In the 2013 draft, the Ravens traded up six spots in the second round to grab Arthur Brown out of Kansas State. But the inside linebacker has done little to justify that move, and certainly -- thus far, at least -- must rank as one of the Ravens biggest disappointments of the past few years.
Once viewed as a future cog in the middle of the Ravens post-Ray Lewis defense, Brown has been sliding backward on the depth chart. He appeared in 14 games as a rookie in 2012, but last season he did not play a single defensive snap, appearing in four games in limited special teams duty.
As Brown worked through the Ravens OTAs this month, it's fair to wonder: Is this his last chance?
Publicly, the Ravens are saying all the right things about Brown, who frequently worked with the starters in OTAs with Daryl Smith sitting out most of the workouts and C.J. Mosley recovering from a wrist injury. Considered slightly undersized, Brown is listed at 6-0 and 235 pounds but reportedly has added 5 to 10 pounds.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees on Monday said that Brown was having "an outstanding camp. I think he’s getting around, knowing what we really want to do on defense. It’s his third time or so around of knowing the defense and knowing the calls, and I’ve seen a tremendous improvement.”
But like Matt Elam -- picked in the first round of that same 2013 draft -- the Ravens have publicly put Brown on notice.
“Arthur Brown is another young man who, at this point of his career, needs to find a way to get to the field,” general manager Ozzie Newsome told season-ticket holders on a conference call earlier this spring.
The best route is probably on special teams, as Smith and Mosley would seem to have the starting jobs nailed down. (And the fact that the Ravens drafted Mosley in the first round, one year after selecting Brown, seemed ominous for Brown.)
Last season, Brown essentially lost out on special teams work to undrafted rookie Zach Orr. Orr and Albert McClellan, a special teams standout, became the regular backups at inside linebacker, with Brown on the outside looking in.
Pees, an NFL coach for 12 years, has said in that past that he seen plenty of examples of players who blossomed two or three years into their careers. The Ravens must hope that's the case with Brown.
Entering his third season, it could be now or never for him.