Sydney Brown, a safety out of Illinois, was selected with the 66th pick on the NFL Draft on Friday night. Not only does he fill a position of need for the Eagles, but he brings a level of experience and production that you won’t often find in the third round. In his five years playing for the Illini, Brown recorded 307 tackles, two sacks, defended 16 passes, forced four fumbles, and picked off 10 passes.
Last year, when Illinois had one of the best pass defenses in the country, Brown had 59 tackles, one sack, seven passes defended, one forced fumble, six picks, and a touchdown. He made multiple All-America teams and was first team All-Big Ten (coaches) and second team All-Big Ten (media). The 2019 Illini secondary has now seen five players drafted, one in 2021, one in 2022, and three in 2023, and a sixth player make a team as an undrafted free agent.
Sydney Brown makes a lot of sense for what Desai values in a safety. Great intelligence, a heat-seeking missile playing the run from depth, and understands how to operate with leverage in coverage, which is crucial in defending between the numbers. I see why they made the pick.— Honest NFL (@TheHonestNFL) April 29, 2023
Brown plays with the type of reckless abandon that fans, especially in Philadelphia, will absolutely love. He is fast, strong, explosive, and is willing to take on bigger players to make a tackle. Brown can play all over the secondary and while he might struggle to cover bigger receivers/tight ends he is a smart player that is almost always in the right spot to make a play.
The native of London, Ontario, Canada has a twin brother (Chase Brown, RB, Illinois) who is also expected to be drafted this weekend and the two of them took a long, winding road to get to the NFL.
#illini Sydney Brown hears his name called at No. 66 by the #Eagles pic.twitter.com/nRBzVspreq— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) April 29, 2023
The Browns moved to Bradenton, Florida for their junior years of high school, but their mother fell ill after giving birth to their sister and it limited her ability to provide for the family. The Bradenton Herald has the full story here, but you might feel like someone is chopping onions by you while reading it.
While standing at only 5-foot-10, Brown tested as the most athletic defensive back at the NFL Combine and his RAS score of 9.68 (out of 10) ranks him as the 32nd best safety, out of 957, that have been ranked since 1987.
Sydney Brown is simply a standout safety prospect.— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) April 29, 2023
- Played all over the field for Illinois. Never confined to specific role
- 6 INTs in '22
- 3rd highest coverage grade among safeties '22
- 3rd highest run stop rate (5.2%)
Extremely versatile, athletic, and productive.#Eagles pic.twitter.com/q5DjlDjYCR
Brown has gone through adversity off the field and counted out on the field due to his size, but he is now a member of the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles and I think that he’ll become a fan favorite quickly. He could slot in to the two-deep right away and, if he isn’t starting as a rookie, should be starting by his second season.