2023 NFL Combine Profile: Ji’Ayir Brown, Safety
After coming to Penn State from a junior college program and leaving his mark as a Rose Bowl champion and defensive MVP, safety Ji'Ayir Brown is looking to turn some heads at the NFL combine to improve his NFL draft stock as he goes to the next level. Brown will be one of the more intriguing players to watch at the combine as he finds himself as a potential mid-round draft prospect. A good showing at the NFL combine could boost his stock to a possible Day 2 draft pick, while a disappointing performance could sink him into the later rounds.
Here is a look at Ji’Ayir Brown as an NFL draft prospect as he prepares to attend the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
If nothing else can be said about Ji’Ayir Brown as a prospect, it should be noted that he is not afraid to go out and earn his accolades. Brown was one of the biggest success stories Penn State saw come through the program from its JUCO pipeline of Lackawanna College. Brown quickly became a top player for the Penn State defense, and playing alongside former draft pick [autotag]Jaquan Brisker[/autotag] in 2021 allowed Brown to continue to grow and prosper. While Brisker was the star of the Penn State defense in 2021, Brown was the one who led the team in interceptions and made more than a handful of big plays when the Nittany Lions needed them.
Brown continued to be a defensive leader in 2022 after Brisker’s departure to the NFL. In 2022, Brown had 74 tackles and four interceptions and two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Brown close out his college career with a standout performance in Penn State’s Rose Bowl victory over Utah, in which Brown was named the game’s defensive MVP.
This past season, Ji’Ayir Brown was named PSU’s Most Valuable Player (as well as its top strength and conditioning performer) after finishing with a team-high 74 tackles and a team-high 4 INTs along with 3PBUs, 5 QB hurries, 2 FFs.
🏈 PFF grade 76.2
🏈 Rose Bowl defensive MVP pic.twitter.com/wL7ZqZQFoh
— Durst (@DurstNFLDraft) January 26, 2023
Penn State S Ji’Ayir Brown using his range, cover instincts, and ball skills to come from center field and pick this pass off in the Rose Bowl.
Brown is one of the best safeties in the 2023 NFL Draft class and is headed to the @ShrineBowl. pic.twitter.com/uLK4eTgRc5
— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) January 3, 2023
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The biggest asset Ji’Ayir Brown has is his range and ability to cover the field. He is also a player who can fit into any number of defensive schemes at the next level, even if he is merely adding depth to a roster and not taking on a full-time starting role with his team.
Brown has the right size to be a successful player at the next level, and the ability to throw him into different spots across the field will be a luxury for any NFL team. It is unlikely that Brown will fail to complete a tackle, This is part of the reason Penn State felt comfortable rushing Brown from the line of scrimmage on certain packages at times. Few players on the field will be tougher than Brown.
Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown is one of my favs in the 2023 NFL Draft because of his versatility, physicality, and athleticism, and it’s all been on full display in the Rose Bowl.
After flashing his range on an INT earlier, he puts the OT on skates with the sack. pic.twitter.com/aUagdCVXJv
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) January 3, 2023
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
While Brown may have been one of the most productive players on the Penn State roster, his biggest area for concern at the next level is his reaction time. Brown’s instinct may have served him well for the most part at Penn State, but there have been times where he has been a bit slow in reacting to what is developing on a play. In the NFL, it doesn’t take long for a play to blow up if a defensive player is a tad too slow to react and adjust.
Brown is also not the fastest safety on the board, which is why his 40-yard dash time will be something to watch closely at the combine.
Where Brown sits among draft prospects
Michael Chang/Getty Images
While Ji’Ayir Brown is clearly a prospect worth keeping tabs on, he does lag behind a number of other safety prospects in this year’s NFL draft board. A ranking of the top 10 safeties published by Pro Football Focus has Brown ranked 10th in this year’s draft.
Alabama safeties Brian Branch and Jordan Battle are among the top safety prospects in this year’s draft, and Texas A&M‘s Antonio Johnson has been rated highly as well. NFL Draft Wire also has Brown in their top 10 safety prospects, with a no. 8 ranking.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Considering Ji’Ayir Brown is widely considered to be at the bottom of the top 10 safeties in this year’s NFL draft, it should not be expected that Brown will be selected in the first round. But a Day 2 prospect? That seems like the ceiling for Brown.
Brown will undoubtedly be drafted by a team looking to add some depth to its defensive secondary and perhaps add a player that can contribute on special teams coverage. Brown is looking to be a mid-round draft pick, either late on Day 2 or early on Day 3. Slipping past the fifth round might be a shock though.
Other Penn State players at the 2023 NFL Combine