More On Bryce Brown

Posted: May 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 68 Comments »

We’re all fascinated by 7th round pick Bryce Brown, the RB from Tennessee/Kansas State/his parents house.

Amy Domowitch’s dad recently wrote a good column on Bryce and his bizarre situation.

Today Matt Waldman, a draft analyst and good football writer, has a piece up on Brown and his RB skills.

* * * * *

I have yet to dig out a Tennessee tape from 2009 so I can watch him in-depth.  I was able to watch some Bryce Brown highlights on YouTube.

Watch this.

The key to being a good RB is:  1. vision   2. good footwork.

You need vision so that you can read your blocks and also read the defense.  RBs make things look easy when they run and there aren’t defenders in that area.  How many times has a fan yelled “Even I could run through that hole!”?  What so many don’t realize is that the RB has to choose the right gap to run through.

A RB without vision can still get you plenty of 3 and 4 yard runs, but he will struggle to deliver big plays.  Good RBs read the defense and see cutback lanes.  They find creases.  People love to compare football to chess.  Imagine if all the pieces were moving at once and you had to know which space to move to.  You’d need to be able to see where the pieces are and to anticipate where they will be.

As for footwork, this is also critical.  A RB with 4.25 speed is no good if he can’t cut or move laterally.  Same thing for a 250-pound battering ram.  If a RB can only go straight, he will have severe limitations.

You want to see a RB that can move laterally.  That requires footwork and body control.  You want a RB with quick feet.  If he has good moves, but they’re slow, he’s useless in the NFL.

Cutting ability is part of footwork.  A good RB must be able to make good cuts.  Shady McCoy makes great cuts.  He’s special in that regard.  You’d love every RB to do that, but it isn’t realistic.  Think about Correll Buckhalter in 2006-2008.  He was able to cut, but wasn’t anywhere close to dynamic.  That’s the kind of minimum ability a RB should have.

In the video above, Bryce Brown shows both vision and footwork.  That is very, very encouraging.  Some elite high school backs rely on speed or elusiveness to produce great results.  Those guys get to college and struggle when defenders are no longer overwhelmed.  Brown only had 104 college carries, but he did show NFL ability.

I was surprised to see Brown catch the ball so smoothly.  He looked natural at plucking the ball on the move.  I’m sure this is something that Andy Reid loved when he watched Brown’s hit tape.  NFL RBs must be able to run and catch.  They also must be able to block.  I do not know if Brown has much experience at this or can do it.

One of the things I liked most about the Brown video was that he stayed square to the LOS and ran behind his pads.  225-pound RBs are no good when they run sideways (parallel to the LOS).  Brown showed an understanding of this.  When running wide he would turn his shoulders for a second to get where he wanted, but immediately then squared up to the line.  This helps with his vision, but also gives him the chance to run over tacklers.

Some people get confused by the phrase “running behind your pads”.  This refers to a RB using his shoulder pads to take on defenders.  If the RB is turned to the side or if he is upright, his shoulder pads do him no good.  He is easy to tackle.  If a RB gets low and runs straight, his body is behind his shoulder pads and he will generate maximum force when making contact with tacklers.  Think Walter Payton, Earl Campbell.

The goal isn’t to bulldoze every defender, but you want to be able to break tackles.  The worst thing you can say about a RB is that he goes down on first contact.  He’d rather hear you talk about his mom or sister than to have that said.

Brown showed the ability to get behind his pads and knock back tacklers in the video.  He’s not necessarily a power runner, but he seems to understand that he’s 225 pounds and can use his size to his advantage at times.

While that video is fun to watch, remember that it is highlights.  I need to watch games to get a better feel for Brown.  I just haven’t had the time to dig up the tapes and watch them.  Even then, Brown was just a backup RB so I still won’t come away knowing enough about him.  Bryce will be a mystery until we see him at Lehigh in live drills where he’s facing elite competition.

The more I think about the pick, the more I like it.  Brown may struggle on and off the field here and get cut.  That is a very real possibility.  I still think spending a 7th round pick on a mid round talent (at least) was a good gamble.  He isn’t violent.  His former coaches don’t hate him.  He wasn’t kicked out of school.  Brown has some maturity issues to deal with, but he might be a good fit for pro football.  He doesn’t have to worry about going to class.  All he has to do is play football.  Can he do it?


