When Orlando Brown Jr. declared for the NFL Draft in in January 2018, he was fresh off a season in which he was named a consensus All-American offensive lineman for the first time in his college career.
The son of former Ravens and Cleveland Browns right tackle Orlando Brown was considered one of the top linemen in his draft class and figured to be a coveted selection in the first round. But that all changed at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he put together one of the worst performances in the history of the event.
“For me personally, I know that I had the worst combine in NFL history,” Brown told The Athletic for a story published Monday. “At the end of the day, I knew that it didn’t necessarily define me as a football player or define me as a person. I’ve never been somebody who runs fast or jumps high or does much in the weight room. But I’m always getting stronger and getting better.
“I don’t mind talking about it because it’s something that I think people need to hear more often about, more so than the negatives that people pay attention to. This doesn’t necessarily define guys as football players.”
The numbers were striking.
His 14 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press? Worst among offensive lineman at the Combine. His 19.5-inch vertical jump and 82-inch broad jump? Try worst among everyone at the Combine. The same could be said for his time of 5.85 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Teams reassessed their evaluations of Brown, and when Draft Day came, it showed. After originally being considered one of the best offensive linemen in the draft, Brown fell to the Ravens in the third round and 83rd overall.
“It did take me a while to get over it,” Brown said. “Up until that point, I had that first-round grade from a lot of different teams. I felt like I could have gone in the top 10, just with who I am as a player and the confidence I had in myself to come to the NFL and be productive. It did take a toll on me a little bit. It still gives me a bigger chip on my shoulder than I already have.”
But Brown wasn’t deterred by the loss in pedigree. He’s started all 32 games since the start of the 2018 season and was named to the Pro Bowl last season after allowing just three sacks at all year (per Pro Football Focus). Only one of the linemen drafted in front of him, the Indianapolis Colts’ Quenton Nelson, have since earned a Pro Bowl berth
“At the end of the day, I’m glad it happened. It put me in Baltimore in a great situation, with a great organization and a great team. My dad was really big on everything happens for a reason. As much as I hate to say it, although I probably shorted myself $20-something million, at the end of the day, I don’t regret it at all. I’m glad I ended up in Baltimore.”
Things worked out for Brown, but not every player who falls down draft boards because of a poor Combine performance ends up getting as lucky. Players drafted in the first round often get a second chance with another team if they struggle early on in their careers. But those who fall to the later rounds often have a shorter leash without the safety net of another team taking a flier on them.
Brown hopes to be a signal of hope for players like him who feel that their Combine results don’t reflect the kind of player they think they are. With the 2020 Combine set to start Thursday, he chose now to speak out and let teams know they shouldn’t put too much stock into test results.
“A lot of times people are wrong, man. They put a lot of stock into the combine just because of lazy scouting,” Brown said. “I just think too much goes into other things, instead of sitting there and looking at the film, seeing how this guy evaluates the rush, seeing how this guy moves in space. Does he know where he’s going? Is he the guy leading the communication when they’re on the field? From there, you figure out what type of guy he is off the field.
“The scouts, sometimes they do a good job doing that, but for me, that’s where a lot of teams mess up. I think Baltimore has gotten it right.”
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