How much more should the Carolina Panthers expect from stud defensive lineman Derrick Brown during the upcoming 2023 campaign?
The 2022 season was one of silencing doubters for Derrick Brown. After many fans began questioning whether or not he'd ever live up to the expectations of a top-10 selection, the star defensive lineman answered his critics emphatically with the best campaign of his professional career by a wide margin.
Brown was a wrecking ball on the interior despite extra attention coming his way from opposing protection schemes. He seemed to almost shift the line of scrimmage's trajectory single-handedly at times, coming up with some huge plays and also demonstrating legitimate three-down capabilities en route to an outstanding 84.4 grade from Pro Football Focus.
While PFF marks remain a contentious method of evaluating performance, one thing that cannot be disputed was how dominant Brown became almost constantly. This is the borderline Pro Bowl-caliber performer the Carolina Panthers were hoping for when they took him No. 7 overall out of Auburn ahead of Isaiah Simmons, who hasn't had things his own way as yet with the Arizona Cardinals entering Year 4.
Carolina Panthers are expecting another surge from Derrick Brown in 2023
The Panthers picking up Brown's fifth-year option this offseason was a no-brainer. He's now a foundational piece for any future success and the promise of further development under the expert defensive mind of Ejiro Evero only heightens the level of anticipation.
Brown, like many on the Panthers' defense, is making a position switch this summer as Evero implements his 3-4 base scheme with creative alignments depending on the specific situation. Something that could ignite Carolina's gifted young core to greater heights when competitive action resumes once again.
After spending the vast majority of his football career as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Brown is transitioning over to a 3-4 defensive end. Shy Tuttle is expected to fill the space-hogging nose tackle on the interior, which should provide enough room for his teammate on the front three to do damage.
This position alteration can play to Brown's strengths. He should provide a commanding edge-setting presence against the run and has enough in the way of athleticism to become a pass-rushing threat for good measure.
There will be times when Brown and Brian Burns are coming off the same edge together. That is a frightening thought for any offensive line and something Evero should put to good use at any given opportunity.
Brown is expected to get a megabucks deal in 2024 with any further improvements next season. In order to accomplish this, the Panthers will be expecting the player to continue emerging as one of the league's best young defensive linemen.
How could Brown achieve this? For a start, adding to his pass-rushing repertoire and increasing sack numbers would be a great place to start - because very few things in the NFL get paid better than those who can consistently generate pressure.
Aside from that, Brown must also emerge as a leader and remain a dominant game-wrecker in a new position. These are all realistic targets for a player with the world at his feet.
It will also make Brown a very wealthy man indeed. And if the Panthers had any sense whatsoever, they'll be willing to pay every deserving cent coming his way.