We’re six days away from training camp, so now it’s time for our sixth bold prediction for the San Diego Chargers.
Bold Prediction No. 6: Jatavis Brown will be the starting SS by the end of the year
There are plenty of things in this world we get excited for. Events such as Christmas, a first date, the midnight premiere of Suicide Squad, it all sparks excitement in our heart.
That’s how I felt when linebacker-safety hybrid Jatavis Brown was picked by the Chargers in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He’s a small-school prospect who can rush the passer, stop the run and cover–a jack-of-all trades, if you will.
“Few linebackers were as effective rushing the passer as Akron’s Brown,” Pro Football Focus said following draft day. “He finished second overall in our rankings, mostly on the back of 48 combined pressures. Brown also allowed a QB rating of only 94.1 and graded positively against the run.”
General manager Tom Telesco found a player who was very productive in college and has a ton of potential. At Akron, Brown finished with 340 total tackles and 16.5 sacks. 40.5 of those tackles were for loss. He was also the 2015 MAC Defensive Player of the Year. College Football Metrics’ R.C. Fischer wrote a great in-depth piece on why he believes Brown was the steal of the draft.
What will catch your eye is his Flash-like speed. At 5-foot-11, 227 pounds, the athletic Brown was one of the fastest linebackers in the draft after posting a 4.47-second, 40-yard dash at the regional combine. You might not be enamored with his height, but he’s explosive and plays big for his size. He’s also very, very strong–33 reps of 225 pounds at his pro day proves that notion.
And those hits? They are a thing of beauty. The only knock on him is tackling (25 missed tackles from the 192 he attempted over the past two seasons, per PFF).
As of now, Brown is listed as a linebacker, a position that’s fairly deep. He will look to make an impact on special teams right away before playing in sub-packages. But I wouldn’t want to keep a player like Brown off the field. He’s a playmaker who will create turnovers, something the Chargers desperately need to do after finishing in the bottom half of the league in that department.
Seeing how versatile Brown is and how safety Jahleel Addae has yet to prove he’s worthy of being a full-time starter, Brown could take over if he dominates early on. All in all, it will be up to defensive coordinator John Pagano. Deploy him as a blitzer, where he has the speed and awareness to get to the quarterback within seconds. Use him in coverage when there’s a quicker receiver on the opposite end.
Brown could be the Deone Bucannon of this defense. Watch for him to be a starter in some way in 2016.