Some thoughts on Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown

In my last mock draft, I had Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State) going to the Seahawks. He’s a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who will clock a time in the 4.4’s or 4.5’s at the combine. And I think he’s ideal for the teams WILL position.

This isn’t taking anything away from Malcolm Smith, who might be on his way to winning the gig on a permanent basis. He’s looked very accomplished in two starts so far and he also has 4.4 speed and great familiarity with the system. He’s one of the few ex-USC guys to be drafted by Pete Carroll and clearly they believe he has a future on the team. His touchdown on special teams against Arizona was just reward for his efforts spelling the injured Leroy Hill.

However, unless he keeps the job for the rest of the year and continues to shine (Hill could return against Buffalo), I think we have to look at this position as an area where the team might spend an early draft pick next April.

I’m not afraid to admit I’m still learning what Carroll’s team is trying to do on both sides of the ball. I’ve looked closer than ever before this year, because I didn’t like how we handled the draft last season. We spent a lot of time trying to piece a pass rusher into the existing defense – and we were right to focus on that position as it turns out. However, we were looking at turning a DE or rush LB into a SAM and moving K.J. Wright inside. And that was clearly never the idea. In hindsight it makes perfect sense that they actually looked to replace Raheem Brock. We were maybe distracted by the specialist nature of that role, yet there was a stand-out ‘specialist’ available in the 2012 draft. If we’d worked this out last season, we might’ve been able to spend more time on Bruce Irvin after pumping his tires at the start of the year.

I need to highlight and learn from mistakes to make this a better blog. That was a big one.

I’ve watched the defense and attempted to understand the 4-3 under concepts a little better this year. It’s why I think upgrading the three technique is a big priority. It’s why I think they can get better at the WILL too. Alan Branch ticks two of the boxes required for his role at the three – he eats space, he can take on interior lineman and he plays well against the run. However, he doesn’t offer much penetration or pass rush. Until the Seahawks get pressure inside at that position, their base defense will struggle to have an impact when they only rush four. Which is most of the time.

Greater pressure from the three technique and therefore an improved overall pass rush ultimately means you can keep the linebackers in playmaking positions and you’ll get more out of the LEO concept. Red Bryant’s role in the team is still underrated. The Seahawks need size at the five technique to compensate for doubling up on the opposite side. A lot of the time Bryant has to take on two blockers (right guard/tackle). The fact the Seahawks aren’t dominated on the right side when the opposition runs the ball is credit to Bryant. In fact, teams try and avoid him. Brandon Mebane plays over the center. This puts you in a position to orchestrate 1v1 match-ups for the three and the LEO. It should be very hard to defend on that side, but you need that interior push to collapse the pocket. That’s when the speed off the edge will hurt an offense. Finding someone to collapse the pocket should be a priority for this team. If Miami’s Randy Starks reaches free agency and the price is affordable, he would be ideal for this role.

The Seahawks have upgraded two of the three linebacker positions to the scheme Carroll wants to run. K.J. Wright helps set the edge as the SAM, keeps contain and he can drop. Bobby Wagner is already showing just how adept he is to reading situations, flowing to the football and making plays. It’s no surprise that as the season’s progressed, he’s started to make more impact plays.

Carroll inherited Leroy Hill and he’s done a good job in the last three years. It’s easy to forget he was #2 for sacks last season – a testament to the lack of pass rush given he wasn’t asked to do a lot of rushing. He’s a good enough athlete to manage the WILL in this scheme but he’s not quite as explosive these days. There have been a few times when he’s located the ball and been first to make a key play. Ultimately though, it’s an area where the Seahawks can get faster with greater impact.

This is where Brown comes into play.

The video above shows a game from 2011 when Kansas State beat Robert Griffin III’s Baylor in the Big-12. By now you’re aware of RGIII elusive nature and his athleticism. I’d recommend watching the video to see how Brown matches up.

Kansas State’s defense has some similarities to Seattle’s. They have a lot of 4-3 under looks with a front four, a SAM at the LOS and two inside linebackers. Brown is the heart of the defense and appears to make a lot of calls. Bobby Wagner has nailed the MIKE position with his play this year, but it wouldn’t be much of an ask to switch Brown to the WILL. He’s got the speed. He’s got the field IQ. And he reacts quickly to swarm to the ball carrier.

