Donald Brown v. LeSean McCoy - YOU DECIDE 2009

One of the most discussed and debated positions in the draft for the Colts this year is RB.  Most people have narrowed down their 1st Round RB prospect list to only Knowshon Moreno but a large majority of that same group are convinced that he won’t drop all the way down to the 27th pick.  As a result, Colts fans have been looking for 2nd and 3rd Round guys who might be great players at the RB position and too good to pass up as a tandem back with Addai.  What has not been discussed a great deal is RBs who just may drop all the way down to the 61st pick in the draft and which of those two players we would strongly consider taking, even before the ever popular Rashad Jennings and Andre Brown.  Both Donald Brown and LeSean McCoy, while having BPA ratings which indicate they are gone before we pick in the 2nd Round, COULD slip that far.  There are so many talented players at the "top-end" of other positions and so many teams who could use something other than RB early in the draft, one or both of these guys could fall right into the Colts lap.  If both are available in the late 2nd Round, who should the Colts target with the 61st pick?  Assume all the other players you’d like in the 2nd are not available.

Donald Brown – Connecticut

2008 Highlights v. Virginia
2008 Highlights v. Buffalo
Draft Vignette
Combine Video

5’10", 210 lbs.
4.46 40 Yard Dash, 4.10 20 Yard Shuttle, 6.93 3-Cone Drill
41.5 Inch Vertical Jump


367 Rushes, 2083 Rushing Yards, 18 TDs (5.7 Yds./Avg.)
21 Receptions, 125 Yards (6.0 Yds./Avg.)


2007: Suffered a left ankle/foot sprain vs. Akron (9/29)...Forced to wear a protective boot for two weeks, sitting out the next game vs. Virginia (10/13).


Strengths:  Compact build. Runs with a low center of gravity. Good speed to and through the hole. Best attributes might be his vision and stop-and-start ability. Shifty runner who can slide in and out of the hole at the point of attack and hit the seam before it really opens. Deceptively fast once he gets to the second level. Good balance to appear to lean one way to deceive the oncoming safety, only to bounce the other. At least adequate straight-line speed to gain yardage in chunks. Soft hands out of the backfield and an alert receiver. High effort player.


Well rounded ball carrier with a versatile game. Displays outstanding vision, ball carrying instincts and patience. Waits for blocks to develop, immediately finds the running lanes and displays terrific open field running skills. Creates his own yardage, makes defenders miss and displays terrific footwork with the ability to sidestep or avoid piles. Runs with a compact style, outstanding balance, body control and tough to knock off his feet. Flashes power on the inside with the ability to break several tackles and pick up yardage off initial contact. Effectively uses a straight arm to keep plays alive and shows the ability to pick up the tough yardage. Easily turns the corner, cuts back against the grain and loses little momentum when he must immediately alter his running angle. Solid pass catcher out of the backfield.

Donald Brown brings everything you would want in a Colts RB.  He displays excellent vision, which is noticeable on film, and does not waste time finding the hole and getting through it.  Once through the hole he assesses the field in front of him and wastes no time changing direction when he needs to for extra yardage.  Once he makes a couple of moves at the second level he has a noticeable burst to break longer runs and force defenders to chase him down.  He may not run away from every defender but he chooses the right angles to pick up chunks of yards before defenders can catch him.  He is a solid pass-catcher and alert to be a reliable release for the QB when he faces pressure.

Weaknesses:   A bit narrow in his shoulders and might lack the frame to add much weight. Might lack the bulk and leg drive to be a true bell-cow runner at the NFL level. Lacks elite speed to breakaway from NFL defenders. Marginal size and strength as a pass blocker. Struggles of past Connecticut backs to translate their collegiate success to the NFL will force some teams to pause on draft day, especially considering the role left tackle William Beatty -- himself a first-day prospect -- had on Brown's success.


Never really carried the load until his junior season. May not have the size or ability to be used as a short yardage runner in the NFL.

