Auburn MVP 10: Interior force Derrick Brown is No. 5

Monday, July 9, 2018

Auburn MVP 10: Interior force Derrick Brown is No. 5

Auburn enters its sixth year under head coach Gus Malzahn looking to improve upon its 10-4 record from a year ago, when it won the SEC West but fell flat in the season's final two games against Georgia and UCF. The Tigers will try to maintain a top-tier defense that has to replace some key pieces at all three levels, and the offense will need to find a new featured running back and work with a retooled offensive line.
Which 10 members of the 2018 team will prove to be the difference between a successful season or a disappointing one? delves into the topic as it unveils Auburn's 10 MVPs for the 2018 season.
5. Derrick Brown, defensive tackle
Auburn's defensive line is the strength of its defense and arguably the strongest position group on its roster entering 2018 thanks in no small part to the emergence of Derrick Brown as a premier defensive tackle.
It should come as no surprise that Brown, a former 5-star recruit and the top-ranked recruit in Georgia in 2016, had such a meteoric rise up the depth chart.
After posting 12 tackles as a freshman he led all Auburn defensive linemen in tackles (56) last season and could be in line for an even bigger junior campaign. Should that occur, don't be surprised if Brown enters the 2019 NFL Draft, as he's already gotten some early attention.
How will Derrick Brown improve on breakout sophomore season?
There's no question that Brown benefits from the work of his fellow defensive linemen, Dontavius Russell and Marlon Davidson in particular, but you can't hold that against him.
RELATED: The defensive end who could bolster the Tigers' pass rush
Last season the interior of the line was able to apply more pressure, with Brown posting nine tackles for loss including 3.5 sacks, in part thanks to Jeff Holland being a presence of the edge. This season the reverse may prove true early on as the interior is loaded with experience in Brown and Russell, has Davidson on one edge and younger emerging players T.D. Moultry, Markaviest Bryant and Nick Coe.
Brown is also a leader to the team as a whole, serving as Auburn's representative on the SEC football leadership council, and that carries to the field as well.
If Auburn is going to make up for the loss of Holland, Brown has to be a big part of it and he's more than capable of being one of the best interior defenders in the SEC.
Coming Tuesday: Auburn's top defensive back
James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

from Auburn Sports Impact

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