New England Patriots 2017 player outlook: Malcom Brown

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Malcom Brown
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Malcom Brown /

New England Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown is entering his third season in the NFL.  Will this be the year he breaks out as a defensive star?

When it comes to potential breakout stars in 2017, the New England Patriots are hopeful defensive lineman Malcom Brown will be one of those players.

At 6-foot-2, 319 pounds, Brown has the tools to become a powerful force along the defensive line.  Although he did show signs of it during his sophomore season in the NFL, he did battle with inconsistency and during a stretch of the season fell in the depth chart behind rookie Vincent Valentine.

The former Texas Longhorns standout did showcase durability in playing in all 16 regular season games.  In those 16 games, he had a total of 24 tackles, recorded 3.0 sacks and forced a fumble.  The 22-year-old defensive tackle did show signs of becoming the next Vince Wilfork, but his inconsistency led to his benching in a late December game against the New York Jets.

GLENDALE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 11: Defensive tackle Malcom Brown
GLENDALE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 11: Defensive tackle Malcom Brown /

At the time, head coach Bill Belichick applauded the progress of Valentine, while hinting that Brown wasn’t exactly living up to his capabilities.

"“Malcolm had some good moments.  We’re just looking really for more consistency there,” Belichick said in December, via The Providence Journal.  “[Alan] Branch has been by far our most consistent defensive tackle.  The other guys can shoot to get up to his level.”"

Following the benching, Malcom Brown did bounce back to contribute nicely in the middle of the defensive line.  Along with Branch and Valentine, Brown helped solidify the Patriots defensive front throughout the postseason.

Related Story: Malcom Brown, Alan Branch Getting it Done

Top highlights of 2016

Week vs. Baltimore Ravens – Brown destroys running back Kenneth Dixon for a safety

 Malcom Brown showed his force and power on a Monday night in December.  With the Baltimore Ravens pinned on their own 1-yard line, Brown powered his way through the Ravens offensive line to pummel Dixon in the end zone for a safety.

The defensive play gave the Patriots an early 2-0 lead and set the tone and physicality of the entire game.

Outlook for 2017

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With the New England Patriots thin at the edge rusher position, Malcom Brown will get the opportunity to play at different spots along the line.  He’ll get an opportunity to clog up the middle as well as rush the passer.

Brown will also have an opportunity to become a leader.  Although veterans Alan Branch and newcomer Lawrence Guy will take on leadership roles, the younger Brown can relate more to young players like rookie Deatrich Wise Jr., and the other young defensive line players who make the 53-man roster.

Prior to the team’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brown talked about that leadership potential and said he’s ready for the role.

"“I’m just trying to help out wherever I can,” Brown said, as transcribed by the Patriots Ledger.  “Whenever someone needs something and comes and asks me.  If they look at me for leadership, that’s cool, but I just try to help out wherever I can and try to shine a light on some of the things they might not know and I know.  So anything to help them out.”"

Next: New England Patriots 2017 player outlook: Dion Lewis

Brown also recognized that he has some growth to do himself.  If he stays focused, committed and find that consistency Belichick is looking for, he will have a big year on a team searching for defensive line stars.