Editor's note: NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might fit their needs, along with some hidden gems. In this installment, we profile Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown.
It will be nearly impossible for the 49ers to replace DeForest Buckner with just one player.
But Derrick Brown of Auburn might not be a bad place to start.
However, there only is an outside chance that Brown will make it out of the top-10 in the NFL Draft. The 49ers own the No. 13 overall selection, which they acquired in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts for Buckner.
Brown is widely considered the top defensive tackle in the draft, though he grew accustomed to playing every position along the Auburn defensive line during his four-year career.
“It was very beneficial,” Brown said at the NFL Scouting Combine of his ability to play multiple positions. “Being coached in the system, we didn’t really have (set) positions. We played all the way from the zero to the five, and coach mentioned we had to be versatile at every position.
“A lot of teams say they don’t even scout for defensive tackles or nose guards no more. They scout for D-linemen. They want to find guys that can play the positions across the board.”
Brown started the final 40 games of his college career over his final three seasons. As a senior, he registed 55 tackles, four sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss and was selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
He also was the winner of the 2019 Lott IMPACT Trophy, named after Ronnie Lott, that goes to the defensive player who has the biggest IMPACT on his team. IMPACT stands for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.
He made a huge impact on the field with his brute force in the run game. He has plenty of room to grow as a pass-rusher, too.
When asked to describe his biggest asset, he answered, “I think just being able to knock back the line of scrimmage and create pressure that way, but also be able to play the run and create that knock back."
NFL draft profile: Derrick Brown
Weight: 326 pounds
Career stats: 170 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 33 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, eight passes defensed.
40-yard dash: 5.16 seconds
Vertical jump: 27.0 inches
Broad jump: 108.0 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.79
What experts are saying
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: “Derrick Brown is an unbelievable talent. I circled him in just about every game I saw. It was Derrick Brown, Derrick Brown, Derrick Brown. He is a guy that definitely jumped off the page.”
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media: " Brown has excellent size, power and athleticism for the defensive tackle position. As a pass rusher, he has a quick first step and uses his hands very effectively. Against the run, he easily holds the point of attack. Overall, this is a complete player capable of dominating on all three downs. He'll be a difference maker on Day 1.”
Josh Norris, NBC Sports: "Massive interior disruptor who constantly worked through his blocker at the college level. It’s like Brown’s target is always the quarterback and the blocker is just an inconvenience.”
Lance Zierlein, NFL Media: "Defensive tackle with rare combination of size and disruptive traits who frequently bludgeoned inferior competition across from him. He has the ability to power into gaps, but he really shines when he drops his anchor to stall double-teams or punch, press and prey on runners as a two-gapper. He could become a high-impact starter early in his career with an All-Pro ceiling and good starter floor.”
Draft projection: First round (top 15 overall)