Sydney Brown NFL Draft Scouting Report
SAF, Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois safety Sydney Brown projects as a viable three-down safety at the NFL level. He’s got the transitional quickness and football instincts to consistently fly to the football, which allows him to find success both in the slot and in the deeper portions of the field as a split-field safety. Brown has showcased a highly effective nose for the football whose production in many phases of the position offers enthusiasm that he can align and win in a slew of phases at the next level.
Originally a three-star recruit, Brown hails from London, Ontario, Canada. Brown has a twin brother, Chase, who is a successful running back prospect also at Illinois. The Brown twins’ father, Darren, played three seasons in the CFL, helping to build a clear eye and feel for the game. Brown transferred to St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Florida and was a successful high school football player and a dynamic track athlete. Brown finished as a Florida state finalist in the 400m, 4x400m, and 4x100m during his senior year. That track background is apparent on film, as Brown is a rangy and competitive player.
Brown’s first-step suddenness, closing burst, and rally to the football are important variables that serve as cornerstones of his play. The Illini have moved him all over the field; he’s dropped low to play subpackage linebacker and fit the run, he’ll push out and play deep safety, and he’s matched tight ends in the slot. The versatility is here to build upon for Brown and he should be considered someone who does not have a lot of limitations from a functional athleticism standpoint. But he’s not a flawless player from a profile perspective. His tackle radius appears to be limited and that impacts his effort as an open-field tackler. He needs to continue to lean on that dynamic athletic ability to flash and mirror in order to finish plays. He’s shown good pop as a tackler, but when challenging backs in the hole, he’s been bested on tape too many times to ignore. Yet, Brown has good football instincts and is sudden to react to diagnosing plays—he often gets a quick jump on his rally to the ball as compared to his teammates as a comparison for reactive diagnosis. Brown has flashed some successful ball skills as well, attacking the hands of receivers and adjusting to several throws laid up into his area when he was afforded the opportunity to attack the football in flight. His floor is a core special teams player who plays in subpackage roles but I do think he’s a finisher on defense. He’s a five-year starter who serves as a true leader of the team and should be a positive addition to any locker room that welcomes him this upcoming offseason.
Brown has all the makings of an NFL defensive back and his fit will likely vary from team to team. I think there’s enough variety in his role to appeal to all comers and as a result, he very well may go earlier than expected in the NFL Draft. I do think you’re drafting Brown for a three-down role in the NFL, but you’ll need to ensure you’re asking him to play to his strengths and be willing to move him around.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- Well-constructed athlete with effective functional athleticism
- High-end versatility
- Instinctive player with quick reactive quickness
Top Reasons For Concern:
- Stature to play man coverage with tight ends
- Head up tackling consistency in the hole
- Anatomical length impacts his tackle radius
Size (NFL Combine):
Height: 5′ 10”
Weight: 211 lbs
Arm Length: 31 1/2”
Hand Size: 10 1/4”
Athletic Testing (NFL Combine):
40-yard Dash: 4.47s
Vertical Jump: 40.5”
Broad Jump: 10′ 10”
Bench Reps: 23 reps
Ideal Role: Subpackage safety and chess piece
Scheme Fit: Multiple
TDN Consensus Grade: 82.50/100 (Second-Round Value)
- Crabbs Grade: 82.50/100
Written By: Kyle Crabbs
Exposures: Indiana (2022), Virginia (2022), Iowa (2022), Purdue (2022), Michigan (2022)
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