Detroit Lions draft target: Offensive tackle Orlando Brown

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Orlando Brown
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Orlando Brown /

Offensive Tackle Orlando Brown jr. had the worst combine workout in recent memory. At some point though, his game tape will outweigh that two-day nightmare.

Do the Detroit Lions need an offensive tackle? Yes, they do. Hear me out on this one because it does take more explaining than a pass rusher or guard. It is not linear algebra, I’m not inventing vector spaces, it just involves looking past this season.

The Lions list of free agents from the current roster that will be free agents in 2019 is huge. Swing tackle Corey Robinson is on that list. Robinson has put some respectable tape out. Chances are some team is going to give him some decent money. Not starting left tackle money or anything crazy like that, but he will get a better paycheck than the $720k he is making in 2018. The Lions should not be that team to give it to him. They have Ziggy Ansah and Golden Tate on their list of 2019 free agents, and only about $48 million dollars of cap space. The Lions should draft Robinson’s replacement at some point in the third round or later.

Orlando Brown had the worst combine workout I have ever seen. In two days he went from the consensus best left tackle in the draft to a third-round pick. He ran the worst 40 time of any player in this draft class. His 14 bench reps would be questionable from a wide receiver who weighed 165 lbs. Brown weighed in at 345 lbs. The thing is that on the field Orlando Brown is still the best offensive tackle in this class. You can make arguments for other players, but before that combine workout, almost nobody was.

Brown is not one of these high school basketball players that washed out and had to try something else. Brown weighed 450 lbs as a high school freshman. You don’t lose 105 lbs by being lazy, which was immediately the assumption a lot of people had about him. If Brown was an inherently lazy person he would not even be involved in the draft conversation.

On tape, Brown does have flaws. He’s got a lightning quick first step but doesn’t accelerate much in steps two and three. He does lean on the man he’s blocking a lot as well. An NFL caliber speed rusher who can also play with leverage will give him fits. He bends at the waist and extends his arms fully before contact in his punch hits home sometimes.

The upside is there too. Brown clearly studies tape. He knows a blitz is coming before the ball has been snapped incredibly often. His tape shows him rag dolling defensive ends, and literally throwing linebackers and defensive backs to the ground like they were Hobbits. His freakishly long arms let him get into other players chest plates on running plays every time, and he knows how to use his length to create leverage rather than lose it because of his height.

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The truth of what Orlando brown is likely sits somewhere between his dominant college performance and his horrendous combine workout. He is a very good football player, but he’ll never make it to the Cross-fit Games. The Lions brought Brown in for a private workout, very likely to make that assessment for themselves. There is a certain point in the draft where Brown’s tape is going to matter more than his workout. I would be delighted if some time on day three, Brown became a Detroit Lion.