  • Westport_Johnny

    Brown is, after all, the “Asante” pick…. seems like a reasonable crap-shoot in Rnd 7… lets hope he makes something out of nothing.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

      By comparison… selecting Brown with a 7th round pick is lower risk than many of the gambles taken by Asante last season.

      • pjxii

        +1

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Jensen/748307140 Anders Jensen

    The thing I like most was that he didnt dance when he knew he was caught but just used his size to get 2-3 extra yards. Yes dancing RBs can make huge highlights and can be fun to watch, if they dont learn to just hit the open hole, they wont be any good (McCoy did alot of it as a rookie and still does from time to time).

    If Brown or Polk can turn into Buckhalter caliber backup this season, the Eagles are in a good position with its RBs. Also both give the Eagles some size, but neither off them seems to need to get tons of carries like a Tony Hunt needed to.

  • TheRogerPodacter

    amy domowitch’s dad?? what? i’m missing something here…

    • Arby1

      Paul. Philly.com writer

      • TheRogerPodacter

        lol, yea i know that much. but i figured there was a reason for why tommy mentioned it as “amy domowitch’s dad” instead of just “paul domowitch”.

        is she hot or something? a megan fox lookalike? lol

        • TommyLawlor

          No. Just do it for a goof. I don’t know Amy at all.

          You have to entertain yourself with the little things.

          • TheRogerPodacter

            damn. was hoping for some pictures to make my afternoon more entertaining!

          • Donald Kalinowski

            google her name and you can see her twitter pics

  • Arby1

    I’m excited by this guy too. Low risk, high reward. Powerful runner with speed, wiggle. And love the breakdown by Matt Waldman too – maybe we can get him to take over Derek’s job.

    Anyway, I hope he listens to his agent and comes to camp with his head screwed on right.

  • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

    I absolutely love the idea that he could develop into a starting level RB.

    He’s got the athleticism. Lack of experience, sure, but that also means lack of wear and tear. If he is willing to work hard, I could see the 1-2 punch of Shady/Brown being good enough Andy actually considers running the ball more than 40% of the time (before immediately dismissing the idea, of course).

    I wasn’t paying close attention then, but would Shady, (developed) Brown, and Lewis compare favorably to the days of Westbrook, Staley, and Buckhalter?

    • TommyLawlor

      I’ll have to think about that last question. Interesting.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

      Wear and Tear is crucial at the RB position. If Brown can show up with a coachable attitude he may have a legit shot to make the team. I wouldn’t expect to see him on the field until the coaches are comfortable with him in pass pro.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Malone/1235880117 Joe Malone

      To me it sounds like a better version of the Giants Earth, wind, and fire. Something like Brown (Earth/wind), Lewis (wind/wind), and LeSean (Fire/wind/theman). This is what I think about in my spare time

  • Thunder_lips

    Just skimmed the post. So you’re basically saying he’s a cross between Shady, Buckhalter, Payton, and Campbell? Pretty decent value for a 7th rounder.

    • TommyLawlor

      With a dash of Barry Sanders thrown in, of course.

  • http://kaizenity.blogspot.com/ FalKirk

    Brown’s vision is what impressed me most. He really set up his blocks.

    What’s interesting to note is that he makes “diagonal” cuts rather than “horizontal” cuts. People who can make “horizontal” cuts can move closer to the play and set up the blocks more effectively. But that ability is also rare. We’ve been blessed with two of the finest horizontal cutback runners in the league in Westy and Shady so I’ve definitely been spoiled.

    I suspect that some of Brown’s diagonal cuts are because of his speed. You can’t cut horizontally when you’re already moving at 100 mph.

    Boom or bust. Here’s hoping for “BOOM”!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EAJ46KCZMANSM47CY7MWON47XA Jason

    Tommy,
    Is it out of the realm of possibility that Brown and Polk both make the team and beat out Lewis? Or would that be too much risk with two rookies behind Shady even if the talent merited? Could either Brown or Polk make it onto Practice Squad?

