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One of the most popular names being connected, by fans and analysts, to the Vikings middle linebacker vacancy has been Kansas State prospect Arthur brown. Brown was a standout in the Scouting Combine interviews and he weighed in at 6′ 0″ and 241 pounds, an increase of bulk from his college listing, which was nice to see considering he still ran the forty at about 4.6 seconds at his pro day.
The biggest knock against Brown is that he lacks the ideal size for a middle linebacker of a 4-3 team where he will be asked to cover taller tight ends down the field and some, like me, worry that he would be forced to take on the weakside outside role rather than be a solution in the middle.
If any guy in this Draft has the skills to overcome measureable issues, however, it is probably Brown.
He plays the game with very good instincts and seems to be a very intelligent player-coach on the field, meaning that both his leadership ability and knack for reading defenses made him more valuable to Kansas State than most linebackers in college. He is a sound tackler and shows excellent gap discipline against the run.
Brown may not have the elite type of speed Combine fanatics line up to see, but he has the quickness and agility that converts into some of the best range of any linebacker in this class. He is the type of guy you trust to cover a runner out of the backfield sideline-to-sideline, but could still get burned down the seam by tight ends.
Brown started out playing for Miami where he barely saw any action in two years. He then went to Kansas State with his brother, Bryce, to play for head coach Bill Snyder. He redshirted for a year at his new school, but before the next season even started he was named a captain on defense, and became the best defender on the team. Outside of his shoulder injury that kept him out of the Senior Bowl and Combine, Brown proved to be fairly durable, and there really are no red flags on either this prospect’s health or character at all. The 21 bench press reps he produced at his Pro Day should be a reasonable indicator that the shoulder is no longer an issue.
In 2011, Brown notched 101 tackles, 9.5 of which were for a loss, and made one of the biggest plays of the year when he ended RGIII’s non-interception streak. In 2012, he had 100 tackles, seven for a loss, one sack, four defended passes, and two interceptions.
Brown possesses all of the attributes, other than size, you want to see from a middle linebacker prospect and has the production on his resume to back it up. I personally have Brown just shy of a first round grade, and worry that he will not be a three down player, but enough other people that I respect would scoff at that statement that I am willing to concede that I might be wrong.
What I do know is, if the Vikings select him in a couple of weeks, he will be an upgrade to this group of linebackers no matter where the coaches decide to stick him. His range and quickness would be a welcomed addition to this defense, especially as they prepare to play about 10 games against mobile quarterbacks in 2013, where this defense obviously needs help.