Seattle’s defense isn’t asking the MIKE or WILL to rush the passer. They aren’t asking much of the SAM in that sense either. They want to create pressure with four rushers more often than not. My theory is it’s part of Pete Carroll’s determination to create turnovers. Whenever you can press with just four lineman, you’re going to have success. You’ve got more guys in coverage and your linebackers can read the situation, whether it’s reaching for a tipped pass, undercutting a route, reading a quarterback’s eyes or blowing up a run.

As much as I like Alec Ogletree’s athleticism and upside, Brown may be an equally good fit for this scheme. As a pure roamer, he’s top-notch. He’s busier, reading a play every second of the way and using instinct. He cuts through traffic well, avoiding blocks and closing quickly. For a guy who’s only 6-0 and around 225-230lbs, he takes on blockers well against the run. And like Ogletree, he’s got that sheer speed to run from sideline-to-sideline to make a play.

The Seahawks have had issues in some games defending third down. Brown can sniff out underneath routes by tracking running backs, but he’s also very good at floating at the second level and then reacting. Seattle has taken Leroy Hill off the field on a lot of third downs to play nickel, but with Brown on the roster I’d be tempted to keep him in either in a base look or instead of K.J. Wright. He’d be that much of an asset.

He does have some issues. At his size he’ll get engulfed sometimes against bigger lineman. You have to expect that. But then the Seahawks aren’t asking their linebackers to get too involved at the LOS. Can he cover a big tight end? We’ll see about that. He can get overly aggressive and make slight errors (missed tackles, overshooting his angle). There are times when – like a lot of college defenders these days – he goes for the glancing blow rather than the wrap-up tackle. Apart from that, I don’t see much to complain about.

In fact the biggest concern I have has nothing to do with on-the-field tape. It’s his shy nature. His back-story is fairly interesting. He started his college career at Miami as a big-time recruit. All the top schools wanted him, including Pete Carroll, Ken Norton Jr and USC. Carroll apparently told a representative of the Brown family that he was the best linebacker “he’d seen in seven years.” Brown chose the ‘Canes, seemingly due to their reputation as Linebacker-U. It never worked out, he struggled on the field and was on the brink of being labelled a bust.

Yet most of all, it seems being away from his family was the hardest obstacle to manoeuvre. They’re a close unit. His parents lost their first child before the age of 2. Brown and his brother Bryce (now a starting running back in Philadelphia) were seen as ‘miracles’. So much so, the elder brother was named after his father. Arthur Brown Junior. That’s his full name. Yet it took until his senior year to raise the possibility of having ‘Jr’ added to his jersey at Kansas State.

Kellis Robinett quotes Brown discussing the matter…

That made me so happy,” Brown said. “I have always wanted to play with my full name on my jersey. It’s a great way to honor my father and my whole family. But, for whatever reason, I never asked. I was afraid they would say no. I guess I just feel at home here. It turned out to be a really simple thing.”

A family man. But unusually lacking in confidence for such a talented athlete.

Kevin Haskin suggests it also played a part in why he never settled in Miami…

The desire to be closer to home certainly factored into Brown’s transfer to K-State.

“Coming out of high school I really didn’t know the value of family and staying connected to your life support,’’ Brown said. “Just those two years away helped me develop an appreciation for my family.’’

Nobody will mark this down as a major negative in terms of his character. However, I am a little concerned that being so far away from his family could be an issue. Seattle is a long way away. Both he and brother Bryce transferred from colleges (Miami/Tennessee) to move ‘back home’ and join Kansas State. Being able to adapt, remain focused and perform to the best of your abilities is crucial. Will Brown get homesick? It’s not something we can get enough information on to call a negative. But it is something I’d be looking into as a member of a personal department.

Pete Carroll will already know a lot about this guy, an edge he’s been able to exploit with a few players coming into the league already. And he may already know just how much of an issue this is (or isn’t). But I wanted to note it nonetheless. Having played at Kansas State, there aren’t many places further away than Seattle.

