April 2012 only saw one player from K-State find a home through the NFL draft – and even that was a stretch, as Bryce Brown saw little playing time and quit the team his first year after transferring to Manhattan before conference play started. 2013 should be a much more profitable year for departing Wildcat players. Over the next two weeks, Jug of Snyder will be assessing the players entering 2012 with draft hopes and how they finished their careers with K-State. We start our analysis with the team’s most surefire pick, Arthur Brown.
LB Arthur Brown entered his senior season as an expected top 75 pick and solidified his appeal the entire season. Brown often played in a 4-2-5 defensive scheme against the Big 12’s pass-happy teams, expected to provide single coverage against receivers and stop running backs without the help of an additional linebacker on the field. He did both, and has solidly moved into second round status for the upcoming draft.
Mel Kiper has listed Brown as the number four senior outside linebacker for this year, which carries a lot of weight in a 2013 class loaded with defensive talent. While he plays with unparalleled speed at his position, the biggest knock on Brown is a lack of size (230 lbs). Additionally, Brown rarely had to demonstrate an ability to fight off blockers coming into the second level, as he played behind a defensive line that demanded an offense’s full attention with its four-man rush. He will have an opportunity to demonstrate his talents while playing amongst the best at the NCAA level later this month at the Senior Bowl.
Brown has the intangible qualities that teams love, with a good head on his shoulders and strong demonstration of leadership. He’s also developed a penchant for coming up with a big play when his team needs it most – a talent none more evident than during last year’s comeback win against Baylor. With the Bears ahead late in the fourth quarter and driving downfield, Arthur Brown picked off Robert Griffin III for Griffin’s first interception of the year. The change in possession gave K-State the ball for a go-ahead touchdown drive in a game that likely would have otherwise been lost by the Wildcats. This year Brown ended Geno Smith’s then record number of consecutive passes without an interception.
Jan. 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Kenjon Barner (24) is tackled by Kansas State Wildcats linebacker Arthur Brown (4) during the first half during the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Additionally, Arthur Brown’s tangible record leaves NFL defensive coordinators giddy. A year after recording 101 tackles, he led the Wildcats in tackles a second straight year with 91 in the regular season. He also provided 6 tackles for a loss, one sack, and two interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown) in his 2012 campaign. Brown’s sack total could have easily reached double digits if K-State’s coaches chose to utilize him as a pass-rusher, but the push from the front four rarely made this necessary. And although the knocks on his lack of bulk may have merited greater concern in pass decades, it’s the offenses of New England and Green Bay that now rule the NFL. These teams play fast like Oregon, and rangy defenders will only become more important as the trend continues in the coming years.
Speaking of Oregon, the Fiesta Bowl matchup did nothing to damage Brown’s draft stock on January 3. Lost amid the 18 point loss was that the Wildcats only gave up four offensive touchdowns – the second fewest on the year for the Ducks. Brown was one of several defenders constantly disrupting plays in the backfield, as Oregon found much success in spurts but never found a true rhythm. Brown was never caught missing a tackle on Oregon’s speedy running backs. He finished the game with nine tackles, leaving him at 100 on the season. That marks the first time in ten years (Josh Buhl during 2002 and 2003) that a K-State player recorded 100 or more tackles in two consecutive seasons. Maybe that’s why SB Nation’s mock draft has Brown going to Cincinnati as the #21 pick in the first round of this year’s draft.