October 20, 2012; Louisville, KY USA; South Florida Bulls running back Lindsey Lamar (5) runs the ball past Louisville Cardinals cornerback Adrian Bushell (21) linebacker Preston Brown (2) during the second half of play at Papa John

NFL Draft: Q&A with Louisville Linebacker Preston Brown


Louisville Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown (2) tackles Houston Cougars running back Ryan Jackson (22). Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

 

With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May.

So far Louisville has been kind to us. We’ve already heard from the likes of Calvin Pryor, Hakeem Smith, and Marcus Smith. Today, we have the privilege to hear from another very talented former Cardinals defender, linebacker Preston Brown.

Brown led Louisville the past two seasons in tackles, earning All-ACC honors, and finished second in tackles in 2011 as a sophomore. As a three-year starter, Brown was an anchor in the middle of the Cardinals defense and a tough, gritty linebacker that frequently made his presence felt against the run, tallying over 300 tackles in his time at Louisville.

At 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds, Brown is a physical tackler who can shed blocks and make plays at the line. The Ohio native possesses tremendous upside as an inside linebacker prospect at the next level and a guy that could make an immediate impact on the field as a rookie.

Brown may fly under the radar a bit as a linebacker prospect going into the draft, but he has the potential to be a starting-caliber linebacker in the NFL. According to NFL.com, Brown could be drafted in the third or fourth round come May, making him a player that offers a lot value in the early to mid rounds for a team like the Packers who will look to the draft to strengthen their linebacking corps.

Because Brown could be a real option for Green Bay come draft day, I reached out to him and he was courteous enough to take the time to answer our questions.

Louisville Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown (2) celebrates. Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown (2) celebrates. Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Q. First, tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and what led you to play for Louisville?

PB: I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, with both parents and an older sister. I started playing football when I was six years old. I wanted to be just like my father and he played football, so I just fell in love with the game. I was committed to the University of Cincinnati until Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame. Coach Strong began recruiting me after he got the head coaching job at Louisville. I went on a visit to Louisville and thought it would be a good fit. I graduated in 3.5 years and ended up accumulating more than 300 tackles. Turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.

Q. What is your favorite memory or play from your career at Louisville?

PB: My favorite memory is the 2013 Sugar Bowl. That entire week was one of the best experiences of my entire life. We beat the #3 ranked Florida Gators. I led the team with 13 tackles. It was a great total team effort to get the BCS victory. My favorite play was a 48-yd fumble return for a touchdown vs. Memphis for Senior Day. It was my first and only collegiate touchdown.

Q. With the college season over, what do the next two months look like for you as you get ready for the draft? Is there a particular part of your game you’d like to really focus on improving before the draft?

PB: Over the next couple months I will workout at Ignition APG to get stronger and faster. My goal is to demonstrate to NFL teams that I am a three-to-four down sideline-to-sideline linebacker. Along with that, I will be doing a lot of footwork drills.

October 20, 2012; Louisville, KY USA; South Florida Bulls running back Demetris Murray (21) runs the ball against Louisville Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown (2). Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

October 20, 2012; Louisville, KY USA; South Florida Bulls running back Demetris Murray (21) runs the ball against Louisville Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown (2). Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Q. You participated in the East-West Shrine Game back in January. What was that experience like for you, and what were you able to prove to scouts with your play throughout the week?

PB: It was a great experience to play alongside players from different types of programs and backgrounds. It was even better to put my skills to the test against them. I was able to prove to the scouts that I am versatile. I played a lot of outside linebacker over the week. That opportunity helped show my ability to cover in space and to set an edge in the run game.

Q. How would you define yourself as an inside linebacker? What are the strengths of your game?

PB: I define myself as the quarterback of the defense. I will lead my players in the best way for optimal success. I feel that my strength is tackling. I try to make a physical tackle every time and run the opponent back. I also do well in pass coverage.

Q. Linebackers are asked to do so much on the field these days. In your opinion, what does it take to be a good inside linebacker, and what is your favorite part about playing the position?

PB: The key to being a good inside linebacker is you have to know the responsibilities of every player on the defense. The game is changing so you must be able tackle in space. You must also be able to pass rush and create havoc in the backfield. I was able to do that this year with five sacks and seven QB hits. Then you must be able to cover. Most offenses love to pick on linebackers, so it’s essential that you are productive in pass coverage. I just love being able to call the checks, make the calls, and go out and se to it the defense executes to perfection.

Pittsburgh Panthers running back Rushel Shell (4) gets flipped by Louisville Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown (2). Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Panthers running back Rushel Shell (4) gets flipped by Louisville Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown (2). Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Q. The Packers will be looking to strengthen their linebacking corps in the draft this spring. If you were drafted by Green Bay, what would you bring to their defense, and what kind of player would they be getting?

PB: I would bring a downhill run stopping, pass covering, intelligent, hard-working team player! I’m a guy willing to contribute in any way the team needs me. I was a special teams player for four years in Louisville and absolutely love to be out there to get that extra opportunity to make a play. So the Packers would be getting a player who loves to win and a great teammate on and off the filed.

Q. How would you feel about playing in Green Bay? Do you know much about the team, city, or fanbase?

PB: I would love to get the opportunity to play for the Green Bay Packers. I was born in cold weather, and personally, I love to play in it. I know that Green Bay is the most storied franchise in the NFL with a long history of excellence in both players and coaches. They have had many great linebackers in the past and on the roster now. I would love to be a Packer.

Q. The Packers do play a 3-4 defense. Would it be a major adjustment for you to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme?

PB: There wouldn’t be any adjustment for me since playing at Louisville this last year was mostly a 3-4 front. I can thrive in that scheme or any other. I have no problem taking on an offensive guard, and in fact, I welcome it gladly!

Louisville Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown (2). Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Q. Who have been the most influential people in your life? Was there a player or team you watched growing up that inspired you to play football?

PB: The most influential people in my life have to be my parents. They are just such great parents and people, so I strive to be like them every day. Knowing my dad played football inspired me. I also used to watch highlight tapes of Jim Brown.

Q. Tell us a little bit more about yourself. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your spare time?

PB: I love sports, so most of the time I’ll be around watching some basketball or baseball. If that’s not the case then you could catch me drawing cartoons.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like Packers fans to know about you?

PB: I just like to let all Packers fans know that I am a hard-working, intelligent football player that loves the game and loves to win!

 

Career college stats

2013 – 98 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 7 QB hurries, 3 FF, and a 48-yard fumble return for TD

2012 – 108 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 QB hurries, 4 PBUs, and an INT

2011 – 84 tackles, 5 TFL, and 1.5 sacks

2010 – 10 tackles

 

Film on Preston Brown

Preston Brown against Cincinnati: 13 tackles, QB hurry, and an INT

 

Preston Brown against Florida: 13 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and a pass breakup

 

Watch more film on Preston Brown over at draftbreakdown.com.

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