Orlando Brown Jr. Reflects on the 'Worst Combine Ever,' Cautions Evaluators


Orlando Brown Jr. will watch this year's Combine because he wants to keep an eye on his four good buddies and fellow former Oklahoma offensive linemen.

But even though he's in the NFL, coming off a very strong rookie season, Brown may hear his name more often than his friends'.

"I'll probably be a running joke," Brown said with a laugh Monday afternoon from Norman, Okla. "That camera they do with Rich Eisen and the 40-yard dash – I'll probably be on that thing."

Brown may just be the poster child for why the Combine's physical testing can be overrated.

Talked about as a potential first-round pick, Brown dropped all the way to the third round after a disastrous Combine showing a year ago. Then he went out on the field and dominated in his rookie season.

Bleacher Report labeled Brown's performance as the "worst in the history of the event." They were hardly the only outlet to drop the hammer on the 6-foot-8, 345-pound behemoth.

To recap, Brown ran the 40-yard dash in 5.85 seconds – the slowest of any player at the event. He posted just 14 reps on the bench press. His vertical jump (19.5 inches) and broad jump (82 inches) were also dead last among all prospects.

"I'll probably be a running joke." Orlando Brown Jr.

Brown doesn't, at least seemingly, hold any malice toward all the people who crushed him, both in the media and on social media. He told reporters at his pro day last year that he had to stay off Twitter because "there's so many 12-year-olds in my DMs telling me they're stronger than me." Now he's back on social media, confidently showing off his fashion.

Brown realizes that NFL evaluators have a tough job, especially with offensive linemen. Generally speaking, better athletes make for better players.

But measurables aren't everything, and Brown is a shining example.

"Hopefully the NFL eventually starts moving more so toward watching the film and evaluating how the guy played in college – not what he's going to run or how high he can jump," Brown said.

In a string of tweets late Monday night, Brown explained, in detail, exactly why he's able to counter his lack of athleticism, and why evaluators should be careful moving forward, especially as it relates to offensive linemen.

Brown's college tape was dominant. The left tackle mauled defenders, beating them with his size, tenacity, technique and all the reasons listed above. Then ground them into the turf.

He did just the same when he reached the NFL and became a starter at right tackle midway through his rookie season. He started 10 games and finished as the league's 27th best offensive tackle, according to Pro Football Focus.

What also shouldn't be forgotten is how Brown has transformed his body. The athlete that competed at the Combine a year ago may not have had the same results without buckling down in the weight room. By the time last preseason started, Brown had shed 12 percent of his body fat.

Looking back on it, Brown doesn't think many players who had the kind of Combine performance that he did would do so well in the pros. The Combine isn't totally pointless.

"I do understand how teams view it and the measurables that go into it, particularly at my position," Brown said.

"In the future, there probably won't be many cases like mine – just being honest. I'm a guy that's big as hell, long as hell. I grew up around football for the majority of my life. I've been fortunate to work with a lot of great coaches and mentors. I learned how to play ball."

Brown's Combine performance didn't shock him. He was never a weight-room guy. Brown said he told any team that asked last year that he was going to be the worst tester there. Sure enough, he delivered. It didn't surprise the Ravens either.

"In fairness to Orlando … I love him to death, alright … I don't think anyone at the Combine expected him to blow up the Combine," said Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, who doesn't think it affected Brown's standing on the Ravens' draft board much.

"That's not his game. His game is being big, physical, long, tough, staying on his feet and trying to beat the ever-living [crap] out of you. That's what he did at Oklahoma and that's what he's done here."

The Ravens have always been a team that relies more on the tape than Combine measurables. It's just another piece of the puzzle. In fact, the Ravens really liked how Brown bounced back from his Combine showing. Sometimes, what's most important is how someone responds to failure.

What bothered Brown the most about his Combine showing was the bench press. He was doing more than 20 reps in his training and told team scouts and GMs that's what he expected to put up. So eking out just 14 was embarrassing.

"For me, it was like I wasn't a man of my word," Brown said. "There were all types of things being said about me loafing and things like that. I wanted to have a certain narrative going forward that the Combine isn't who I am, especially as a person more than as a player."

Two weeks later, he did all the same drills again and improved on them all. When he did the bench press, all of his Oklahoma teammates circled around him to cheer him on. That showed the Ravens something about Brown's character.

"A lot of guys would be like, 'You know what, I'm not doing it,'" Hortiz said. "He ran again, he benched again, he jumped again, he did everything again. That was cool in and of itself – the way he competed. And he obviously worked for two weeks to get better.

"When you saw the teammates that rallied around him … when he benched, I mean, you couldn't get in. It looked like Tom Brady at the Super Bowl."

Brown was hardly the first, and won't be the last, prospect to have a subpar Combine performance and still excel in the NFL. But that Combine performance will be attached to him for a long, long time. Even Brown remembered that Terrell Suggs, a potential future Hall of Famer who set the NCAA career sack record, saw his stock drop after a slower-than-expected 40-yard dash at the 2003 Combine.

"It's never going to go away. It's always going to be talked about," Brown said.

But that's OK, because Brown has never forgotten about it anyway – and never will.

"It's part of my motivation," he said. "I'm trying to be great, and it's definitely going to be something that continues to push me for the rest of my career."

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