NFL Draft 2012 Sleeper Watch: RB Bryce Brown

Some of you, maybe most of you, may not recognize the name Bryce Brown. That's because his college career has been anything but typical or successful or well-publicized or celebrated, and he sat out pretty much all of 2011 after leaving his team, the Kansas State Wildcats, three games into the season, with no explanation. Regardless, he has declared for the 2012 NFL Draft, and at age 20, has been training for it and recently had a pro day. His decision to leave both Tennessee and Kansas State during his college career and give little to no explanation or reason for either move, plus his lack of production, will likely lead him to fall into the late rounds or more likely go undrafted altogether.

First - a little background on Brown. He committed to the Tennessee Volunteers for the 2009 season after winning the Hall Trophy (equivalent to the high school Heisman) in 2008, the first running back to do so since Adrian Peterson won the honors in 2004. He was the number-one rated running back in the country at the time by some agencies, and the number-two running back by others - the main competition being none other than Trent Richardson.

He played with Tennessee in 2009 for then-coach Lane Kiffin, and backed up eventual third round draft pick Montario Hardesty that year. He rushed for 400-odd yards in a backup role and when Lane Kiffin left for USC, Brown decided to transfer to Kansas State, to join his brother, a linebacker there. After sitting out 2010 in accordance with NCAA rules, he was set to propel himself into the spotlight in 2011. He was placed on the pre-season All Big-12 list and you can find articles talking about how he was going to be in the first-round discussion after a forthcoming breakout season. Nonetheless, after three games and only 16 yards on the ground as a backup, he left the team.

So - glaring, obvious red flags and the added bonus of character concerns stemming from his involvement in the whole Nevin Shapiro ordeal will mean the running back that had been compared to Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson going into school will come into the draft with the expectation that his name will not be called until day three, if at all.

Make no mistake, Bryce Brown is the definition of a flyer pick or signee. In the right situation, in the right culture, if he could handle and embrace the 'developmental' reality of his status as a player, he could be a major steal for a team that decides to take a chance on him late or in rookie free agency. His physical talents and natural running ability likely remain and he's still only 20 years old.

He apparently blew people away at his Pro Day recently, and Tony Pauline was there to cover it. Said Pauline:

Bryce Brown, the one-time highly recruited running back who has played for two different schools since 2009, but totaled just 104 combined carries in both seasons, gave scouts a taste of why there were such great expectations around him. Brown ran 40 times which ranged between 4.37 and 4.45 seconds after tipping the scales at 223 pounds. He touched 34 inches on the vertical jump and completed 22 reps on the bench.

Brown started his career at Tennessee in 2009, where he rushed for 460 yards and three touchdowns on 101 carries as a freshman. He transferred to Kansas State to reunite with his brother, linebacker Arthur Brown, a top prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft. Three games and three carries into his Kansas State career Brown left the program. Unlikely to be selected at any point in next month's draft, Brown is sure to get an invitation to camp this summer based on his awesome natural talent.

Now, would the Seahawks be a good fit? It's possible. Pete Carroll is the type of coach that believes he can reach any player and any person and the team has taken flyers on talented underachievers or character-flagged players before. This particular instance reminds me a bit of Seahawks QB Josh Portis, who was once a highly-touted QB prospect that went to Florida for a year, sat behind Tim Tebow, transferred, transferred again, and ended his college career in obscurity at California of Pennsylvania. The Hawks brought him in, espousing the idea that they needed to get him some continuity and sense of consistency to develop that natural talent. Portis flashed a bit in the preseason, the team is seemingly very high on him, and he was on the 53-man roster all of 2011.

Scheme wise, Brown's skillset fits the zone-blocking scheme well - good size at 6-0, 225 with vision, speed, burst and balance, and Pete and John would have a great resource in scouting via Lane Kiffin, his only coach at the college level for more than a few weeks.

The obvious concern would be any detrimental factor on the Seahawks lockerroom, but I doubt a late-round guy or UDFA is going to cause much of an uproar, and if he did, -'see ya buddy.'

Prior to last year and after the Draft, I remember John Schneider explaining why they didn't take Jimmy Smith in the first round and he talked about getting the lockerroom to the point where you have a core group of guys that set the tone. He talked about how maybe the Seahawks didn't have that Ray Lewis type of guy that will 'grab you by the throat' if you act up, as Schneider framed it at the time. Well, a year later, I have to think the leadership is getting stronger, and the competition culture and identity has been established enough to warrant bringing in a few risky guys. You've got Red Bryant, Michael Robinson, Russell Okung, and some established leadership now.

Said Schneider at the time:

"So, you can't fix everything in one draft. You gotta put together, two, three of these things and then you know, start supplementing and have a real nice, young core of you know, young, tough, smart, competitive, fast guys. Also, this is going to be something where we're able to take a chance here and there on guys, like you were talking about (with the decision to not draft Jimmy Smith) that may have some character issues and that sort of thing and that's when you can really start hitting on some cool stuff."

Brown may be one of those players, and if you could snag him in the late rounds or rookie free agency, it's a low-risk situation with some upside. Video after the jump...

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