This season could be the last big season for one of the most dominant and consistent offensive tackles in the NFL. When the 2021 NFL season starts, former Virginia Tech Hokies offensive tackle Duane Brown will be 36-years old and in the last year of his contract with the Seattle Seahawks. This season, however, could be his biggest year in the league.
Journey From Virginia Tech to the NFL So Far
Brown originally came to Virginia Tech as a three-star tight end by 247Sports in the 2003 Recruiting class. He was ranked as the ninth-best prospect from the state of Virginia, 30th best tight end, and 411th best overall player from the 2003 recruiting class. He played the 2003 spring game with some good progression before redshirting. As a redshirt freshman in the 2004 season, Brown played all 13 games for the Hokies as he caught three receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Brown went into the 2005 preseason as the number two tight end but was moved to the right tackle position shortly before the season. This turned out to be the best move for the Hokies as he was a reliable, stout, and highly athletic blocker on the edge of the offensive line. He started all 13 games for the Hokies in the 2005 season. The following season in 2006, he started all the games he played as he was an even more consistent blocker than the previous seasons. Brown was named as a second-team All-ACC selection as a redshirt junior.
In his final season at Virginia Tech, Brown moved to the left tackle position. His dominance to handle the blindside was highly impressive as he was named second-team All-ACC. He was eventually drafted by the Houston Texans in the first round with the 26th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Brown quickly came onto the scene for the Texans as their day one starter. He played and started in all 16 games of his first two seasons in 2008 and 2009. After playing and starting in 12 games in the 2010 season, Brown stepped up his consistency in the 2011 NFL season by not allowing a sack or committing a holding penalty. Brown was named to the second-team All-Pro team that season by the AP but was omitted from the Pro Bowl.
He would finally be named to his first Pro Bowl in the 2012 NFL season after a massive six-year, $53.4 million contract extension in the offseason. The following two seasons, Brown would continue his dominance as a blindside tackle as he was named to the Pro Bowl again in 2013 and 2014. Pro Football Focus gave Brown an overall grade of 84.7 in 2013 and 80.2 in 2014. Two different injuries forced him to miss only four games in the 2016 NFL season as he had minor problems playing through those injuries.
Right before NFL Trade Deadline in 2017, the Texans traded their star tackle and a fifth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a third-round in 2018 and a second-round pick in 2019. He was named to his fourth Pro Bowl that season and his first with Seattle as he only gave up one sack throughout the season. The Seahawks extended Brown to a three-year, $36.5 million contract extension as a move to increase productivity throughout the offensive line. This also made Brown an unquestioned leader of the Seahawks offense.
He was named as a second-team All-Pro selection in the 2018 season as he was graded with an overall grade of 83 by Pro Football Focus. Within the last two seasons at Seattle, Brown has been one of the most consistent blockers and best players of their offense, outside of their quarterback Russell Wilson. Last season, Brown only gave up two sacks and committed two penalties and was graded 87.7 overall by Pro Football Focus.
What to Expect from Duane Brown in 2021
There is a lot of pressure on the offensive line of the Seahawks this upcoming 2021 NFL season. During the offseason, to potentially boost the efficiency of the line’s production, Wilson noted that there should be changes made to the line. It has been no secret that the Seahawks offensive line has been lackluster as they gave up 48 sacks last season (tied for fifth-most in the NFL). Wilson was the third-most sacked quarterback in the league last season (47) just behind Carson Wentz (50) and Deshaun Watson (49).
This lack of overall efficiency is not on Brown as he has been one of the most consistent blockers in the NFL for several seasons. He has accounted for an overall grade of 82.2 by Pro Football Focus since arriving in Seattle during the 2017 NFL season. He is the only player on the offensive line with over 1,000 snaps and graded above 65 by PFF. This is a highly poor performance from the rest of the line.
If Brown were to continue to be stout and highly athletic at the age of 36 while keeping Wilson protected in the pocket, then Seattle would be foolish to get rid of their best blocker. Age can catch up to players especially for tackles having to protect against more faster and aggressive edge rushers. The NFC West is loaded with talented, elite edge rushers with J.J. Watt now with the Arizona Cardinals.
This will be a big year for Brown to show that he has plenty left in the tank at 36-years old. Seattle can’t afford to get rid of their best pass protector but if father time catches up to Brown then Seattle will have major problems. Brown will look to beat his opposing edge rushers, the tenacious NFC West teams, and father time in the 2021 NFL season as Seattle competes for a potential Super Bowl run.