While they are expected to sign an experienced veteran at the position sometime after the draft, this year’s class is unusually deep at tackle and offers several talented prospects that could be plug-and-play starters, or at least quality depth players. The Ravens are in need of both and the University of Northern Iowa’s Spencer Brown is an ideal candidate to perform both duties.
The former Panther was a three-sport athlete in high school including football, basketball, and baseball but is still relatively new to playing on the offensive line. He didn’t make the transition to tackle until he got to college where he redshirted as a true freshman. He not only learned the position but trained to get bigger and stronger in order to play it.
Brown played right tackle throughout his collegiate career including five games as a sophomore before suffering a season-ending injury, 12-of-13 the following year, and all 14 in 2019 when he earned second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors.
After UNI postponed their 2020 season to the spring, he opted to forgo his senior season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. He is the tallest tackle in the class at 6-foot-8 and 3/8 and is arguably the most athletic prospect regardless of position in the entire draft.
His mobility and agility in space are remarkable. On the play below, he comes barreling down from his right tackle spot and cleans the clock of an unsuspecting defender on a screen to the opposite side of the field.
Oh damn. UNI OT Spencer Brown. Here, coming from RT. Listed 6'9"/322lbs. And the guy can move. pic.twitter.com/DRsknzmTrO— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) July 12, 2020
He received an invite and attended the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl where he showed off his elite athletics traits. After a rough start to the week of practice, he rebounded and performed well to close out practice and looked good in the game. In the clip below, Brown walls off his former UNI teammate Elerson Smith and prevents him from getting around the edge.
UNI OT Spencer Brown knocked some rust off yesterday, but looked reallll smooth here. Especially for a dude who is 6-8. pic.twitter.com/krqd6J9tnN— Cory (Rashod Bateman to Cleveland enthusiast) (@realcorykinnan) January 27, 2021
His elite athleticism was further confirmed and on full display at his Pro Day where he tied for the 10th highest Relative Athletic Score (RAS) ever recorded for an offensive lineman. He logged a 4.94 40-yard dash, a 1.69 10-yard split, a 32.5-inch vertical, a 117-inch broad jump, a 4.4 shuttle time, a 6.96 three-cone time, and 29 reps of 225 on the bench press, which is a rare number for someone with 34-inch arms.
Brown is explosive off the snap and at the point of attack, plays through the whistle with aggression and attitude, has a great understanding and execution of blocking angles, anchors well in pass protection, and uses his quick feet to reset and recover if he initially losses leverage.
He progresses to the second level quickly, keeps his head on a swivel and looks for more work after his assignment has been executed. His basketball background shows up in his ability to mirror edge rushers in any and all directions.
His high center of gravity is an issue against shorter rushers and showed itself in when he went against some Power-5 pass rushers at the Senior Bowl but it can be corrected with more coaching and experience.
The fact that he’s only been playing the position for less than four full years and is already capable of starting at the next level from day one will make his upside and high ceiling extremely alluring to a team with a need at tackle. He’s capable of playing in any run schemes including both zone and power heavy systems.
Even if he doesn’t win a starting spot in training camp, Brown could still provide a team value as a quality swing tackle option as a rookie since he’s athletic enough to play either bookend.
He’s projected to be drafted sometime on day two in either the second or third round. The Ravens don’t currently have a selection in round two but that could be subject to change if they trade the 31st pick of which they are currently fielding calls for. They do have two picks in the late third but Brown may not last that long given his tremendous upside.
As he continues to grow and develop at the position, he could ultimately prove to be a steal like Brown Jr. was when he was taken in the third round of the 2018 draft before going on to outperform many of the players selected ahead of him.
Unlike the player he’d be succeeding if he was drafted by the Ravens, Brown has seen his stock rise due to his athletic traits whereas Brown Jr. plummeted down draft boards four years ago because of a historically poor showing of athleticism at the combine that year.