The Two Sides of Everette Brown
The dual nature of life in football -- how one can be catastrophically aggressive on the field and a true gentleman in the "real world" -- was made clear to Florida State defensive end Everette Brown at an early age. Brown's parents were sticklers for decorum and etiquette, and their son had always followed suit, but he discovered that there was "Dad", and there was "Coach".
"[It] was in my sixth-grade year," Brown told the Washington Post in February of the incident that altered his athletic mindset. "We were playing little league football, and my parents had always instilled in me a sense of manners, doing things the right way, and always making the right decision. We were on the field, in the middle of the game, and the running back came to the sideline. I had a great angle on him -- to really take the kid out -- but I pulled up and let him go out of bounds. My dad was the coach at the time, and he took me out of the game. The words he spoke ('If you want to be the best, you have got to lay the pads on him. You've got to put the wood on him,' as dad Odell Brown told the Palm Beach Post in August of 2008) have stayed with me to this day.
"Now, when I step on the field, that's my opportunity to transform into a relentless beast. I won't be stopped, and I will hit everything that moves. That passion on the field is my strength. As soon as the game is over, I could be walking across the stadium parking lot, and I would help an old lady across that parking lot. It's like night and day."
You might say that Brown hasn't stopped since, whether it's terrorizing enemy quarterbacks or impressing those who know him to be a player with a firm grip on the big picture. And since he decided to make professional football his next stop after finishing his junior year with the Seminoles (and getting his degree in Sociology in just 3 ½ years, thank you very much!), Brown's dream of being the best defensive player in the 2009 NFL draft isn't too far off. Most mock drafts have him even or close with Texas' Brian Orakpo among defensive ends, and the consensus is that Brown is better at getting after the quarterback.
It's the culmination of a young lifetime's work for the 6'4", 250-pound North Carolina native. After his sixth-grade epiphany, Brown went on to great things at Beddingfield High, where he picked up multiple kudos as the state's best defensive lineman and some Top 20 national mentions. He turned down offers from North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Georgia to play for Bobby Bowden in Tallahassee. It's a decision that Brown says has paid enormous dividends both on and off the field. When he declared for the draft on January 7, he mentioned that he "came into the [Florida State] program as a boy and am now leaving as a man."
"In that environment, with Coach Bowden, you learn that his way is the right way," Brown said, when asked what he would take away from his college years. "You'll be successful. And speaking about Coach Andrews, you talk about a man who has so much character, but is so passionate on the field. It's contagious. At the next level, in the NFL, it's all these things instilled in you that will carry you through life."
Brown got a fourth-round draft grade as a redshirt sophomore, and a high-second-round grade as a redshirt junior. But he wanted another season with Bowden and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, because he saw eye-to-eye with both men when it came to the duality of football and life.
"The thing that was intriguing to me was - and a lot of people don't know this - but on the Friday night before a game, Coach Bowden and our team chaplain give a devotion," Brown said. "And I'll tell you, some of those nights when Coach Bowden gave a devotion, it really allowed you to step away from football for those few minutes. It was about understanding the value of life, and valuing the opportunity you had. The lessons that I took from those devotionals was that it wasn't just about Xs and Os - it was more about life, and life after football, and taking advantage of those opportunities. Those are the things that will stick with me throughout my life.
"When I said that I came in as a boy and left as a man, that's what I meant. It helped me find myself, and find my own identity."
For all his ability to transcend tunnel vision, Brown is exceptionally single-minded when it comes to rushing the passer. After a 2007 season that saw him amass 6.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for negative yardage, Brown broke out in 2008. Including his finale in the Champs Sports Bowl, he racked up 10 sacks in his last seven games -- three each against Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Maryland. His 13.5 for the season ranked third in the nation. To what does he attribute his late-career onslaught? He is both a film junkie and a gym rat.
"During summer, and during camp, the program that [strength and conditioning coach Todd Stroud] put together really put me over the top, and I worked hard at it. I showed up to work every day. In the first couple of games, there were games in which I may have been on the field for [no more than] 13 snaps, but still getting two sacks or tackles for loss, because we were winning by so much. In the middle of the season to late, it was all about attention to detail. Linemen start to give things away in their stances. Teams have a rhythm before they snap the ball, and the offensive tackle would lean in their stances to run, or step back to pass, and these were things that I was able to use with my initial burst off the ball, and allow me to be more disruptive in the game."
