With the 2023 NFL Draft over, it’s time for some film rooms on the Philadelphia Eagles’ rookie class. I will try and get to all the players and some UDFAs over the next few weeks. There are loads of scouting reports that will obviously say very similar things, so I have tried to include film clips to back up everything and I will talk about the player’s fit with the Eagles at the end of the piece. I watched the all22 on several rookies, but I can’t share those clips on my own Twitter accounts (or I risk getting blocked), so I’ve used a few other accounts here. Let’s go!
PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES: Jalen Carter review | Nolan Smith review | Tyler Steen review
+ Tested extremely well at the combine, and looks like an explosive quick athlete.
Sydney Brown is another guy who didn't really need the assist but got it anyway with a very strong bench score. https://t.co/l3F2i0jAiI #RAS pic.twitter.com/G01Skxvm17— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 4, 2023
+ He is jacked and looks like he lives in the gym. Physically tough and competitive on the field. Plays with a nasty attitude. Excellent competitive toughness. He’s one of those guys that you will notice when he is on the field.
Sydney Brown just destroying the RB on a blitz pic.twitter.com/K511xOvgtm— Brenden Deeg (@BrendenDeeg_) April 29, 2023
+ Has a lot of experience. 5 years as a starter.
+ Run and chase player with fantastic range, burst, and sideline-to-sideline speed. He looks faster than everyone else on the field.
Sydney Brown’s film feels/looks a lot like Talanoa Hufanga’s at USC— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 4, 2023
High energy, play speed always at MAX, can play top/down or as a box player. Excellent angles, you see his burst to close as a blitzer, pursuit man, or closing/attacking catch windows.
5yr starter. 3100 snaps. pic.twitter.com/sB0yCvlspp
+ Excellent at coming into the box from deep and filling gaps. He flies downhill as quickly as anyone you will see.
Eagles draft S Sydney Brown (Illinois)pic.twitter.com/ggNFVfT78Y— Barstool Philly (@BarstoolPhilly) April 29, 2023
#Illinois safety Sydney Brown…— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 4, 2023
4.47 speed. Explosive traits (40.5 vertical).
Saw the coverage skills in Mobile at the Senior Bowl.
Plays with a tone-setting demeanor on the tape. pic.twitter.com/fNBOrMqj9X
+ Physical and instinctive in man coverage, was really good against tight ends. In particular, he was very good against Sam LaPorta. He wasn’t asked to cover receivers much in college, but he showed some positive signs at the Senior Bowl he could do this too.
Sydney Brown had the fourth-best coverage grade out of 782 safeties in the NCAAF graded on PFF.— Brenden Deeg (@BrendenDeeg_) April 29, 2023
Sticky coverage on the 34th pick Sam LaPorta here. pic.twitter.com/AuxJtaRzBv
Illinois’ Sydney Brown showing his speed going step-for-step with Tre Tucker on this wheel route at the #SeniorBowl. The safety from London, Ontario has some serious athleticism. pic.twitter.com/WCXQER4ELW— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) February 2, 2023
+ Really good at playing the ball in the air in contested situations.
#Eagles get Sydney Brown, stud safety out of #Illinois. Rock solid player who has the ability to cover TE’s, really thrives near and around LOS.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) April 29, 2023
Sydney Brown (Canadian) is an explosive box safety who puts his body on the line as a run defender and enforcer over the middle. Eagles to themselves a fun TE matchup player who showed throughout Senior Bowl week what he can do in coverage: pic.twitter.com/Ei53aJQIl0— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) April 29, 2023
+ Really good ball production this past year with 6 INT’s. Aggressive when the ball is in the air.
Sydney Brown loves to disrupt early and often. Does a great job making receivers uncomfortable starting routes so he can pounce of poorly placed passes. #Browns #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/Od3Xcu9zpo— Cønnør (@BernienChompz) April 27, 2023
+ He should be one of the best on special teams from day 1. He has all the attributes to be a great special teamer.
The Sydney Brown speed shows on tape…on defense and special teams.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 3, 2023
Productive gunner last year for Illinois. pic.twitter.com/AHJ9PVuBEY
- Is he essentially a small box safety only? Spent the majority of his time in the box and very little time as a deep safety.
- Likely a split-safety only, very little evidence he can play as a single-high safety. Just didn’t see it in college.
- His game was largely based around covering tight ends in college, but is he big enough to do that consistently at the next level at 5’10? (I think he is good enough - but I have to point it out!).
- Flies around the field but is very inconsistent as a tackler, missed way too many last year. He may look jacked and hit hard but he needs to wrap up a lot better. He has a legitimate tackling issue.
Sydney Brown - S - Illinios— Jacob Morley (@JacobMorley) March 7, 2023
These missed tackles are all over his tape. I stopped cutting up clips at 3. pic.twitter.com/iHmzFxBoNH
March 7, 2023
- He has fantastic straight-line speed but can be a little tight-hipped in coverage, and likely won’t be able to handle shifter receivers in coverage.
I spent quite a bit of time watching Sydney Brown pre-draft (he was my #3 safety on my Eagles’ big board), and this was my initial thoughts on whether the Eagles should have interest in him. Spoiler: I LOVE this pick.
Eagles Thoughts: I like watching Sydney Brown play, and he looks explosive on film with really good burst. I do have some concerns about the size and versatility, but I think he has the potential upside of a very good starter. At worst, you are getting a good backup who can contribute a lot on special teams. I would look his way around the end of round 2/start of day 3.
The Eagles must have agreed because they ended up taking Sydney Brown at the start of the 3rd round. Brown was basically a box safety in college who asked to play around the line of scrimmage, come downhill fast in run support, and cover tight ends in coverage.
If he plays as a safety in this current Eagles’ defense, he will have to do a lot more as a split-safety and it is highly unlikely he spends as much time in the box. He showed some good reps at the Senior Bowl as a split-safety, but it is a bit of a projection for this role.
Sydney Brown is the type of player that every single fan will love because of how hard he plays. But I wouldn’t say he is certain to ever be a full-time starter. In a perfect world, you want your safeties to have a little bit more versatility in order to disguise coverages. When you look at someone like C.J. Gardner-Johnson, what made him an outstanding fit was the ability to cover receivers, tight ends, and play as a single-high or split-safety. I don’t think, based on what he was asked to do in college, Sydney Brown will be as versatile as this, but I do think he has the athleticism and speed to develop further. I think there is untapped potential with him.
I am not sure I see Sydney as a day 1 starter, but I think he will absolutely get meaningful snaps next year and will aim to overtake Terrell Edmunds as the year goes on. Edmunds is a lot bigger which gives him an advantage when covering tight ends and he is a better tackler, so Brown may need to prove he can handle this responsibility at the next level. He really needs to work on his tackling technique too.
I think the worst-case scenario is that Brown becomes a backup/role-player and a fantastic player to have in the locker room and on special teams. I think he will end up as a solid starter, but if he can improve on a few areas of his game (tackling in particular) then he could certainly become a very good starting safety in this Eagles’ defense. I hope he does because he will become a crowd favorite as he plays hard every single snap. I’m rooting for him.
Lastly, if you haven’t heard about Sydney Brown’s story to the NFL (and his brother Chase Brown) then you need to watch this video by the NFL. You will root for him even more.