Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Orlando Brown, Jr. takes a lot of pride in being considered one of the NFL's top tackles — more specifically, as one of the top left tackles.
He came into the league in 2018 as a third-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens. Playing on the right side opposite of All-Pro Ronnie Stanley, he was immediately part of one of the league's best tackle duos. But after filling in for the injured Stanley in 2020 — and being named to the Pro Bowl as a left tackle — he made it known he wasn't going to go back to the right side quietly.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach saw an opportunity, making a complicated deal (including Kansas City's 2021 first-round pick) to acquire Brown, who was named the starting left tackle almost the moment he arrived at One Arrowhead Drive.
Still, there has been skepticism about Brown's long-term future on the left side — and his transition from Baltimore's run-heavy scheme to Kansas City's passing attack. There have been some bumps in the road — but nine games in, we can get a pretty good idea where Brown now stands with the Chiefs.
Week 1, Brown has no kick slide & opens hips too early, not good enough against Myles Garrett pic.twitter.com/qTawd4hLnO— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
In Week 1's game against the Cleveland Browns, the left tackle had a tough matchup with one of the game's elite pass rushers: Myles Garrett. Here we see a snap where Brown offers up zero resistance to Garrett; he gets his hands on him to little effect.
Improved footwork and depth, but the stunt isn’t picked up cleanly. Brown and Thuney each hold some blame here pic.twitter.com/7I3k7xFv8q— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
In this rep, Brown's technique looks better — his footwork is improved, and he looks more comfortable in his pass set — but the defensive line's stunt isn't picked up properly. It's still a negative snap.
Brown gets depth and works Garrett around Mahomes, hips could be better but a good rep for 57 pic.twitter.com/kt6wWYNNKX— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
In this one-on-one rep against Garrett, Brown is much better. The former Oklahoma Sooner works to get nice depth, using Garrett's width to work him past quarterback Patrick Mahomes. If Garrett beats Brown play-action passes like this one, the results could be devastating.
Physical pass pro from Brown, dude likes to rough up defenders when he gets hands on them pic.twitter.com/qNijjhcFSx— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
The nastiness Brown shows on this snap is hard not to like. He keeps the edge rusher wide and then wins against the counter, sending the defender to the ground. Here, Brown struggles some — but still wins the rep cleanly and decisively.
Brown causally blocking two guys, no questioning his ability to play football at a high level but it’s worth dissecting if he is best fit for LT for the Chiefs pic.twitter.com/aImqCuBUMZ— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
In this snap from Week 2 against his former team — another defense known for its ability to rush the passer — Brown looks solid, blocking two guys at once. Brown demonstrates his versatility by keeping 54 blocked while also slowing the blitzing linebacker.
Brown gets beat inside here, not a good rep in general but especially backed up to the 1-yard line pic.twitter.com/PQwBq6oUju— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
Here we see a matchup between Brown and rookie Jayson Oweh, who was selected with one of the picks the Chiefs gave up to get him. Oweh beats Brown inside rather quickly — but luckily, the pass is out in time. With the offense backed up this far, this is no place to lose a pass set.
Week 2, Brown tends to rely more on his hands than his feet, he wants to get his hands on you as early as possible pic.twitter.com/RaxQX9au4G— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
On this snap, we see no kick-slide from Brown. Instead, he focuses on getting his hands on the defender; you can see that his feet barely even move until he engages. He wins the rep — keeping Mahomes upright — but his technique isn't ideal.
Week 3, ball gets thrown but Brown can move people in the running game, that’s his best attribute as a blocker pic.twitter.com/clltWnqL3d— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
Plays like this one are where Brown can make his money, showing he is best utilized as a down blocker in the running game. He moves people with relative ease — and when he is doubling with Thuney, holes often appear.
Brown getting up to the second level pic.twitter.com/rZSwaZFydh— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
Here we see another good example of Brown as a run blocker. This time, he gets to the second level and executes a nice block; he stays square while working up.
