With their second pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the Seahawks attacked another position that seemed a need, taking cornerback Tre Brown of Oklahoma.
Seattle got him with the 137th overall pick, a selection it had obtained a little earlier in a trade with Tampa Bay, moving down from 129 to also get pick 217 in the process. Seattle has pick 250, as well.
Brown projects as a slot cornerback in the NFL, standing at 5-9, 188 pounds, though he played mostly on the outside for the Sooners. He also doesn’t fit the typical Seattle mold for cornerbacks, recording an arm length of just 30-3/8 inches — the Seahawks have typically preferred an arm length of 32 inches or greater.
“I’ll play wherever they want me to play,” Brown said when he talked to media via Zoom. “It doesn’t matter.”
His height also is not the norm for the Seahawks, who became the template for teams favoring bigger cornerbacks in the past decade with the likes of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.
But the success last year of the 5-9, 193-pound D.J. Reed may have helped sway Seattle’s thoughts some.
Brown said his size is not an issue.
“Size never meant anything to me,” said Brown, adding that Seattle is “getting a guy with a great scrappy mentality.”
And analysts say Brown made up for lack of size with overall athleticism, toughness and speed. He clocked a 4.4 40 at OU’s Pro Day earlier this year.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah called Brown “competitive and feisty,” a description that also has well fit many Seahawks of the past.
Seattle has five veteran cornerbacks on its roster but none with contracts that last beyond the 2021 season which made cornerback a popular position for analysts to expect the Seahawks to address in the draft.
Coach Pete Carroll said following the draft that Brown will start out as an outside corner for the Seahawks saying he was not drafted to be a nickel.
“He’s a corner,” Carroll said. “He’s going to play outside and start there, and we’re going to see what he brings to the competition. He played outside throughout his years. Hasn’t played inside as a featured nickel guy, but we know that he would have the ability to do that. The one-on-ones in the Senior Bowl were really indicative of his ability to stick to people. He went against really good receivers, really good one-on-one opportunities, and whether he is playing inside or outside, he’s going to do fine. We’re thinking of him as a corner to play outside. We didn’t draft him as a nickel, if that’s what you’re asking. We did not.”
Sports Info Solutions wrote of Brown: “Brown projects as a No. 3 cornerback due to his athleticism and solid coverage skills, fitting best in a press-man scheme. He has the quickness to be a versatile cover corner who can play inside or outside. On third downs he fits best on the inside where he can use his physicality in press against speedier receivers.”
Brown had 33 starts for the Sooners in four seasons (he could have returned for another year but declared for the draft after the season) with four interceptions, three coming last season. He made his first start in 2018 five days after the death of his mother, Beverly Brewer.
Brown was also a mainstay on special teams for the Sooners, returning 55 kickoffs in his career for 1,207 yards — he earned second-team All-Big 12 honors as a kick returner in 2018 — and was considered one of the better gunners coming into the draft.
“When you say what position I play I just say I’m an athlete,” Brown said. “I do special teams really well. When I get on the field I’m going to give it my all — kickoff, return whether it’s guarding you on the punt return as well. Every time I get out here I’m going to try to destroy you, be the fastest guy out there and just make those plays. So I pride myself on special teams just like defense.”
And like Seattle’s first pick in the draft on Friday, receiver D’Wayne Eskridge, Brown was considered to have had an impressive Senior Bowl week that caught the eyes of the Seahawks. Brown said he played mostly on the inside during the Senior Bowl, which might further foreshadow that he could start his Seattle career as a nickel.
“The game was practice for me,” said Brown, who was named the top defensive back of the American team at the Senior Bowl. “I came in there had one mindset, that was to do my job, be me, be the best that I can be. And I took over from day one, I felt like. They told me I led the team in PBUs (pass break ups), and also had the most interceptions at the Senior Bowl. So man that just shows you what kind of player i am I’m a competitive player, I do a lot of things and I pride myself on being one of the best DBs here regardless of my size.”
He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the same hometown as receiver Tyler Lockett. Brown said his father went to high school with Lockett’s father, Kevin, and his family and the Lockett’s have stayed in contact through the years.