By Calvin Danger
It’s not often in the NFL you see a player for player trade, but this past offseason produced a doosey. The Buffalo Bills, coming off of another disappointing season, traded a star linebacker to the Philadelphia Eagles and got a star running back in return. Of course I am referring to the Kiko Alonso for Lesean McCoy trade. These two names will get a ton of attention over the course of the season due to their change of teams, but there is one player flying under the radar that will benefit more than most from this trade that no one is talking about. Preston Brown.
Drafted in the 3rd round in 2014 the Buffalo Bills found themselves a steal. Coming out of Louisville Brown was described as a solid all around player but did not have one thing that stood out from his tape. He had good size which he used well at the point of attack but struggled to keep up with running backs in coverage.
At the time some considered the pick a reach, but Brown wasted no time in proving himself. Forced into action after the Alonso injury in training camp, Preston put up a great rookie campaign. He finished as the #3 rookie linebacker behind only CJ Mosley and Telvin Smith and allowed the Bills to feel comfortable in trading away Kiko Alonso.
Preston will also have the benefit of a scheme change going into the 2015 season. Only 4 teams switched their base defenses, Buffalo making the change from a 4-3 to a 3-4. This is usually the kiss of death for inside linebackers. All but the very best ILB’s in the NFL struggle to put up relevant fantasy points on a weekly basis. This is due to the fact that they are often targeted by offensive lineman getting to second level making it tougher to get free up and make tackles. However, Brown gets to play the Will in Rex Ryan’s 3-4.
Taking a look at Rex’s previous protoge, David Harris became a stud within Ryan’s scheme. Since being drafted by the Jets in 2007 Harris had only 1 season with less than 120 tackles, peaking at 151 in 2009 while being the #3 scoring linebacker. He has finished inside the top 12 at the position in 7 out of his 8 seasons playing for Rex Ryan. That is the definition of an LB1. Preston Brown is almost the same exact size, the same measurables, and the same downhill thumper type of player as Harris. He is also set to be a 3 down player for the Bills and there is no reason to believe Brown become at least a solid LB2 option with LB1 upside much like David Harris was in the same defense.