High School and College Career
Sydney Brown is a Canadian native from at St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School and was a 3-star recruit prior to joining the University of Illinois.
As a freshman in 2018, Brown made his presence known on the field, appearing in 10 games and playing for a total of 585 snaps as a safety for the Fighting Illini. During this time, he recorded a total of 38 tackles, notch up 3 pass breakups, one interception, and gave up a disappointing QB rating when targeted of 115.7.
The following year saw Brown continue to grow and develop on the field. As a sophomore in 2019, he played in 11 games and logged an impressive 685 snaps for the team. During these games, he was able to make 70 tackles, one pass breakup, 3 interceptions, and was able to keep his QB rating low at 94.3.
In 2020, Brown played in only 6 games, however, he was still able to contribute to the team, with 360 snaps. During this time, he chalked up 28 tackles, forced a pass breakup, though he did not make any interceptions. When targeted, he gave up a QB rating of 104.7.
As a senior in 2021, Brown demonstrated an impressive level of play, appearing in 12 games and playing for a total of 796 snaps. During this time, he achieved a solid 67 tackles, 2 pass breakups, though he still did not make any interceptions. When targeted, he gave up a QB rating of 96.3.
In his final year of eligibility, 2022, Brown continued ramping up his play, appearing in 12 games and playing for 742 snaps. He logged 56 tackles, racked up 5 pass breakups, and an impressive 6 interceptions. When targeted, he surrendered an elite QB rating of only 47.8.
Sydney Brown Scouting Report Introduction
Illinois safety, Sydney Brown, is a promising prospect as a three-down safety for the NFL. With his impressive combination of transitional quickness and football instincts, he has the ability to quickly fly to the ball, making him a viable choice for the slot and deeper portions of the field as a split-field safety. Brown’s impressive nose for the football is showcased through his productivity in various positions, which indicates that he has the potential to succeed in a range of phases in the next level of his career.
Originally from London, Ontario, Canada, Brown was a dynamic track athlete, finishing as a Florida state finalist in 400m, 4x400m, and 4x100m during his senior year. His athleticism is evident in his play as he is a rangy player who is always looking for ways to compete.
Brown’s ability to react quickly with his first step, closing burst, and rallying to the football, are the foundation of his playing style. He has been moved around the field by the Illini, playing different roles such as subpackage linebacker, deep safety, and matching tight ends in the slot. This versatility is a significant strength that Brown can build on, and he should be viewed as someone with a functional athleticism without many limitations. However, Brown’s tackle radius has limitations that can impact his effort as an open-field tackler. While he has shown good pop as a tackler, he has been challenged too many times and has become vulnerable. Nevertheless, he has excellent football instincts and can react quickly to diagnose and react to any play. He often gets a head start on his rally to the ball compared to his teammates, which is a testament to his reactive diagnosis. Additionally, Brown has good ball skills, attacking receivers’ hands and adjusting to several thrusts into his area.
While Brown’s floor is a core special teams player who plays in subpackage roles, he has the potential to be a finisher on defense. As a five-year starter and true leader of his team, Brown should be a positive addition to any locker room. His fit in the NFL may vary from team to team, but with his versatility, there should be enough range in his role to appeal to all clubs. Brown has all the makings of an NFL defensive back, and as a result, he is highly likely to go earlier than expected in the NFL Draft.
Brown also possesses an excellent understanding of zone concepts and is highly aware of his surroundings. He is a reliable tackler who reacts quickly to the play and wraps up well. He also has the speed to flip his hips and run downfield, making him an effective shadow for opposing receivers.
He has the ability to read the play and make quick decisions about where to go and what to do. Brown has the ability to get up on the line of scrimmage and deliver a solid punch early in routes. He can then use his quickness to shadow, or back off and close quickly when the ball comes out. He has solid hands, which enable him to get physical on tight ends and backs.
In coverage, Brown demonstrates good instincts when sitting back in zone, with good ball tracking and closing speed. He is a willing and capable hitter in run support, and he closes fast to make plays against quick screens.
One area where Brown has struggled is man coverage, particularly when defending deep routes. In fact, it has been suggested that he may require additional support in order to defend against these types of plays effectively. His backpedal and transition skills have come under scrutiny, with some commentators noting that he can lose a step in the process. This will be exposed in the NFL and he lacks the pure speed and quickness to mask it.
It’s also been suggested that Brown’s eye discipline is somewhat lacking, with a tendency to bite on play fakes. Again, he lacks the athleticism to cover these up, especially against NFL teams who will test him often and take advantage if he’s undisciplined.
Sydney Brown is the 129th prospect on our draft big board.