Assuming this isn’t a problem, Brown could be a tremendous addition to this defense. Some teams will be put off by his size. Not a lot of other blogs or pundits are talking about him as a first or even a second round pick. Yet we know Pete Carroll doesn’t care much for what other people think. He liked this guy coming into the college ranks. He might be checking him out again in the off-season and he could be on this teams radar.


  1. adog

    Linebacker needs depth for the Seahawks, yet i’m not sure they need to spend anything above a 5th round on a clone of Malcom Smith. I would give Smith the edge over Brown as far as efficiency at the WILL position. Ogletree is dynamic…a turnover maker…so i could see Carroll\JS targeting him in the first round perhaps. I think at the WILL, they want a solid run defender more than anything in their scheme(right now). Not sure that an undersized LB like Brown would fit there. It is maybe the most simple of jobs in Carroll’s scheme besides the LEO, and not one i expect them to fill with a high draft pick. I think at some point in the evolution of his scheme, Carrol will want to have a LB at the WILL who is a hybrid type of run defender and hand on the ground rusher…similar to C. Matthews at GB and USC. Not sure if this defense is good enough yet to let a linebacker play without any responsibility in the scheme besides ball hawking.

    • Rob Staton

      That’s not how I see them using the WILL when I watch the games. The WILL is playing almost exclusively at the second level, reading and reacting. It’s not a position they’re using to rush at all. And as I’ve looked more into the 4-3 under, that’s really how the role is supposed to be. It’s not a rush position. It’s very much read, react, cover. Pressure from the front four to allow your LB’s to make plays. And it’s within that system that I think Brown will excel.

      • Snoop Dogg

        Do you think Arthur Brown can replicate or exceed the season Bobby Wagner is having? Other wise, I think adog has a point. I am content with Malcolm Smith.

        • Rob Staton

          The fact Leroy Hill is coming back in immediately for the Buffalo game makes me wonder if they merely Smith as excellent depth with ST value. Can he replicate Wagner? Sure.

      • Phil

        Brown may not be the athlete that Ogletree is, but he’s much more instinctual at LB. On the tape, he seems to miss a lot of tackles (early in the game), but he sure turned it on in the second half. Regarding being away from his family, with the $$ he’s going to make in the NFL, he can afford to move them to Seattle if he wants to.

        Rob – on a totally different issue. How about giving us a listing of which players we should watch in the upcoming college bowl games? I can remember the big names, but it would be helpful if a list could be put together.

        I happened to watch Valdosta State play in the NCAA Division II semis (the finals are today). They have a trio of wide receivers that are really impressive — all are juniors so I don’t know if any intend to enter the draft. You might want to check out Gerald Ford (not related to Mr. President) — 6’3″ 220#, 68 catches this year; Seantavious Jones — 6’4″ 193#, 49 catches; and, Regginald Lewis — 6’2″ 186#, 52 catches.

  2. Turp

    Are we going to lose this advantage at some point when there are no guys in draft that have been previously recruited by PC? 🙂

    • Rob Staton

      Sure, absolutely. Pete has a unique situation, even more unique than a lot of other former college coaches. He was coaching at USC, the powerhouse team. Most of the top recruits considered the Trojans, so PC will do all the background checks, find out the info, get to know these guys. And if they deliver on that potential or if they have a skill-set that fits, Carroll will know it. Big edge for the Seahawks that other ex-college coaches don’t have quite as much. And eventually that advantage will end, possibly after this year.

      • Turp

        Thanks Rob, answered my next question – does that end after this year…

        • Michael

          While I agree that there will be diminishing returns year after year, I also think there will be some residual effects for several more years based on the number of contacts he has that are still coaching/scouting/recruiting in the college game.

      • Phil

        Think of the advantage that he has over NFL coaches who have moved up the ranks in the NFL (e.g., from offensive coordinators, etc. ) and haven’t had exposure to the players in the college ranks, or haven’t had to do recruiting (watching tape for hours). I’m beginning to think that his real skill is in evaluating talent and motivating players to give their best — not in game planning or the traditional Xs and Os.

