than tackle. I’m willing to give him another year, but he really did not impress in pass protection.

  44. Rob says:

    I think the lockout played some part in that Colin. I actually think he’s got enough talent to eventually develop into a left tackle, but can easily fit on the right. The big concern is the serious injury. They might be best – and this sounds extreme – shutting him down for even the entire 2012 season. He can’t be rushed back from that injury.

  45. diehard82 says:

    Rob, first, love reading your blog, lot’s of original thought. I was thinking the exact same thing regarding Carpenter, and was not at all surprised they locked up Giacomini for 2 years. I was hoping they would.

    Concerning Brown, his lack of instinct, constantly leaving him in the wrong place, combined with poor tackling, makes me hope we pass on him altogether. I don’t care how fast his 40 is, let the Raiders take him too.

  46. Misfit74 says:

    “James Carpenter – T – Seahawks
    The Seahawks have discussed moving RT James Carpenter (ACL surgery) to left guard once he’s healthy.
    The coaching staff was satisfied with Breno Giacomini’s work at right tackle late in the season, and they could add depth via the draft or free agency. Carpenter struggled in pass protection as a rookie, but he has the size and demeanor to fit in as a road-grader at guard.”

    Links:

    http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/6595/james-carpenter

    http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/2012/02/23/schneider-no-deal-yet-with-lynch/#more-12962

    Nice to know a few others and myself aren’t the only ones thinking Carpenter may not stick at RT.

  47. Rob says:

    I’m not really sure what the point of that question was to John Schneider. After all – if he says ‘No – he’s a right tackle’ and then switches, people will perceive the guy as a failure. I still put down his struggles to the lockout, the guy is too good to be written off as a tackle at this stage.

  48. Misfit74 says:

    I think there were legit questions about his ability to get into his pass-blocking set quickly and efficiently. We obviously saw him whipped repeatedly when they threw him into the fire from day 1 (preseaon included). While it may be too early to write him off as a RT, I think there are questions that seem to be at a fundamental level, enough so that it has people, pundits, and perhaps even Seattle FO people wondering if he’ll be the long-term answer there. All that said: offensive linemen don’t always blossom overnight and Carpenter certainly has a chance to play his way back into the RT mix and perhaps even hold it down indefinitely. I think it’s fair to wonder about that, though.