The Carolina Panthers are going to have an almost entirely new defensive look this year under Coach Matt Rhule and the Cats think they landed a future Pro Bowler by taking Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown at No. 7 overall in this year’s draft. Here are Brown’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Panthers’ over/under win total.
As a senior, Brown was seen as one of best high school defensive tackles in the nation from Lanier High School in Georgia. He picked Auburn over Georgia and Alabama.
As a freshman in 2016 at Auburn, Brown was largely a reserve but played in all 13 games. The next year, he started every game and had 56 tackles while blocking a Central Florida field-goal try in the Peach Bowl. In 2018, Brown was second-team All-SEC with 48 tackles, including 10.5 for loss, and four sacks.
In a bit of a surprise, Brown returned for his senior season in 2019 and was a consensus All-American and Outland, Nagurski and Bednarik finalist. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year had 33 tackles, four sacks, four deflected passes and two forced fumbles
The 6-5, 318-pound, three-year starter finished his Auburn career with 13 sacks, 33.5 tackles for loss and 170 tackles while regularly drawing double teams. Brown then became Auburn’s first defensive player to be picked in the top 10 since Carlos Rogers went ninth overall in 2005, one of Auburn’s four first-rounders that year. He was the first Auburn player to be picked by Carolina since running back Cameron Artis-Payne in the fifth round in 2015. The Panthers drafted Auburn’s Cam Newton No. 1 overall in 2011.
“Derrick’s a dominant player. He’s dominant against the run, dominant against the pass,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He’s like a coach on the field. He’s smart, he’s durable. They’re getting the complete package with Derrick Brown.”
Reportedly, coach Matt Rhule wanted to trade out of the No. 7 pick but GM Marty Hurney never found a strong enough offer or simply didn’t want to move out of that spot.
Brown offers Pro Bowl upside at multiple positions across the defensive line and should at least be one the better interior run stoppers immediately. He’ll start from Day 1 given the losses of Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe in free agency.
The Panthers selected Brown over Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons because they felt the 6-foot-5, 326-pounder could make an immediate impact next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short, who spent last season on injured reserve recovering from a shoulder injury.
“We had them very close together, obviously,” Hurney said of Brown and Simmons after the draft. “We believed you start building from the front. Derrick not only helps [Short] and the rest of the line… he helps the linebackers. He’s a big, powerful player. He’s got a good first step. He’s a three-down player. He obviously helps against the run, but he really gets push up the middle. I met with him after the season. I really didn’t think he would make it to seven.”
Rebuilding the defense through the draft was a must after the team focused its attention on the offensive side of the ball throughout free agency.
Brown already has signed a four-year, fully guaranteed $23.621 million deal with the Panthers. He was the first first-rounder of the 2020 draft to reach an agreement. Some still haven’t agreed to deals. Brown said that he’s started to settle in as an NFL player, even if everything he’s learned so far has been through a computer screen.
“Just trying to get the playbook down, learning more and more every day has been good,” Brown said. “I’m ready to get into the actual meeting rooms rather than the virtual setting. But other than that, everything’s been good.”
Brown was given the nickname “Baby Barack,” after former president Barack Obama, when he was the vice president of Auburn’s student-athlete advisory council. His aspiration is to one day be a political lobbyist.