It would seem that Donald Brown has little by way of "weaknesses."  The list in the analysis above includes, he had a 1st Round prospect tackle on his offensive line, now there’s a weakness to be concerned about.  Past RBs out of his school did not translate well to the NFL, and this has what to do with Donald Brown?  He lacks elite speed to break away.  Alright, so he might not be Adrian Peterson or a handful of other backs like Darren Sproles who will be "gone" once they break past the last defender but it would seem a relatively palatable weakness.  We’re not looking for a "bell-cow" runner, we’re looking for part 1 or 2 of a RB tandem so that weakness isn’t a great concern.  Never really carrying the load until his Junior year, to me, would suggest he has a lot of miles left on his tires.  I would rather that be the case than someone who carried the load for four years who people worry won’t have career longevity in the NFL.  He’s not a 3rd down back, because he won’t push defenders for short yardage.  Yet, we already know that he can make the most of tight running lanes has excellent vision.  Lastly, he’s not a big guy so might not be able to block well against defenders much larger than he.  Sounds like a concern nearly all RBs have as they enter the NFL.


Dave-Te’ Thomas Biographical Information

Body Structure: Has a compact frame with good chest definition, but slight shoulders. Has better lower-body thickness than on top. Has decent arm-muscle tone, big thighs, thick calves and the athleticism to make up for a lack of ideal speed or strength.

Athletic Ability: Needs to add more bulk to his frame, but might be at maximum growth potential. Not exceptionally fast or strong and has adequate shoulder definition, but compensates with good balance, body control and loose hips. Has a quick short-area burst and good footwork, doing a nice job of shifting his weight and staying low in his pads to slip through traffic into the second level. Generates good body lean, moves and fakes to con the defender and is very effective using his outstanding change-of-direction agility. In isolated coverage, he will generally win the foot race vs. second-level defenders. Has swivel hips, rather than veer and weave, doing a nice job of picking and sliding trying to find daylight.

Football Sense: Has excellent peripheral vision and good football awareness. Needs only normal reps to retain, as he's instinctive and really prepares for the game. Does well in school and will not have problems digesting a complicated playbook. The thing you see on film is the way he can adjust to coverage and pick and slide, showing very good patience following his blockers.

Character: A solid, humble person who is not the one to "beat his chest" over his on-field accomplishments. Off the field, he is a solid citizen with no off-field issues and has even started a mentoring program for high school athletes back in his hometown. Even when he lost his starting job as a sophomore through injury, and not from poor performance, he did whatever he could to help the new starter adjust. Sets a very good example in practice and in games. Very responsible and well-liked by teammates. Also the type that conducts himself very well in interviews.

Competitiveness: An outstanding competitor, very tough and the type that will play with nagging injuries rather than rest on the sidelines. A quick healer and the type that gives total effort throughout the game, along with delivering very good production. Not really an explosive runner, but he is a tough one between the tackles, even though he lacks ideal strength. Might dance around too much in the backfield, but is not the type that tends to run out of bounds, and is more apt to fight for yardage than take the "easy" way out.

Work Habits: Demonstrates an excellent work ethic, year-round. Body could use more bulk and power, but he is a hard worker in the offseason. He is a self-motivated leader, coachable and always on time for his scheduled workout sessions.


Initial Quickness: Not the type to generate an explosive and sudden burst into the crease, but he has that low center of gravity that remind old-time scouts of former Jets tailback Freeman McNeil. Has outstanding vision and stop-and-go action to freeze the defender and is a slippery runner through the holes. Might not be able to simply fly past an opponent, but can quickly pick and slide through trash and is a fast-twitched type who has no problem negotiating through even the tiniest of creases.

Acceleration/Burst: When he runs low in his pads, he has no problems separating from defenders and while he lacks blazing speed, his stride and acceleration will see him take the ball to the house. He shows both burst and acceleration, changing angles sharply to find daylight and can quickly gain advantage over the defender.

Instincts/Balance: Has excellent change-of-direction agility and body control. Very effective when taking the pitch and having time to scan the field. The type that can create quite a bit on his own, but also is patient following his blocks. Does a very good job of adjusting on the move and with his shiftiness in and out of his cuts, can get past the second level consistently. Good lower-body strength (just adequate upper body) to break tackles and it is rare to see him go down on the initial hit.

