Simply making it to the NFL was an uphill battle for Bryce Brown, that he was able to overcome. However, since getting to the NFL, getting him to go downhill has been his problem.
Brown, who was once the top college-recruit at the running-back position in the nation, never fully flourished, leaving both the Tennessee program (not hard to argue with that choice) and Kansas State, and only receiving 103 carries in parts of two NCAA seasons. Fortunately for Brown, he got to compete in a pro-day at Kansas State, and proved enough for the Eagles to take a shot on him the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Even if Brown never plays another NFL snap, he has produced much more than most 7th round picks tend to, running for 878 yards in his first two seasons, and correcting an early fumbling problem. What has made Brown so potentially valuable to the Eagles, is that when both him and LeSean McCoy are healthy, his power running can provide the perfect change of pace from McCoy’s speed and elusiveness. One could say that while McCoy can tire a defense out with his east-west running style, that Brown can finish off a defense with his power running north-to-south style. Or at least, one could hope.
Not that Chip Kelly gave him too much of an opportunity to prove himself in 2013, but Brown seemed more interested in running east-to-west, just like McCoy. Not that he didn’t produce at all in 2013 (he basically finished off the Eagles last scoring drive in their division-clinching win over the Cowboys), but the Eagles likely view his unwillingness to consistently be the power-runner that he clearly is built to be, as alarming, considering his past of only wanting to do things his way. I’ve also consistently heard the sentiment that Brown isn’t a quick-speedy back like LeSean McCoy and Chris Polk, and his lack of being a good pass-catcher, has made him extremely expendable.
The Howie Roseman-Tom Gamble-Chip Kelly regime also seems high on having as many picks in each draft as possible, which Roseman indicated when he spoke yesterday.
Roseman says team would not be afraid to move up, even with six picks, if the player was right … In whatever round.
— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) May 1, 2014
You would expect most general managers to say something like that around the draft, but the Eagles have a history of moving up in the draft. Whether it was for Jeremy Maclin and Fletcher Cox in the first-round, or even a move up in the fourth-round to take Matt Barkley last year, the Eagles aren’t shy about moving up to take a player that they are afraid will be off the board before they can select them. The problem this year is that they enter the draft with only six picks, which could mean that it could take a player of Brown’s skill to move up at some point in the draft, or just to land another pick.
Everything’s for sale if it’s the right price, Roseman says .. We’re not openly shopping guys, but in trade talks teams will ask about depth
— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) May 1, 2014
A guy that appears to have shown at least the type of quality to be a project runner with the upside to be a very good starter, which is my evaluation of Brown after his first two seasons, would likely be intriguing depth for a team. Brown will be 23 later this month, and considering that the value of running-backs have gone down the drain, teams could have a shot to get a future starter running-back for a third to fifth-round pick. That sounds like something that at least a few teams would be interested in, even if they don’t plan on Brown starting for a couple years. In the end, they will likely get more value out of acquiring him, than they would at taking a shot in the dark on a mid to late round pick. Brown has proven that while he has his flaws, if he figures things out, he could be an above-average starter. If not, he still provides value as a backup running-back or a in a two-back system.
As for the Eagles, moving him would land them another coveted pick, and a chance to move Chris Polk (who ‘fits’ Chip Kelly’s offense better than Brown by many accounts) up the depth chart. Am I thrilled with this idea? Not really, but the whispers have been out there for the entire off-season that Brown may not return, and I do think if they get a third or fourth rounder, the Eagles can find value at a position that is more of a necessity than the backup running-back spot.
I think regardless of what the return for Brown ends up being, whether it is for a pick or as part of a package to trade-up for a pick, he will be moved before the end of next weekend. Let me again go on the record as saying that while I see the Eagles side of things, I think the benefits of keeping Brown and utilizing him even more in 2014, would give the Eagles a better chance to compete for a Superbowl than moving him. But, I don’t work in the Eagles front-office.