Orlando Brown Jr. is a left tackle. And more specifically, he will enter the 2021 season as the new left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs — a team heavily favored to get back to a third consecutive Super Bowl.
Much has been made about the Chiefs’ offensive line overhaul that general manager Brett Veach aggressively spearheaded this spring. However, most of the discussion has focused on the offensive line’s potential improvement as a collective unit.
In my debut piece for Arrowhead Pride, we will evaluate some of Brown’s individual 2020 game film at the left tackle position, where he was selected to the Pro Bowl for a second straight season. Let’s dive in.
Examining the skill set
Awareness / Processing
If you have taken the time to listen to Brown speak in any of his initial interviews since joining the team, it became quickly apparent that he is a cerebral player who respects the process of film study. This shines through on tape as well.
Brown consistently displays a strong feel in his pass sets of where to best position his body to make the defender’s job more difficult. Athletic traits — or a lack of them — are the primary reason Brown fell to the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He can overcome these deficiencies typically because of how prepared he is for each opponent he encounters. Quite simply, Brown is a football player — and a darn good one at that.
Brown’s understanding of the game and what defenses are trying to do to take advantage of him presents itself in how he handles twists and stunts along the defensive line:
Again, Brown is a truly smart football player who is quick to ID twists/stunts along the DL. Also has the power/size to handle interior DL exceptionally. This is one area that is going to be really fun to watch between he and Thuney. pic.twitter.com/rlw0T4T2qi— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 22, 2021
With All-Pro left guard Joe Thuney to his right, the Chiefs possess an elite left side of their offensive line, considering how they should be able to handle more exotic looks from the opposition. That is before considering how bright rookie center Creed Humphrey is advertised to be as well. The depth of options on the right side of the offensive line inspires enthusiasm, too.
Length, Hand Usage, and Power
Brown is a very lengthy player with 35-inch arms. He likes to use his overall size to not only get his hands on defenders first but then also push edge rushers up the arc roughly 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
In pass protection, Brown leans heavily on a 45-degree pass set where he again does a great job with intersect angles. His hand placement with the right arm is particularly good with great grip strength to boot. pic.twitter.com/LRTy750pqN— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 22, 2021
He is highly effective working off play-action pass concepts, where his length and grip strength shine brightest. I expect that the Chiefs will do what they have always done under head coach Andy Reid by leveraging what their offensive players do best while minimizing areas of potential weakness.
Some of Brown's best work comes off of play action concepts where he's able to really get his hands on defenders and lock on w/ his grip strength. I expect the #Chiefs offense to use even more of these concepts this year, leaning into a stronger ground game and elite speed at WR. pic.twitter.com/hhOox1kxxl— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 22, 2021
An offensive approach including a more diversified, quality running game that opens up consistent play-action passing threats makes a ton of sense for Kansas City entering 2021, especially considering the skill along a renovated offensive line, as well as the elite speed the Chiefs have at wide receiver to threaten defensive backs. Reid can maintain a truly aggressive, down-field approach with potentially more overall efficiency if this comes to fruition in 2021.
It would not be a surprise to see an uptick in screen game usage for the offense this season, either. Brown shows the ability to really lock down edge defenders with his long arms and strong hands, a tool which would be useful in setting up defenders for failure as they rush up field in those instances. He also can leverage these skills in a really positive way when executing run-pass option (RPO) blocking techniques, a concept the Chiefs love to execute with quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Brown can go toe to toe with the best of the best as a pass protector, and it is because of all the things mentioned above, as well as great right-hand placement and significant power in his punch. He doesn’t make it easy for whoever lines up across him.
Loved what Orlando was able to do against a good speed rusher in Bud Dupree, someone who possesses a skill set that one might expect to give Brown some fits. But, when Brown strikes with his length and punch, it cuts that speed off in a hurry (two separate plays in the clip). pic.twitter.com/9UzDXdrv8K— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 22, 2021
Even still, Brown won his share of matchups as well. When he doesn't open himself up too quick and his hand timing/placement is on point, he has no issue running a talent such as Garrett up the arc. QB has to step up pocket in those instances, which is expected. pic.twitter.com/ZlR824TpFO— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 22, 2021
On the flip side, maintaining reasonable expectations is essential.
Brown can do many great things as the blindside protector for Mahomes and the Chiefs, but like other players, there are areas for growth. How he adapts to a significant scheme shift coming from Baltimore to Kansas City will certainly be worth monitoring.
Temp check ~ if your expectations are for Brown to lock down the likes of Myles Garrett 1-on-1 for a full game, I would adjust expectations. Rare pass rushers such as Garrett who possess elite power, athleticism, and hand usage do present a threat. pic.twitter.com/dL04CBHR1X— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 22, 2021
Speedy Wide 9-technique pass rushers who bring a good rush plan (i.e. mix up their approach/techniques intelligently) can win, especially when Brown loses some of that angle discipline he typically does great with. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/Qeuy88zmmy— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 22, 2021
Competitiveness and strength in the run game
A game or so into the review, and it was very clear that Brown takes much pride in his efforts as a run blocker. Moving professional football players against their will to a spot in which they do not want to be is much easier said than done. However, Brown excels in this area, and the Ravens displayed vast amounts of confidence in his abilities based on their play calling.
The #Chiefs short yardage run game got better this offseason. When Baltimore needed a yard or simply wanted to finish drives down on the goal line, it was almost always Brown who they elected to run behind. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/yOR912dI5c— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 21, 2021
Equally impressive is Brown’s ability to block in space as a puller and execute wider stretch-zone run concepts at over 340 pounds. His competitive toughness really shines in these moments:
Brown still finds lots of success in space as a puller and climber, especially when he is able to stay on his track and use his + length and size to clear the way against much smaller defenders. pic.twitter.com/24tcXJNlhZ— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 21, 2021
Wide, zone style run schemes are still very much in play for the #Chiefs moving forward, even if at a reduced rate. Brown displays the get off and footwork to execute reach blocks, scoops, and is great at timing cut blocks. Gets the job done however necessary. pic.twitter.com/10BbomwIr3— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) July 22, 2021
The bottom line
At this point, it is clear the Chiefs gained a player of substantial value in Orlando Brown Jr. for 2021 and hopefully beyond. At just 25 years old, his prime playing years probably haven’t been seen yet. If (or when) the day comes that Brown is extended in Kansas City with a large contract, it will likely be well deserved.
In conjunction with the other offensive linemen added to the mix, Brown's Pro Bowl-caliber skill set creates some very high expectations in Kansas City. Ultimately, he is one piece of the puzzle that all needs to gel together to accomplish what the team is setting out to do — take it back.