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Sydney Brown is a special teams ace

Hogs Haven takes a look at 2023 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Commanders

Wisconsin v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Sydney Brown, S/ST
School: Illinois | Conference: BIG 10
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 5’10” / 205 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Rounds 2-3

Player Comp: Talanoa Hufanga

College Statistics

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
2018 Illinois Big Ten FR DB 9 25 30 55 2.0 0.0 1 2 2.0 0 5 0 0
*2019 Illinois Big Ten SO DB 11 51 37 88 2.5 0.0 3 84 28.0 1 1 0 0
2020 Illinois Big Ten JR DB 6 20 16 36 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2021 Illinois Big Ten JR DB 12 50 31 81 1.5 1.0 0 0 0 3 0 2
*2022 Illinois Big Ten SR DB 12 41 19 60 3.5 1.0 6 86 14.3 1 7 1 53 1 1
Career Illinois 187 133 320 10.0 2.0 10 172 17.2 2 16 1 53 1 4
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/12/2023.

Player Overview

Brown was a 5-year starter at Illinois, and has professional football in his bloodstream. His father, Darren Isaac, played in the CFL for 3 years, and his twin brother, Chase, is also targeting the NFL as a running back. Brown was a two-time All Big Ten selection, collecting 262 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 13 pass break ups.

The path to Illinois, however, was a circuitous one. Raised by their single mother and barely able to maintain the academic standards to play football in high school, they were living in a homeless shelter after their sophomore years when they were connected to a recruiter for IMG Academy in Florida, a private school that specializes in grooming top athletes for college. The boys were accepted and spent two years living with a host family, sending their lives on a completely different trajectory. Sydney offered, “What we thought success was completely changed when we moved in with them. We were never exposed to that side of society, and really understood the potential that life can bring, if you go to school, if you get your s--- done, if you develop a proper work ethic, if you’re an efficient person in society. It was such a big flip. We learned so much about how we don’t want to go back.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been around a player wired like him,” Henry said of Sydney. “Every day, he leaves the practice field, he has a 20-minute stretch routine. He has a 20-minute stretch routine he does right before he goes to bed. Then he eats the same thing for breakfast. It’s almost like OCD. He probably could have been a really good MMA fighter, just the way he approaches life and the way he approaches this game.” - Aaron Henry, Illinois’ DB Coach


  • Primarily plays as a box safety, but can line up in the slot and even outside. Could be buffalo nickel in Washington’s defense.
  • Able to match up well on tight ends.
  • Has a high football IQ and understands zone defense well.
  • Five years of college experience, and is still relatively young.
  • Short area quickness is one of his hallmarks.
  • Considered one of the best special teamers in the draft.


  • Can be too aggressive at times.
  • Could be a bit undersized in the pros.
  • May not have the speed to play slot at the next level.
  • Hip tightness affects his ability to make sharp breaks.

Let’s See His Work

How He Would Fit

For the first time in ages, Washington is actually fairly deep at safety. Both Kam Curl and Darrick Forrest looked great last year, and with Percy Butler and Jeremy Reaves (assuming he is re-signed) available in relief, the team looks well-situated moving forward. But what if the team doesn’t want to spend around $14M/AAV or so locking up Curl at the end of next year?

In that case, a guy like Brown might make a ton of sense. Give him a year to understudy with Curl and then elevate him into a starting role in 2024 if he looks capable. In the meantime, he’s an instant contributor on special teams.


Would you be interested in seeing Washington draft Brown on Day 2?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Yes, in the second.
    (11 votes)
  • 42%
    Yes, in the third.
    (72 votes)
  • 51%
    No, I’m not interested.
    (88 votes)
171 votes total Vote Now