Inside Running: Has that short-area burst to make defenders miss and stays low in his pads to attack and move the pile. Very conscious of ball security and has the forward body lean to gain positive yardage squeezing through tight quarters. Very sudden to cut back, displaying above-average vision and pick-and-slide agility. Will gain yardage between tackles, as he quickly sees the crease, but is best when having room to move and slide. With his balance and ability to keep his feet, along with his vision, he can find the seams quickly.

Outside Running: Bounces outside with good urgency. Has superb outside vision and can get to his top-end speed to take the ball to the house turning the corner. Moves well as an option running back, where he is able to capitalize on his balance and foot work. Has a very good feel for the cutback lanes, getting the bulk of his yardage when doing so. Might not have the timed speed to beat secondary defenders, but takes good angles and shows the head and shoulder fakes to take those opponents out of the play. With his body control, he excels at turning it up with his outside run.

Elusiveness: Has good shake-and-bake moves, very loose hips and a darting style that gets him into the second level. Shows very good awareness to adjust on the move and good acceleration out of his cuts. What is puzzling is that he tends to dance quite a bit, running east-to-west instead of north-to-south in the backfield, looking for that perfect hole to attack. That led to him getting taken down 38 times behind the line of scrimmage, and 22 other times he was stopped for no yardage (16.35% of his carries led to no gains in 2008; 60 of 367 attempts).

Tackle-Breaking Strength: Can move the pile when he stays low in his pads, using his strong lower body and compact build to run through arm tackles. Not really a pile mover running inside because of strength issues, as he is best when he utilizes his moves and quickness to break free. Does appear stronger when attacking the secondary, though.

Tendency to Fumble: Brown does a good job of protecting the ball, having just five fumbles on 698 carries (0.72%).

Receiving Skills: Brown has limited production as a receiver, but shows good hands in the minimal times he gets to catch the pigskin.

Route Running: Brown is used mostly on short rounded, screens and flats. He is also alert to coverage and does a nice job of getting proper position on screens.

Blocking Ability: Brown is an adequate blocker, but limited. He's a decent cut blocker who will try to face up and strike, but he does not stone defenders.

Compares To: TIKI BARBER, ex-New York Giants -- Brown has done everything he could to pattern his game after Barber's. Neither were known as power backs, but both had the leg drive to break tackles. Brown has excellent balance and runs with that low center of gravity to get good yardage slipping through the second level. He runs with good body lean and, even though the Connecticut system did not throw to their backs much, he could be a nice safety valve target coming out of the backfield.

 The biggest concern about Donald Brown is all of the runs he took for losses and no gain because he ran so much east-to-west.  If he regularly has that problem for the Colts, some may feel he’ll be too similar to Addai as a runner.  One thing fans are looking for is a more north-south power runner to change pace from Addai’s shifty style.  However, it would seem that he excels in finding the seem, does well reaching the edges and has excellent vision.  Perhaps those attributes will help him make up for the tendency to run east-to-west.  It is something that should be considered in his analysis.


LeSean McCoy – Pittsburgh

Draft Vignette

2008 Season Highlights Pt. 1
2008 Season Highlights Pt. 2

5’11", 204 lbs.
4.50 40 Yard Dash, 4.18 20 Yard Shuttle, 6.82 3-Cone Drill
29 Inch Vertical Jump, 17 Bench Reps

308 Rushes, 1488 Yards, 21 TDs (4.8 Yds./Avg.)
32 Receptions, 305 Yards (9.5 Yds./Avg.)

2005: Suffered a right ankle compound fracture early during his high school senior season, missing the final eight games.
2009: Could not perform at the NFL Combine due to a bout with the flu.


Strengths: Fast enough to get the corner and owns a second and third gear in the secondary. Excellent inside quickness, hitting the hole in a hurry when in the one-back set. Gets to top speed as quickly as any back in the country. Special vision for the cutback and in traffic. Plants his foot and accelerates. Very elusive in space, with shifty hips and an ability to juke or shake off a defender. Maintains his balance well after making a move or running through arm tackles on the outside. Runs with a lean inside, will bounce off tackles and keep his legs moving. Patient enough to allow blocks to develop on stretch plays to the outside. Very natural hands as a receiver; will excel on swing and screen passes. Uses his quick feet to run crisp out routes. Ultra-competitive; works hard in the film and weight rooms. Wants the ball on every play.


