Last year, Wilde Lake High School graduate Zach Brown was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans, 52nd overall.
Entering the season, his speed was described as his greatest asset. Brown ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, one of the fastest times ever ran by a linebacker. In high school, Brown was the Maryland state champion in the 100- and 200- yard dash.
His former football coach at Wilde Lake, Doug Duvall, said that if football didn’t work out, Brown could be an Olympian in the decathlon because he was such a great athlete.
Prior to the draft, his speed and athleticism were sullied by early criticism of his physicality. Brown’s draft stock slipped after NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock described him as “allergic to contact.” As a result, he went from a predicted first round draft pick, to the second.
During the preseason, it didn’t look like Brown would start for the Titans as they already had two veteran linebackers—Akeem Ayers and Will Witherspoon—poised to play most of the downs. But as the season progressed, Witherspoon’s weak play resulted in more snaps for Brown and eventually a starting position on the team, according to the Tennessean.
At the time, the Titans blog Music City Miracles said the criticism leading up to the draft may have been “just the medicine Brown needed.”
Brown finished the season with 93 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 2 touchdowns on a poor Titans team that went 6-10. His sack and interception totals were fifth and fourth overall in the NFL among rookies.
He could have had a third touchdown in week 10 against the Dolphins after his first NFL interception, but he was tackled in the open field by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
After the season, Brown was selected as the Titans’ top rookie by Titansized.com, a Titans blog.
Titansized blogger Josh Gunnels wrote, “Brown steadily increased his play and awareness during the season and became one of the lone bright spots on a dismal Titans defense.”
As for Ravens fans who may see hometown Zach Brown as a potential replacement for now-retired linebacker Ray Lewis, you’re going to have wait a few years. Brown signed a four-year, $3.86 million deal with the Titans before the 2012 season, reported Fox Sports. His base salary in 2013 will be $563,377, according to Rotoworld.com.
- WATCH: Columbia's Zach Brown Selected 52nd Overall in NFL Draft