Message Board
NFL en español
NFL Draft
Super Bowl XXXVII
Photo gallery
Power Rankings
NFL Insider

ESPN Auctions
Wednesday, March 8
Brown speaks softly, carries big potential

By Joe Lago

BRISTOL, Conn. -- Courtney Brown stood in the middle of the hotel ballroom waiting patiently with his arms crossed when his fellow All-America teammate finally showed up for the photo shoot.

Courtney Brown
Polite and talented, Courtney Brown is almost too good to be true.
"Look at those guns!" LaVar Arrington screamed during an entrance expected of the loquacious Penn State linebacker. "Make a muscle, dog. Come on, man!"

The wise-cracking Arrington knew exactly what these comments would do to Brown, who's anything but the muscle-flexing, talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk type of player Arrington is. Suddenly, everyone in the room turned their attention to Brown, who nervously squirmed in his size 16s before Arrington finally laughed, walked over and gave the big guy a hug.

If there is a gentle giant in the 2000 NFL draft, it is the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Brown, who barely speaks above a baritone whisper -- that is, when he does speak.

"That's just him," said Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton, a fourth cousin of Brown. "He doesn't open up to guys that he really doesn't know sometimes. But he's one of the best guys you'll ever encounter."

Brown chooses to say very little about his ability. Then again, he doesn't have to.

NFL general managers and coaches can't stop talking about the 1999 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. San Francisco general manager Bill Walsh likened Brown to a "Lawrence Taylor-type player," a tag usually reserved for the athletic Arrington.

Says Brown with a shrug: "I think it's an honor to be characterized with such great players, but I haven't played one down in the league yet."

Reportedly, the Jets think so highly of Brown they're willing to trade franchise wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson as part of a plan to acquire the No. 1 overall pick from Cleveland. Once thought to have a no-brainer choice in Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick, the Browns braintrust now can't come to a consensus between Warrick and Brown after meeting Brown at the scouting combine.

For as long as I've known him, that's how Courtney's been and I don't see him changing. On the field, he's focused. He doesn't really say nothing.
LaVar Arrington

"It's a great honor and a blessing to have the opportunity to be selected first," said Brown, a native of Alvin, S.C. "But right now I've just got to prepare myself for whatever happens."

Why is Brown being earmarked for greatness? First of all, he's not a one-dimensional defensive end. Brown proved he can get to the quarterback in recording a school-record 33 sacks. However, scouts love the way he can disrupt the run. Brown set a single-season Penn State mark with 29 tackles for loss in 1999.

Throw in the 4.53 time in the 40 and the endless stream of "yes sirs" and "no sirs" and you've got the NFL's dream prospect -- all potential and no problems.

"I've just tried to be a better overall player, to be a better team player," said Brown, who lets his play do the talking. "When I go out on the field I just get the job done."

Arrington and Brown are well aware they could remain teammates. Washington owns the second and third picks and could opt to replenish its defense with two dominating defenders should Cleveland take Warrick and the Redskins pass on Alabama offensive tackle Chris Samuels.

"I think it would be good," Brown said of playing with Arrington again. "We've talked about it a little bit but not a whole lot. We'll have to wait and see what happens."

One thing you can count on not happening: Brown becoming a vocal leader. Ever.

"For as long as I've known him, that's how Courtney's been and I don't see him changing," Arrington said. "On the field, he's focused. He doesn't really say nothing."

"I just try to take it easy and be more of an observer," Brown said in explaining his reticence. "That's just the way I am."

Joe Lago is the NFL editor for

 More from ESPN...
Draft prospects hit
Five of the top prospects for ...

Prospect Forum: The combine
After being poked and prodded ...

 ESPN Tools
Email story
Most sent
Print story
Daily email