        Too bad that Harbaugh has this experience, too.

  3. Jared

    Good article, thanks for the info. I kind of agree with what ADOG is saying. THis guy is basically Malcolm Smith in terms of size and athleticism. Smith has the edge in terms of the scheme and is actually playing this year. I don’t know if he’s would be that much of an upgrade to justify a 1st round pick. Furthermore, I could see a situation where Korey Toomer vies for playing time at WILL this year. He’s also very athletic and is currently on the practice injured list. So I could see him with a year under his belt really showing his skills. AT IDAHO he transferred from a JC to Idaho after signing with ID as a freshmen. His first year there as a JR he was relagated to special teams duty. He was then injured for 2010 and then with 2 years in the system he became a stud playmaking Lber. I think given some time Toomer could be a very effective player for Seattle.
    With this Rice injury to me the WR corps is looking like the most obvious need to me. When your down to Charly Martin and Jermaine Kerse as your #4, #5 WR’s that’s concerning.

    • Rob Staton

      I would tend to agree on the receiver situation. The lack of depth is alarming. Big time. And it’s a situation that must be addressed.

  4. Michael

    Great speed and a nice game all around. I loved the hit he put on RG3 on that option play; no hesitation whatsoever. Size would be my only real concern.

    Like most players we’ve looked at so far on this site, he would be a dynamite pick if he could be had in the 2nd, but I am only lukewarm about taking him in the 1st. I just keep thinking (and hoping) that someone they didn’t think would be there is gonna fall into their laps and the sheer value of the pick will force their hand. If that turns out not to be the case, I think I would rather see a trade down that would give us multiple picks in the 35-50 range (best value in this draft IMO), along with some later round stuff for PC/JS to work their magic with.

    • Senepol

      I think a large part of the “lukewarm about X in the first” comes from somewhat misplaced expectations. We’re all used to the Seahawks drafting in the top half of round 1, so its natural for folks to think “1st round = top 15 player, top 10 slipping” but in reality, we should be expecting a pick in the mid 20s and thinking “top 25 player, 20 top slipping”.

      Most of the players people would be excited about taking in the first will be long gone by the time the hawks pick this year, we’d be well served to adjust our expectations of what a 1st/2nd rounder is accordingly.

      • Rob Staton

        Exactly right.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        Very valid point. I have this conversation all the time with people that panned the Carpenter pick. Outside of injury though, if you look at the peer selections in his range or later, I can’t say we didn’t get the best prospect for that need.

        Not all first round picks are created equal. It’s like trying to tell people that just because we need a 3 tech, don’t hold out hope for Star Lotulelei. He’s not ‘available’ where we are picking.

        Other than a Brandon Coleman, I can’t see anyone in this draft worth trading the kind of stock it would take to move up into the top 8 or really even the top 15. It’ll be tough to see a Chance Warmack going to the Rams — I’m not going to lie about that one. But I’d much rather be in our position than theirs. They aren’t a Warmack away from contending.

        If we’re looking at 3, it’s probably between Hankins, J Williams and S Williams. Assuming one or two of these could be gone by then. It may well be, that we end up having to get a development guy later. It does look like there is a strong possibility of a Randall Cobb/Greg Jennings type prospect available in round 2. Kind of makes me think we might move back a shade and start there if Coleman doesn’t declare.

        • Rob Staton

          I’m not crazy about Jesse Williams as a three… He looks more like a pure five for the 3-4. I think SEA considers him only if they see real untapped potential to do a better job as a pass rush. But I do think 3-4 end will be judgedas his best role. Hankins is a nose tackle or a one for me – I can’t see him working out as a three tech. Sly Williams would be the most likely R1 option. I’m not convinced there’s a round one solution for Seattle this year, which is why I’m keen to put forward Randy Starks as a free agent option.

  5. Clayton

    How does Arthur Brown compare to CJ Mosley? I noticed that you had Mosley going in the second round in your mock draft.

    • Rob Staton

      I like Mosley a lot and he also fits. He’s not quite as intense as Brown, he doesn’t make as many ‘solid’ plays. He won’t be quite the all-round type. What you’re going to get from Mosley over Brown is a greater number of turnovers. He’ll probably have more picks in his career, but Brown – for me – is more likely to have the superior all-round game.