    • TommyLawlor

      I find it hard to believe that Brown, Polk, and Lewis will all have good summers. Someone is bound to struggle…with nagging injuries, the playbook, blocking, or some other area. If all 3 do play well…we’ve got a good problem on our hands and I don’t know what we’ll do. My guess is that we’d shop one of the players.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      i’m sure that one of them will have a minor injury and get put on the IR

  • http://twitter.com/SportiVore SportiVore

    If Brown has his personal life/mentality in order, he’ll make this roster easily. He’s a special talent. But if his head isn’t there, the talent won’t matter.

    • TommyLawlor

      Simple, but very accurate take.

  • M0rton

    This guy could be a future Hall of Famer and it wouldn’t matter.

    What this team is lacking is not an elite running back. LeSean McCoy was one of the two best RBs in the league last year and the team went 8-8 and missed the playoffs, while the New York Giants ranked dead last in rushing and won the Super Bowl.

    The running game is almost completely irrelevant in today’s NFL. Bryce Brown and Chris Polk might have all of the talent in the world, and they might emerge as draft “steals” but in the end, it is meaningless if more important positions on the team don’t emerge as elite strengths.

    • TommyLawlor

      That’s a double-wide I’ll have you know.

      So…if I could get a short, quick summary…what are the Eagles missing.

      • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

        I’m not M0rton (I swear), but that’s something I’ve been thinking about.

        For me, they aren’t really missing anything… as far as we know. There’s just questions. We’ve talked about it before, this is a big year for a lot of players (and coaches):

        * Is Vick a starting franchise QB? Will a full offseason and memories of last year turn him into one?
        * Can Castillo be at least a decent DC?
        * Is the O-line actually fixed? Losing Peters hurt, but teams win the SB without a great LT. Are Mathis and Herremans [at RT] really that good? Can Kelce and Watkins improve?
        * What exactly do the Eagles have at WR?
        * What exactly do the Eagles have at CB?
        * All the LBs, DeMeco Ryans included, are questions.
        * All the safeties, Nate Allen included, are too.
        * More generally, are *ANY* of the guys drafted in the past few years worthy of their selection?

        Finally, will a sufficient number of those questions have positive answers?

        • ACViking

          It’s all about the Red Zone, Baby.

          • Arby1

            Now, THAT’s short and concise.

          • Razz_A_Matazz

            I’ll see your Red Zone and raise you a turnover differential. Tied for 31st in the league last year and of course, as we all remember… 1 or 2 of those, may have been in the RZ.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

          Didn’t you read Greg Cosell’s article?

          Clearly the Eagles formula is:
          1. Elite pass rush
          2. Elite running game
          3. Mobile QB to create mismatches in the running game, and buy time to throw the deep ball.
          4. Win just enough games to get into the playoffs
          5. Sustain just enough injuries to justify not winning the SB

          I think we can do that again this year.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Jensen/748307140 Anders Jensen

          * He is already a top tier QB, he only need to cut down on his turnovers from last year
          * For been such a “crappy DC he improved the defense from 21th in pts to 10th
          * yes Mathis and Herremans are actually that good, Mathis was good before he came here and Herremans have been borderline pro bowler the last several years, also Kelce should get stronger and Watkins played really well down the stretch
          * …. is that really a question? Jackson, Maclin and Avant is a really good trio
          * Look at my answer above, NA and DRC is pro bowl CBs
          * Ryans should be fine and an upgrade no matter what, same with Kendricks.
          * . Based on the last 4 games, Allen is not a questionmark
          * yes, no matter how they turn out, outside of maybe Watkins the Eagles hastn really overdrafted anybody.

          Im sorry, but a main part of the questions are reaches to even ask them.

      • A_T_G

        I’m not MOrton either, although I did sleep in a garbage can on Sesame Street last night…

        Personally, I think asking MOrton for a short, quick list of what the Eagles are missing is a little like asking someone who makes derogatory statements about both people in economic hardship and people is rural settings to consider all possibilities with an open mind.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      i cant believe i’m doing this, but i’m going to agree with Morton here….
      (edit: not trying to say anything negative about you M0rton, just that i don’t usually agree with most of your opinions. though i do appreciate the well written posts nonetheless)

      it would be great to keep our running game great into next season and beyond, but i dont look at it like the requirement to a good season for us.
      the #1 priority for me, above all else – defense included, is to cut down the turnovers and mistakes on offense.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AHVR5EZERRCZSD77DMKWAEEPLA Steve H

        You agree that it would be irrelevant for us to pick up a future hall of fame running back with a 7th round pick? My my my, Eagles fans are tough to please but… sheesh.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/5K2OTUH7576XQRGG5VCMKFYTY4 Jason

          Indeed…and the running game might become immediately irrelevant if Shady did his ACL and the other 3 suck. Trying to find a worthy backup in rd 7 is ALWAYS a good idea. One dimensional teams are easier to stop. Yes, everyone knows the Eagles pass a lot, but when they run – it’s often very successfully.