Brown prepared for the Scouting Combine at Perfect Competition in Davie, Florida, and he's ready to show the NFL what they will be getting. "They're going to get the player they see on film, and the player they hear about when they talk to the coaches at Florida State. What you see is what you get. I don't have to try and hide anything or re-word anything. No matter what I was told to do by my coaches, I always gave 100 percent effort. As long as I do that, I have nothing to worry about."
The Expert's Take
Rob Rang, Senior Draft Analyst, NFL DraftScout.com: "Brown may be the 2009 draft's elite pass rusher. Possessing explosive quickness off the snap, Brown is consistently able to pressure the edge, forcing offensive tackles out wide. Unlike some of the other defensive ends of this class, however, Brown varies his pass rush technique and does not rely on his outside speed. Using an effective version of the club move popularized by the late Reggie White, Brown shows surprising upper body strength to physically stun the offensive tackle and has the lateral quickness to explode back to the inside. Brown also features very effective spin and reverse spin moves that enable him to generate a consistent pass rush against even alert, athletic pass blockers.
"Brown lacks the bulk many teams prefer in a traditional 4-3 defensive end. Because he plays with leverage and passion, Brown is able to hold up reasonably well at the point of attack against the run, but does struggle against double-teams. This is an area in which the stronger, more experienced Brian Orakpo (Texas) is more physically ready for the professional level. Brown's foot quickness, balance and flexibility, however, will allow him to make a more immediate NFL impact as a pass rusher. Some believe Brown is so athletic, in fact, that he might be able to handle the transition to outside linebacker, preferably as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 alignment. If he is able to prove to scouts this kind of athleticism in workouts, a 3-4 team may take a chance on him. As it stands now, however, Brown's likely destination will be with a 4-3 defense utilizing the Tampa-2 scheme predicated on creating a pass rush with its front four defensive linemen."
X-and-O Show: Everette Brown's Spin Move
Brown couldn't name a favorite when asked about his pass-rush moves. Is it outside speed, the bull rush, the spin move inside? "I think all three are effective. Some tackles are light on their feet, and I just go through 'em. If the tackle's an athlete, and he moves his feet as well as I do, that's when I beat him with speed. Guys who want to jump me, I can beat them with the inside move. When I went back to look at film of the sacks and quarterback knockdowns, all three moves were pretty much even. But most guys, when they line up and are one-on-one with me, I'm most effective with speed. Because speed and that initial quickness set up all the moves."
At the beginning of the fourth quarter in the Champs Sports Bowl against Wisconsin on December 27, 2008, Brown used his inside spin move to devastating effect. Down 28-6 at the Florida State 41, the Badgers had first-and-10. They lined up in an I-formation, but threw a couple of pre-snap looks at the Seminoles, backing the tight end off the line to an H-back position on the left side, and motioning the fullback to block at the line. Florida State answered by motioning a blitzing linebacker. The H-back then motioned to mirror the linebacker, leaving Brown one-on-one with the left tackle.
As left tackle Gabe Carimi dropped back to pass-block, Brown took one step to his own right, as if to try to beat the blocker outside. He then spun back inside, leaving Carimi absolutely flat-footed. Carimi had no shot at adjusting to Brown's speed and ability to change direction. Brown zeroed in on quarterback Dustin Sherer, got the sack/fumble combo, and Dekoda Watson (the blitzing linebacker in question) picked up the ball and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown.
Two things led to this Badger debacle, First, that Wisconsin vacated all help for Carimi by motioning the play to the right. Second, Brown's outstanding spin and speed. Brown told me that he believes himself closest in style to Indianapolis Colts superstar Dwight Freeney among all current NFL players, and plays like this validate his assessment.
While we generally frown on the use of YouTube highlights for full player analysis (let the word "highlights" be your guide), you can get a sense of Everette's quickness out of the blocks by clicking here.
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