  6. Michael

    Rob, Off topic here but what are your thoughts on Stedman Bailey (WR, WVU)? A very quick look had him passing the eye test for me with good speed and athleticism, and as a pass catcher he actually out-performed Tavon Austin this season in yardage as well as scores with an NCAA leading 23 TD’s! (ya I know it’s WVU but still…) Not a big guy, but to my knowledge has not missed a single game due to injury in his career.

    If we pass on taking a first round receiver (a move I am in favor of outside of Brandon Coleman) and there is an early second round run on the Wheatons, Hopkins’ and Woods’ of the world eliminating them as options, could Bailey be an option for the ‘Hawks in round 3 or 4?

    • Rob Staton

      That is the range I’d place Bailey. Like you say, not great size. He does all the little things right and he’s consistent. I kind of have a similar feeling with him as I did with Golden Tate. Great production in college, but I watch the tape and I think – there’s nothing wrong per se, but I’m not convinced he can be a really dynamic player. Then Tate ran something like a 4.3 at the combine and you go back and re-evaluate. If Bailey similarly impresses, then he could have a bit of a jump up the boards. I like him as a middle round option if other receivers leave the board early. Worth noting he has tremendous chemistry with Geno Smith – I think they went to HS together.

      • Michael

        Thanks! Didn’t know that about him and Smith, but it makes a lot of sense as he seemed to be the guy Geno was looking for on crucial downs.

  7. AlaskaHawk

    I enjoyed the commentary last night about Vontaze Burfict. He came out of Arizona State and was labeled as a person with attitude problems that made him slip in the draft to the ??? round, heh heh heh.. He was undrafted. So they said that the Bengals put him on a diet and conditioning program during preseason, and he lost 20 pounds and has been playing great.

    He has 59 solo tackles for the season, and 42 assists, for 101 total tackles. I guess you don’t need to have a high round draft pick to find a gem. PC where were you???

    • Rob Staton

      True story. Vontaze’s agent bet me a coke last season he’d be a first round pick.

      As for where was PC – it’s worth noting his history with Burfict. Player committed to USC. School then realised he had ‘issues’ and retracted the offer. He ends up at Arizona State where issues emerge. Very talented player but needs to realise he’s going to waste that talent if he doesn’t knuckle down. His combine performance was laughable. Good to see he’s having a decent first year, but let’s review this situation in a year.

      • Kenny Sloth

        He sure looks good as an UDFA, though. Bet you never got that coke…

      • AlaskaHawk

        Great story Rob,
        I’m trying to remember what his issues were. I know he got penalties for being too aggressive. Did he have mental issues with the game? Was he even playing in the last few games at Arizona State?

        This is a cautionary tale for those that want the Honey Badger. Good fight and effort, but mental problems, hasn’t played this year, and he is too small to last long at the pro level. He has a 50/50 chance of being 6-7 round draft, or UDFA. I doubt he will even be invited to the combine so he will have to travel to team try outs.

  8. Kenny Sloth

    Would the Seahawks take Warmack or Cooper if they fell to them in the first or potentially even the second? Maybe move them to RT? They both have the athleticism for it. Or Dallas Thomas in the second or third? He’d be a total PC/JS pick.

    • Rob Staton

      I highly doubt Warmack and Cooper would fall. I’d also argue Warmack is a pure guard, but Cooper is athletic enough to play left tackle. I wouldn’t move him to right tackle though. And I think Dallas Thomas will be a R1 pick.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        I think Thomas should be a rd 1 pick. I do think it’s very dicey though and he has the look of a guy that will slip. Not necessarily on lack of talent. But just that it’ll come down to teams needs at that point. And as in most drafts, by the late first round you typically see a run on talent at a position that leads to teams taking guys perhaps a bit earlier because teams fear they won’t have much available the next time their selections come due. I expect DT and DE will be those positions and teams that have both OL and DL needs will end up responding to how the draft unfolds.

  9. Kenny Sloth

    You think Bacarri Rambo will go late? Like fifth or sixth? Looks like he might be at least some semblance of insurance for ET.