        • TheRogerPodacter

          not irrelevant for us to pick a future player of any quality. i’m simply saying that i think the biggest need for this team to fix is the turnovers on offense. after that, it doesnt matter who’s running the ball! ok, it kinda does, but the #2 or #3 RB isnt as big of a priority to me as the turnovers.

    • iskar36

      Seriously? You are complaining about discussing the potential of a seventh round pick that most people want to know more about considering his strange background? On top of that, your complaint is that RB is an unimportant position based on the Giants last year. Am I missing something? We are talking about a 7th round pick, not using a 2nd or 3rd (or even a 1st round pick, like the Giants used in this years draft).

      Neither Polk or Brown could amount to anything in their career, but they are still interesting players to discuss and it is not like anyone expects these guys to light the league on fire. We are just talking about if this guy can make the team.

    • ultramattman

      I think M0rton is praising the Eagles here – after all, if the RB position is meaningless, then the Eagles were smart not to spend more than a 7th round pick to find one.

      • TommyLawlor

        Should I assume you’re a fan of UltraMan? Loved that show as a kid.

        • Razz_A_Matazz

          Wasn’t it wedged in there somewhere between Space Giants, Speed Racer and The Monkeys on Channel 48? Don’t make TV like that anymore.

    • A_T_G

      I can’t help but recall you saying that you would have drafted a running back with the Curry pick… yesterday.

      I know opinions can change, but yesterday a RB would have been a better choice than a DE in the second round, today a Hall of Famer in the 7th round wouldn’t matter?

    • Midnight_Greenville

      I think the point is that there is nothing irrelevant, and it is refreshing to see them acting that way. In the recent past, they would draft someone like DTN (and reach to do so), because he had potential to improve an area they deemed of paramount importance, while neglecting areas that were of less importance (i.e. linebacker) when good players were available at the same spot.

      This year, their draft was a completely different approach; yes they still selected players on the DL and OL, but none of them were reaches; and when there was value at LB or RB, they went for it. Will Brown be the difference in making the playoffs or a deep playoff run this year? I doubt it. But recognizing that they need to be strong everywhere, and recognizing that you can improve your team more by drafting for value rather than positional hierarchy, may tip the scales in our favor over the course of this season and beyond.

  • JRO91

    Is he beastly enough to handle the NFC east?

  • JRO91

    He runs like Adrian Peterson…not as violent, but looks like him with the quick, subtle cuts

  • Outtenbucks

    Tommy, you are right about his effortless catching of thefootball. But he runs very much like a WR in space and his routes aren’t bad either! I bet this guys lethal on screens.

  • ACViking

    This guy is no Lee Bougess. Or Heath Sherman.

    He’s like a ’68 Tom Woodeshick — with a heavy dash of vintage ’66 Timmy Brown.

    If he can digest even 1/3 of the the 9-inch Eagles playbook, he’s got a shot.

    • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy
    • TommyLawlor

      I just wrote a retrospective piece on the 1992 Eagles recently and talked a bit about Heath Sherman. Boy was he fun to watch that year.

      Siran Stacy was terrific in college. Didn’t work in the pros.

      • Razz_A_Matazz

        Around 4am after every Birds home game that season, I would see Heath, Robert Drummond and Toast Jenkins come sauntering into the Denny’s in Essington. They had a hazy air of, lets say juniper berries, enveloping them. I used to be in heaven listening to them talk about the game. Not details, just stuff like Drummond saying, “on that one kick, I ran right into that big Stevie muthafu… Man, hit me so hard, I thought my guts was gonna fall out!”. Priceless! I always assumed he meant Steve DeOssie.

        I can tell you this Izelle Jenkins had A GUT! Belly hung right over his pants. So did I in those days, come to think of it. I guess that’s what happens when your youth is misspent getting stinkin drunk and hanging out at Denny’s til 5:30AM.

