Potential. The word has followed Andrew Brown through college and into the professional ranks.
Brown was a two-time USA Today High School All-American in Chesapeake, Virginia, and was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior. He was a five-star recruit, and chose to stay close to home at the University of Virginia.
And he never quite lived up to that billing. Brown finished his four-year college career with 26.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He did bat down four passes, recovered a fumble and forced another one.
Cincinnati selected Brown in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, and he became the first defensive lineman drafted out of Virginia since Eli Harold was taken by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round in 2015.
Unfortunately for everyone concerned, Brown never really got a chance to show what he could do. He missed most of training camp and preseason with a hamstring injury, and wound up on the practice squad. After 10 weeks there, Brown suffered a hand injury and was moved to the injured list.
Saturday night, Bengals fans finally got a peek into what Brown can do when healthy. Against Kansas City backups, Brown was all over the field. He finished with two solo tackles, one which resulted in a sack and the other a tackle for loss. He also accounted for three of the Bengals’ four quarterback hits on the evening while forcing a holding penalty.
It was just a small sample size, but we finally got a glimpse into what young Brown can do, and not a moment too soon. The defensive line is already crowded with Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson having their roster spots secure. That’s leaving very little room for Brown to win a roster spot.
But if Saturday is any indicator, the Bengals will have no choice but to assure Brown of a spot on the 53-man roster.
Let’s hope for even more as time goes on.