Friday, May 1, 2015

Reloading The Musket - Meet Malcom Brown: Husband, Father, Patriot

Brown's combination of talent and maturity made him the ideal pick, and a late first-round steal for New England
For the seventh time in eight seasons, the new England patriots have drafted a defender with their top selection - and with all seven still on the Patriots' roster, one would think that head ball coach Bill Belichick would have to be looking at an elite defensive unit as a whole.

Certainly the front seven is loaded with 2008 first rounder Jerod Mayo, 2011 first rounder Dont'a Hightower and 2013 top pick Jamie Collins starting at linebacker in the Patriots' 4-3 alignment, along with first round talent in defensive end Chandler Jones and 2014 selection Dominique Easley on the defensive line...

...and on Thursday night, Belichick added yet another gem to his defensive line, drafting University of Texas hybrid tackle Malcom Brown.

Hybrid may be the wrong word,  but how else can one label a 6' 3", 320 pound mammoth with the hands of a blacksmith and the feet of a dancer?  Brown played every position along the defensive line in his time at Texas, but his place along the Patriots' line appears to be Vince Wilfork's old haunt at the nose.

But Brown is a different player than Wilfork - where Wilfork was a two-gap run-stuffer, Brown is primarily a one-gap penetrator with such violent hands and relentless work ethic that he will command double teams just as Wilfork did because he can re-establish the line of scrimmage two yards deep in the opponent's backfield - just as Wilfork did, only in a different manner.

He explodes out of his stance and was almost always the first man off the snap, winning first with speed and then with technique, the latter of which is still a work in progress, as it would be for any rookie.  What that means for the Patriots is that, with Easley positioned as the three-technique and the rotation of Rob Ninkovich, Jones and newly-acquired Jabaal Sheard on the outside, the opposition will have to settle for picking their poison - and lord help them if they pick wrong.

Most experts were shocked out of their socks that Brown was available to World Champs and, privately, Belichick had to be positively giddy that the monstrous underclassman was still on the board at the last pick of the first round.

But publicly, the Dark Master was as droll and monotone as we've come to expect, answering reporter's questions like he was ordering a late dinner - but he perked up a bit when asked about Brown's maturity.

"I think that’s impressive." Belichick with a smile. "Staying in school, finishing up at Texas, starting a new program this year and all that, I think he did a lot of things that would lend themselves to making good decisions, being loyal, committed, sticking with it, finishing the job, all that type of thing."

Belichick's answer lends some weight to the notion that he factors in stability with his players more than most coaches do - an impressive list from him for sure, and he didn't even address the fact that Brown is married and has a child despite being just 20 years old.

"I'm real big on family – I love my family." Brown gushed during a conference call immediately following the end of the first round.  "I made a decision to get married and I really wanted that. It's just somebody to take care of and I've done that and I had a child. I'm going to take care of my responsibilities. Every responsibility that I have I'm going to take care of."

Mature beyond his years and humble beyond being thankful for the opportunity, Brown knows who he is and knows what he brings to the table.

Talent? Yes.

Confidence? Immeasurable.

"I know nothing comes easy." Brown said "I know I'm going to have to work for everything I want, and I'm prepared to give it my all and work for that. I'm just ready to go to work. I don't expect anything and I'm going to work for everything."

Sounds like a Patriots already, but sounds a lot like a certain 1999 sixth-round draft pick name Tom Brady when he was just breaking into the league.

"You guys drafted me," Brown continued. "so you're about to get the best player you've ever drafted, so just be ready for when I touch the field."

That's a lot for a 20-year-old to back up, but he's under no illusion.  In fact, when asked if he has any friends on the Patriots or even anyone he knows, his answer was the same for anyone: "Tom Brady."  He says he's heard of Dominique Easley as they were both five-star recruits coming out of high school, and he saw what Malcolm Butler did in the Super Bowl, but as far as familiarity and living the dream, he sounds as if he's taking it one step at a time.

"I know I have to work for anything. Even though I am a first round draft pick, there is a lot of pressure because they put a lot in me." Brown said, winding down the call. "Also, I'm not just going to take this and just sit back and lay back on it. I'm going to work, I'm going to do what I do going into every year of football. I'm going to give it my all and you're going to get my all."

Sounds like he's just going to do his job.  No wonder Belichick cracked a smile.

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