        • Razz_A_Matazz

          Actually, may have been 91 Season. Saw BE there, too. Widest neck I’ve ever seen other than Herschel. He wasn’t with those cats, though. With a lady friend. Nothing says class, like Moons Over My Hammy.

          • TommyLawlor

            Awesome tale. And so true about ladies/Denny’s.

    • Arby1

      OK, Woodeshick and Brown from the ’60’s! Can’t wait for the McDonald and Retzlaff references….

  • ACViking

    T-LAW:

    Notice in the BB hightlight clip the number of times he runs past Dontari Poe (Memphis #74).

    At least once Poe is looking West, while Brown is running South.

    • TommyLawlor

      Ha. Didn’t even think of that. Good catch.

  • ACViking

    One other item on Brown . . .

    The guy can absolutely fly over the pile at the goal line.

    TN runs him out of the I formation against Memphis in the highlight clip

    Brown takes off short of the 2-yard line and lands about 3 yards deep in the EZ.

    • TommyLawlor

      I do like RBs that can go over the top.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        if only stallone was a RB!

  • Donald Kalinowski

    Tommy,
    Who would you rather have- a combination of Dion Lewis/Clay Harbor/Ricky Sapp/Riley Cooper/DTO/Mike Kafka or Sean Lee?

    • TommyLawlor

      I can’t answer that right now. Gotta see how those guys pan out this year.

      I’m a huge Sean Lee fan. He’s better than the group you listed as of now, but that might be different in November.

    • A_T_G

      I’ll take the combination of Dion Lewis, Clay Harbor, Rickey Sapp, Riley Cooper, DTO and Mike Kafka. A quarterback that can be a threat from the running back or tight end position, rush the passer, and have those dreamy, flowing locks? That would be one hell of a player.

    • mheil

      The trade would have looked a lot better from the Eagles standpoint if they had drafted Navaro Bowman or Jimmy Graham in the 3rd round. My point being that it wasn’t the trade back but the pick that was the problem. If they had made a pick in the 2nd round, there is no guarantee it would have been Lee.

  • ultramattman

    I suppose we don’t know the real reasons behind Brown quitting two teams, but it seems like it was over playing time or being the backup. Have to say, if the guy’s response to adversity is to quit, it doesn’t sound like he’ll make it as an NFL 7th round pick. I love the pick and love the gamble, but I’m trying hard not to get my hopes up on Brown.

    • TommyLawlor

      I think he left Tenn when the coach quit and left for USC. Supposedly his father urged him to go to KSU to play with his brother (very good LB). Bryce’s heart wasn’t in it and he quit after spraining an ankle.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AHVR5EZERRCZSD77DMKWAEEPLA Steve H

    Tommy, I’m not really reading anywhere the reasons for him transferring or quitting the team… any info on that?

    • TommyLawlor

      See above.

  • nopain23

    Off topic:
    Hey T
    Do you mind doing a write up on WLB.I think It’s going to be Rolle vs Matthews.With a full offseason and hitting the weight rm with big bro Matthews should win that job.though he failed to show it last year I think he has better instincts and feel for the game.Size also matters and I think Matthews has Rolle by a couple lbs.hope his bro also taught him some pass rush moves….

  • Razz_A_Matazz

    I love the pick, because it’s all upside. Out of all the players taken behind him and the UDFAs, I can’t imagine there is another player I’d have even a spark of excitement about. Everyone here has pretty much covered all of the points, that I would have made about lack of wear and tear, his obvious football skills, etc… So, I’ll just say I’m never gonna give up on a person for a stupid decision they made at 19-20yo. Especially, if it’s non-violent in nature. He’s got miles to go, but he’ll be given every tool he needs to succeed. The Eagles will do a great job as an organization w/ Carmichael and the programs they run. Vick has the presence and willingness to be a positive influence on all these kids. What if they played this perfectly? Going so late may have been the final wake-up call Brown needed. His one last shot and the Eagles are the team that cared enough to give it to him. Can’t remember another 7th rounder with so much potential. AC-Viking- Was there anyone from the 40’s or 50’s that I’m missing? Just beakin em. I really enjoy your posts.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5ULWVNAZIU3FK37Y6TBCZ72H74 EJ

    Bryce Brown is a great football name.