Which Texas Prospect Is The Big 12's Best Defensive Lineman?
By Bill Lund
Change is good. It’s a shock to the system that can push one through a plateau to allow them to reach new heights. In the case of the Texas Longhorns, for the first time in 76 years, Texas had no selections in the NFL Draft and after 16 seasons as head coach, Mack Brown will not be roaming the sidelines at UT. After reaching the pinnacle of football in 2005 winning the National Title, and again reaching the BCS title game in 2010, the Longhorns have fallen off in a big way. Considering that Texas recruiting classes according to ESPN.com were ranked #3 (2009), #2 (2010), #5(2011) and #3 (2012), it’s hard to fathom such a drop off in success and an inability to develop draftable players. Change is good, and for the Longhorns who had grown fat and happy on their reputation, new Head Coach Charlie Strong may be the man to get the most out of a still talented roster. Two of the most gifted players reside in the Texas defensive front four, in DE Cedric Reed and DT Malcom Brown. Each player has been regarded as one of the best at their position in the Big 12, but who is the better draft prospect. We will examine each in this week’s debate.
Cedric Reed DE, Texas
Reed was a relative unknown compared to line mate Jackson Jeffcoat, but the 6’6’’ 271 pound defensive end significantly increased his draft stock after a breakout junior year where he was tied for second in tackles for the Longhorns Defense with 75. Reed also tallied 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, along with five forced fumbles. The only other player to have those numbers in 2013 was Raiders 1st round pick Khalil Mack.
Reed as a prototypical body type scouts want. He plays with a motor and his production backs up his efforts. He is not a fluid or an overly athletic player compared to other top ends that were drafted in the 1st round this past spring. Reed has not developed as a pass rusher, lacking a go to move or any counters if he gets into trouble. Reed has 1st round potential, and has great numbers to help his case, but he lacks the overall natural athletic ability to be a sure fire 1st rounder.
Malcom Brown DT, Texas
Brown is a mountain of a man. At 6’4’’ and 320 pounds, the Longhorn Defensive tackle is gaining more notoriety as the 2014 season creeps closer. As a true freshman in 2012, Brown appeared in all 13 games and notched 25 tackles as a number two Nose. As a sophomore starting in every game in 2013, Brown notched 68 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, along with two sacks.
Brown has an athletic skill set with great size and speed for his body type. He is light on his feet with good change of direction skills. He does need to develop more functional strength and generate more power from his 320 pound frame. His development is this regard will help bring more “pop” to his punches as he battles with the interior OL. Brown enters his junior season looking to help the Longhorns return to prominence and establish himself as its most talented defender
Who is the better draft prospect?
Cedric Reed is a good football player, who is productive with the size NFL teams want. Malcom Brown is huge, and has athletic ability for his size while showing he can be a playmaker. I like Cedric Reed, he is a good player, but he is not even at the level of a Kony Ealy who wasn’t drafted till the late second round. Malcom Brown is developing; he has great size and ability. If he has another season like his 2013, Malcom Brown will most likely enter the NFL draft early, with his eye on being one of the first defensive tackles taken in the 2015 NFL Draft.