2021 NFL Draft: Tre Brown Player Profile

Tre Brown

Tre Brown 2021 NFL Draft Overview

Position: Cornerback

Height: 5’-9.75”

Weight: 185 pounds

School: Oklahoma

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Tre Brown 2021 NFL Draft Profile

Tre Brown was a four-star recruit out of Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brown’s hometown. The third-ranked high school player in Oklahoma in his class, Brown chose to play for Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners over other college football powerhouses, like LSU, Penn State, and Oregon. 

As a freshman, Brown played sparingly on defense, playing in seven games and starting in just one. He had 12 tackles, two passes defended, and 0.5 tackles for loss. In his first extensive stint on the field, Brown made his presence felt against Oklahoma State. He had two near-game-clinching interceptions against future NFL quarterback Mason Rudolph. Oklahoma ended up winning the shootout 62-52 to move to 8-1 on the season.

 

In his sophomore season, Brown exceeded the already high expectations and placed himself in the national spotlight with his play. Playing in 13 games, he shattered his counting stats in his freshman season. Brown finished the season with a team-high 12 passes defended, six tackles for loss, two sacks, and 23.7 yards per kickoff return. Because of his special teams play, Brown was voted to second-team All-Big 12 as a kick returner. On defense, he flashed in the biggest of stages. In the CFP Semifinal, Brown had seven tackles and he had a safety and a pass defended in the Big 12 Championship. 

After this stellar season, there were conversations of Brown being an early pick in the 2020 NFL Draft (following his junior season). But, Brown had a down year from a playmaking perspective in his junior season. Despite defending 11 passes and notching his first career interception, Brown had just one tackle for loss and 40 tackles as a whole, lowering his draft projection in an exceptionally deep cornerback draft class. Returning as a senior, Brown intercepted a career-high three passes, defended six more, and one tackle for loss. However, Brown continued to perform when the lights were the brightest, intercepting Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy to win the Big 12 Championship Game. 

Outside of the numbers, Brown proved himself to be a legitimate threat in man coverage with his deceptive physicality and improved ball skills (four interceptions in his last two seasons). He also flashed solid tackling skills, especially in his sophomore season, making multiple tackles at the line of scrimmage on wide receiver screens. Finally, Brown entered the 2021 NFL Draft after his senior season with the potential to be a late Day Two or early Day Three pick. 

Strengths

  • Plays much bigger than his size with the ability to cover more athletic receivers;
  • Excellent press corner, which could bode well for transition into the slot;
  • Quickly diagnoses wide receiver screens and flashes playmaking/tackling skills in the backfield; 
  • Had three interceptions in his senior season, illustrating growth in ball skills in college;
  • Explosive athlete with the ball in his hands as a kick or punt returner.  

Weaknesses

  • Lack of adequate size and length could limit him to a slot corner; 
  • Physicality in press coverage leads to unnecessary penalties;
  • While his ball skills have improved, he isn’t a “ball hawk” at forcing turnovers (forced fumbles and interceptions);
  • Primarily played in a man coverage scheme, so may need development in a zone scheme.
  • May struggle with consistent tackling in the open field, which could hinder ability in zone coverage.

NFL Comparison: Jimmy Moreland

Teams with a Need at Cornerback: Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles

Projection: 3rd-5th round

Bottom Line on Tre Brown

While he may lack the prototypical size as a boundary corner, Tre Brown is still an intriguing prospect as a slot corner with the versatility to play on the outside. There are a couple of prospects in recent years who resemble Tre Brown. Darnay Holmes was drafted in the fourth round last year by the New York Giants. Holmes also has blazing speed and transitioned into the slot after being a boundary corner at UCLA. At 5’-9.75”, Brown should immediately see the field as a return specialist in his rookie season and could find himself on the field in Nickel or Dime packages on defense. 

In the modern NFL, the slot receiver position is shifting away from the “less than six-foot and quick” mold that we have seen in the past. Now, offenses are often putting their best wide receivers in the slot to create mismatches against a linebacker or a slot corner. This is where Brown could shine. He has the experience to cover wide receiver ones in college given his physicality at the line of scrimmage and excellent speed. He could develop into a solid starting slot corner, who could bounce to the outside if injuries were to arise. 

The 2021 cornerback class is fairly deep with an impressive array of prospects at the top, such as Patrick Surtain, Jaycee Horn, and Caleb Farley, and quality depth in the mid-rounds, such as Shaun Wade, Rodarius Williams, and Eric Stokes. Brown could be right in the mix with the plethora of late Day two and early Day three corners with his ability to contribute on special teams and versatility on defense. In this range, Brown would be excellent value for any team seeking cornerback or special teams help. 

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