Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Breakout Player: OT Levi Brown (Cardinals)

"Intense" would be an excellent word to use when describing the 6'5'' 323 pound OT Levi Brown. After starting all four of his collegiate seasons at Penn State, earning All-Big Ten and All-American honors numerous times, Brown was selected in the 1st Round with the 5th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. Here he signed a 6-year $62 million contract with at least $18 million guaranteed. It's safe to make the assumption that Levi Brown will have to become an anchor on the offensive line for years to come.

In 2007, the rookie played in 13 games with 11 starts. He was a major reason that RB Edgerrin James rushed for 1,222 yards on 324 carries last season. While Brown played mostly the coveted left tackle position in college, with Arizona he will be the other bookend playing as a right tackle next to starting OG Deuce Lutui.

When watching Brown, he displays very quick feet for a big man and does an excellent job on sliding out to block an explosive pass rusher. He is a naturally tough player who blocks aggressively on every play. He has no problem getting to the 2nd level and is smooth in picking up the double team. Brown pass blocks with good leverage and has very long arms, good for the tackle position. Sometimes he can be caught standing up too much though and can get beat on the inside rush. He needs to do a better job of staying with his blocks longer, especially from a power rush. His strength is in quick pass protections has be has a ferocious first punch on defenders. He has picked up a lot of experience in only one year in the league has has gradually improved during every game.

What are some factors that will lead Brown to have a breakout season in 2008?

1. Russ Grimm One of the best offensive line coaches in the entire game, Grimm is known for turning talented young players into Pro Bowl powerhouses, such as Chris Samuels (Redskins), Jon Jansen (Redskins), and Alan Faneca (Jets). He won a Super Bowl ring as the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005. Brown will continue to thrive in Grimm's blocking schemes and is an excellent fit for Arizona's offense.

2. Natural Talent Levi Brown is one of those tackles that could be a good left tackle but a great right tackle in the NFL. He is hard nosed, intense and shows the strength to become a dominant player for the next decade if he continues to play well. He has not had an injury history at all and can make a name for himself in a weak NFC West division playing against strong defensive ends such as Patrick Kearney (Seahawks), Chris Long (Rams), and Justin Smith (49ers).

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