Looks like Brown kind of loses his balance but regains it in time (another struggle against an inside rush move though) pic.twitter.com/E4F87L3Rg9— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
On this play, Brown's pass set almost ends in disaster as he nearly loses his balance — but somehow, he's able to regain it and recover nicely. But his win against the outside move still allows the defender to cross his face on the second move. Fortunately, Mahomes can scramble away and get rid of the ball before he is sacked.
Orlando Brown (w/o Kelce) vs Joey Bosa pic.twitter.com/gZQdFuoikm— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 30, 2021
In Week 3, Brown faced Joey Bosa — and here we see an example where Brown struggles against a twitchier edge rusher; Bosa is just too quick for Brown to react. For Brown to get the big payday he seeks, his performances against elite pass rushers must improve.
Initial down block is successful and look at Brown get out in space, nobody there though pic.twitter.com/Aai7P4mQQU— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 12, 2021
Brown is a big man — standing at 6 feet 8 and weighing around 360 pounds. He executes a tremendous down block on this play before getting out in space on an outside run. There are no Eagles defenders there to pick up — but we see that he can move. God help any defensive back who gets in his way.
Brown halts the rusher’s upfield progress and forces a spin back inside but ball is already out pic.twitter.com/UBk01nbEYR— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 12, 2021
If a pass rusher can effectively utilize a spin move, it is one of the most challenging techniques to counter. Brown is decent on this play. He wins the first contact and provides enough resistance on the spin to allow the pass to get out.
Brown wins 90% of this rep, loses late but gets the job done pic.twitter.com/2NRXhgLRUa— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 12, 2021
If the Chiefs' left tackle does get his hands on a defender, he can usually control them — but here, the defender does a nice job of ripping Brown's hands away. We see a lot of plays like this one — where Brown initially wins but loses the battle late. Like we see here, it is usually enough to prevent a sack — but improvements are still necessary.
If Brown keeps the feet moving, he stays on the block and Edmunds doesn’t make the tackle pic.twitter.com/J6NaofRuPz— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 12, 2021
Brown's feet are sometimes an issue in the ground game, too. Here we see him engage the linebacker Edmunds at the next level — but we also see how his feet slow down. Edmunds can shed the block to make the tackle.
Nice job by Brown on the switch with Thuney & picking up the stunt pic.twitter.com/XlyI9rvyGZ— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 12, 2021
In the Week 1 game, Brown and Thuney failed to pick up a stunt. But in this Week 6 snap against the Washington Football Team, they picked it up much more cleanly. This sort of improvement is encouraging.
Good patient rep from Brown, waits for Thuney to pass off and then controls defender pic.twitter.com/tuG73jfZKh— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 12, 2021
Here's another nice rep from the game against the Tennesee Titans. Here, Brown shows the patience to wait until the defender enters his area — and allows no pressure at all. It's a clean win.
Here's a similar kind of rep against the New York Giants. There's not much effort from the defender; Brown shows no signs of losing. Through the first nine games of the season, his kick-slide has become more consistent. Reps like these could make it hard to deny Brown a new contract.
Brown has a recurring issue with stopping his feet in pass pro (McKinnon is freakishly strong) pic.twitter.com/yG6UFvWXr1— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 12, 2021
But in the victory over the Green Bay Packers just a week ago, footwork problems continued to pop up. Here, Brown loses his leverage on a bit of hesitation move, eventually losing his grasp on the defender.
Brown is so valuable as a run blocker pic.twitter.com/d0HdpWaZ0i— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 12, 2021
While Brown has work to do as a pass blocker, we can still see how he earns his salary clearing holes for running backs. Brown's strength — and the way he can move guys around — is impressive. He is clearly a more reliable road grader than a pocket protector. Still, it is clear that as the season has continued, Brown has become more comfortable as Kansas City's left tackle.
The bottom line
Brown's passion for succeeding in the NFL as a left tackle — which he got from his father Orlando Brown, Sr. — is admirable.
He is a lovable guy who came to Kansas City as a marquee addition to the offensive line. His play has been far from perfect at the midway point of the season, but there is still time to show he can handle all facets of playing left tackle for the Chiefs.
It just has to happen sooner — rather than later.