Illinois senior linebacker Jonathan Brown is known for controversy. Perhaps this fall his play will overshadow that. On Thursday, Jonathan Brown was named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented to the national defensive player of the year.
It marks Brown’s second preseason watch list, as he was named to the Bednarik Award defensive player of the year. Jonathan Brown was also named preseason first-team All-Big Ten.
Brown probably would have declared this year for the NFL Draft and been a round 2-3 prospect had he stayed healthy. I predict he’ll heal and he’ll dominate the Big Ten in the fall. There are some character concerns though. He did get suspended for kneeing a Northwestern OL in the groin in the middle of a 2011 game. Watch the video here. And the cheap shot/act of unwarranted aggression cost him the opportunity to play the next week versus the Indiana Hoosiers.
Maybe the New England Patriots are the perfect place for Jonathan Brown. Obviously, New England ignores “character concerns” when signing/drafting players. And the Patriots “reached” in drafting an Illini defender before. Tavon Wilson was a 2nd round pick by New England in 2012, and I did not see that coming. He was not a second rounder on anyone’s radar.
At the 2011 spring game, then Illini Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning was asked by a reporter if Jonathan Brown could be a star for him on D.
Jonathan Brown was a Butkus Award semifinalist and honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2012 despite missing the final three games of the season with a shoulder injury and missing significant portions of four other games due to injury. Brown was leading the Illini with 59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks before having his season cut short. He had a breakout 2011 season, earning All-Big Ten honors with 108 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He ranked sixth in the nation in TFLs per game (1.63) and led the Big Ten in TFLs per game during conference play (2.07).