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Chargers draft options: Derrick Brown

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Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Purdue v Auburn Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Think of these posts not as comprehensive draft profiles — of which there is plenty of time to do, especially after the combine — but as opportunities to start thinking about the possibilities.

The LA Chargers have the sixth overall pick in the draft and the last time they were in the top-10, they changed the makeup of their defensive line, of the whole defense, by selecting Joey Bosa. Now Bosa is going into the final year of his rookie contract, the fifth year option, and many Chargers fans are clenching their fists in anticipation of an extension to ensure that the team gets everything they can out of his prime years.

They might also like to see Bosa next to the best defensive tackle prospect to enter the draft in almost a decade, according to some experts.

Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown is being projected to go as high as third overall to the Detroit Lions, and that’s in part due to the fact that Joe Burrow is locked in at number one and Chase Young is considered to be an elite pass rusher on the edge at the level of Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, or Myles Garrett. And while we are just one year removed from seeing the New York Jets selected Quinnen Williams third overall and the Buffalo Bills take Ed Oliver ninth overall, I was surprised to learn that it was the first time any defensive tackles had been drafted in the top-10 since 2011.

The Bills were also the team taking a defensive tackle that year: Marcell Dareus.

While Williams and Oliver are only just beginning, the previous four defensive tackles to go in the top 10 were Dareus, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, and Tyson Alualu. One of those things is definitely like the others, but to his credit, Alualu remains in the NFL a decade later. Any team selecting Brown would be looking more for a Suh or McCoy type impact, two players who combined for 11 Pro Bowl and four All-Pro appearances; they were drafted second and third overall in 2010 and are separated by one career sack at this point.

But the player to focus on here is Brown, who DraftWire summed up as this:

A physical defender with size, strength and speed, Brown fits the prototype of a three-down interior defensive lineman. He’s still a bit of a work in progress, but his hand usage and his physical attributes should see him get drafted pretty early when the draft rolls around.

What NFLMocks had to say:

Brown is a big and powerful defensive tackle who can dominate with power on the inside. However, do not let his size fool you. Brown is an extremely quick and athletic one-gap penetrator who consistently make plays behind the line of scrimmage.

Brown uses a quick first step to gain an immediate advantage over the opposing offensive lineman. He consistently puts the opposing offensive lineman in uncomfortable situations, gaining ground quickly with a good upfield burst. Brown also shows very good hand usage both as a run defender and a pass rusher. He has strong hands and places them well to keep opposing blockers off of his body.

The Auburn product has an impressive combination of size, power and athleticism, but he does not always make the most out of his natural abilities. Brown’s overall technique is lacking. Most notably, he struggles with pad level, commonly standing straight up off of the snap. Brown’s inconsistent pad level leads to him to lose leverage and get blown off of the ball far too often.

Keeping in mind that all draft profiles can have varying degrees of accuracies and misleading knocks or strengths, the bottom line is that Brown is expected to be an elite defensive tackle at the level of a Suh or a McCoy and his first-year impact could, like Williams, be minimal. But overall, he should change your defense, especially if he were lined up next to Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

LA finished 21st in DVOA on defense, including 20th against the pass and 25th against the run. Defensive tackle Damion Square is set to be a free agent, while veteran Brandon Mebane recently turned 35 and is considered a cap casualty candidate. While quarterback options like Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert are considered to be a high-risk, high-reward choices by nature of the position, Brown will probably fall into the “safe” category for many. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t carry risk — besides Alualu, other top-10 DTs of this century include Glenn Dorsey, Johnathan Sullivan, Ryan Sims, Gerard Warren, Dewayne Robertson, Sedrick Ellis, and B.J. Raji — but Brown is probably the guy who makes a lot of people feel comfortable that his future team is getting a perennial starter at a high level.

Can a defensive tackle have the impact that the Chargers are looking for though? That may be the big question, not so much what he can do, but what his competition is at pick six depending on how the board falls.

How happy would you be if the Chargers selected Derrick Brown? Scouting reports welcome.