    • Rob Staton

      Second or third round for me.

  10. Kip Earlywine

    “Carroll apparently told a representative of the Brown family that he was the best linebacker “he’d seen in seven years.”

    Well then, now that we know who Seattle is drafting in round 1, it might be time to start focusing on round 2 options. I’m not a huge fan of Brown, but seemingly every time Pete has badly coveted a player from his Pac-12 days he’s gone out and gotten him (among them Sherman, Lynch, and Irvin).

    • Snoop Dogg

      Just a plasible scenario question for Rob:

      If we drafted Arthur Brown and replaced KJ Wright instead of Malcolm, do you think this would be Pete’s ultimate dream scenario? I think he has built this scheme to have all of the linebackers run a 4.4 and be insanely fast.
      Could this happen?

      • Rob Staton

        Possibly… but they seem to like K.J. And Smith has been replaced by Leroy Hill in the line-up.

  11. Stuart

    With Malcom Smith and Korey Tomer, I am not sure drafting a WS LB in R-1 will happen. I am surprised that Hill will be back in at starter against Buffalo. Smith seemed to be doing a great job…Does Matthews of GB play WS LB? He is one of the most ferotious rushing LB’s I have ever seen. In that game against us he could not be stopped even with two guys on him…

    Just a thought, is it likely PC will ever gets a player that is 80% as good as Matthews and will let him rush the QB? Matthews is a game changer!

    Jared made an excellent point about our WR depth. We dont need just one, we need three. Two for game days and one for the practice squad. Rice has been healthy all season (knock on wood) but is a hit away from missing time.

    To me this teams biggest needs are WR, D-line and O-line. Does any one know the contract status of DT Starks of Miami? How awesome would that be to fill a huge need before the draft:). As much as I personal value first round picks, PC/JS find players in all rounds.

    Suppose the player PC/JS really want in R-1 is already gone by our pick and they decide to trade out of the first round entirely to a QB needy team, what is that R-1 pick worth? Perhaps a 2nd and 3rd provided they were at least in the top 15 of each round?

    • Rob Staton

      Matthews is a rush linebacker in GB. It’s important to stress here that Seattle isn’t asking the WILL to rush much at all. They’re not even asking the SAM to do much more than help set the edge and drop. It’s purely a front four rush most of the time to let the linebackers make plays. So we don’t really need to look at pass rushing linebackers.

      As for trading out of the first round… Tampa Bay traded up into the late first with Denver dropping into the second. The deal? Both teams swapped fourth rounders. Not a great deal.

      • Phil

        Rob – I don’t recall any discussion about picking up Richard Seymour in free agency. I know he’s getting long-in-the-tooth, but the guys been to the pro bowl as a DE and as a DT. Maybe he could teach some of our big boys a few tricks. Probably going to be asking too much $$$ for what we would receive.

        • Rob Staton

          He’s a possible option if they want to go the FA route. Like you say though, perhaps past his effective best. Randy Starks is the one I’m focusing on really – he’d be a superb pick-up for me.

          • Snoop Dogg

            Isn’t Randy Starks around 34 years old?

            • Phil

              Just turned 29 two days ago.

  12. Richard Vert

    Ya he’s got skills but Seattle needs to make WR their priority this draft. Tate, Rice, and Baldwin are great but after them there’s nothing at all. An injury or two and the season could be over for them.

    • AlaskaHawk

      I want two new wide receivers in the draft. I think we need to do that for a few years to get our receiving corp built up.

      If the worst happened and we lost our current wide receivers, we could use Turbin as a wide out. He has good hands. I don’t think the transition would be hard for him.

      • Snoop Dogg

        I would love to see this!

      • Phil

        Just watched the tape of the first 49er game. Turbin juggled and then dropped a sure TD pass that might have won the game for us. I remember another big drop, too, but don’t remember the game.

  13. Colin

    If Seattle wants a weakside linebacker, lets not screw around. Get Alec Ogletree. Brown is a bit of a thumper, but when you see Ogletree’s speed and visciousness put together…. my god. Everyone else seems inferior.

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