In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Ravens traded up to grab the young LB prospect out of Kansas State. Brown had lofty expectations already, as the legendary Ray Lewis had just retired, and it was his position to fill. Brown had drawn comparisons to Ray in college and attended 'The U' for two seasons, so needless to say, the bar was set high. Yet Brown has almost been a 'ghost', so to speak, as he's rarely seen the field. Can he overcome his naysayers?
I'm sure by now most of you know the story of Arthur Brown's career so far, and that's because, quite simply, there isn't much to it. Brown, now in his third year, has spent most of his time in Baltimore being simply outshadowed by the excellent play of his peers. In his rookie season, Brown had a chance to break through and crack the starting lineup. Yet he failed to impress, and rode the pine behind starters Daryl Smith and Josh Bynes. That year, he played a total of 14 games, and got 15 tackles, 11 of which were solo, and 0.5 sacks, while missing two games with a chest injury.
The following year wasn't much better either. Brown only played in a mere four games despite being fully healthy. With Baltimore yielding one of the best LB corps in the league, and both Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley turning in Top-10 performances and staying healthy, there weren't many opportunities for Brown. He also couldn't find the field as a special teamer either, as Zach Orr and Albert McClellan excelled there. Things weren't looking good for Brown, and the dreaded 'b' (bust) word was being thrown around, a rarity in Baltimore.
Fast forward to this offseason, many have thrown around the possibility of him being traded, and at a first glance, it makes sense. The Ravens could easily shop Brown for a 5th or so round pick, or even trade for a veteran to a team in need of linebackers. But does it make sense to give up on a prospect so early? I'm not so sure. I think people have been awfully hard on Brown, he's only had two seasons in the league, and extremely limited opportunities. Not to mention, some of the best linebackers in the league ahead of him on the depth chart. Most rookies simply don't come in and produce on Day 1, no matter how high they were selected.
I believe Brown makes the cut this year, simply because there isn't much depth at ILB. The squad currently consists of Mosley, Smith, McClellan, Orr, and Brown. In an ideal world, I forsee Brown continuing to learn the tools of the trade this season from the 33-year old Smith. Smith is an effective teacher, as Mosley mostly credited him for "teaching him the ropes as a rookie". I believe that he can be a player "on the bubble" this year, and survive as a depth backup, but next season he'll have to show improvement, as I expect Smith's snaps to be cut to some degree due to his age, and a rotation for the MLB #2 slot put in place. We even saw Brown taking snaps at OTAs this year, covering for the injured C.J. Mosley while he rehabs his wrist that required offseason surgery.
The jury may still out on Brown, but don't call him a 'bust' just yet. Who knows, he could just light up training camp this year. Don't count him out just yet.