Derrick Brown – Carolina Panthers DT
Derrick Brown was supposed to be a star. He was supposed to be this good. He just hadn’t reached that proverbial peak.
It’s safe to say Brown planted his flag this year, wrecking just about every opponent he faced on his way up.
Selected No. 7 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, Brown came into the organization with lofty expectations. He had consistently produced during his collegiate career at Auburn, so despite the pressure on his shoulders, it was also believed that he had a relatively safe floor as well.
That didn’t show during his first couple of seasons. In his first two years, Brown accumulated 75 total tackles, 31 pressures, and an 8.75 percent missed tackle rate. Not what many envisaged things going for the defensive tackle right out of the gate.
In the 17 games during the 2022 campaign, Brown racked up 67 tackles, secured 18 pressures, and drastically reduced that missed tackle percentage down to 2.9 percent. The third-year pro stepped up his game when it came to disrupting the passing game, too.
Through his first two seasons, Brown amassed eight passes defended. This season alone, he earned seven and tacked on his first career interception for good measure.
Statistics don’t always show how dominant an interior defensive lineman may have been, either. Brown was very often double-teamed. He was the disruptor in the middle of the defense and opposing teams planned accordingly.
This means we witnessed a whole lot of two supposedly immovable objects being bullied around by one, truly unstoppable force. Brown finished the year with an 84.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, ranking No. 8 amongst all qualified NFL interior defenders.
The final feather in his cap? Brown appears to have assumed a leadership role with the Carolina Panthers, which means picking up his fifth-year option later this spring is guaranteed.