Talented ball carrier with the ability to elude defenders and create his own yardage. Plays with good balance, body control, and displays terrific open field running skills. Quick footed, makes defenders miss, or will pick his way on the inside. Strings several moves together in a single run and uses all his blocks. Possesses the speed and agility to turn the corner, very elusive and squirts through the small openings of the defense. Possesses soft hands as a pass catcher, and picks up yardage running after the reception. Keeps the play in bounds, working to pick up positive yardage until the whistle blows.

LeSean McCoy, in my opinion, is the shiftiest, quickest, fastest of the backs in this draft.  He is Knowshon Moreno, only faster.  He is only 5’9", making him something of a Darren Sproles.  Like Brown, McCoy is not a pile mover, so to speak, but is quick enough and slippery enough to get through small cracks.  What is most noticeable to me about McCoy is that he gets to top speed with lightning quickness.  The moment he touches the ball it seems he’s off to the races.  He has the balance, vision, and patience on the field to be a big-play threat every time he touches the ball (similar to Sproles).  He isn’t afraid to wait for blocks or to call for blocks as he’s running down the field.  He cuts quickly and gracefully, allowing him to maintain his speed.  One the second level he is almost unstoppable.  A faster/quicker version of Kory Sheets perhaps (without the tested ST experience).

Weaknesses: Doesn't have great size or the compact strength of elite backs. Must prove he can get the tough yard and not dance to try and break a big play when it's not there. Invites turnovers by running with the ball very loosely. Doesn't always switch the ball to the outside hand. Runs out of control at times. Some of those cutbacks will not work against the speed of NFL defenses. A liability in pass protection, throwing a shoulder instead of moving his feet to take on or even just get in the way of a rusher. Whiffs on his cut blocks against blitzing linebackers.


Not a strong back who picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact. Lacks great speed in the open field. May not be large enough to handle the role of featured runner at the next level.

Lacks great speed in the open field?  Umm…. Okay.  You watch the tape and decide for yourself.  The big concerns about McCoy, and I believe these are what has dropped him out of 1st Round consideration by most, is his inability to block effectively, change-of-direction running style potentially causing some no gains and losses against NFL size and speed, and loose running style which could lead to turnovers.  The problems with McCoy’s weaknesses from what I can gather, and from what can be seen on tape, is that his strengths are REALLY strong and his weaknesses are REALLY weak.  Could be a boom/bust type of player but as a young guy, he would have extra time to develop and only has 2 seasons worth of very productive mileage on his body.


Dave-Te’ Thomas Biographical Information

Body Structure: Adequate frame, built more in the lines of a receiver, but does play with deceptive strength. Fairly lean and could probably add another 20 pounds of bulk (played at 210 as a sophomore). Tapered muscles and a compact torso, but adequate thighs and small, high calves.

Athletic Ability: Timed speed is good.  McCoy displays game-breaking quickness and the ability to consistently make defenders miss in space. Natural hands and good receiving skills and has been an impact player for Pitt, thanks to his acceleration, burst and excellent vision. Outstanding body control and hip swivel, evident when he plants his foot and cuts in an instant. Will outrun his protection but he has that stop-and-go action that leaves defenders grabbing at air.

Football Sense: Good field instincts, but needs more than several reps to retain. A prep school entry due to academics, but has that natural feel to make exciting things happen on the football field. A much quicker study on the field than in the classroom, especially with his natural run instincts, as you never see any hesitation in his play.

Character: A quiet sort who does let bad plays linger longer than they should, more the product of his youth than a lack of self-confidence. His brother, LeRon, was a receiver with Arizona, the 49ers and Houston. No off-field issue.

Competitiveness: Great run instincts and vision to see and scan the field. More of a finesse-type rather than a power runner, even though he can break tackles consistently. High pain tolerance.  He will never shy away from inside traffic.

Work Habits: Will never be captain material, but he is a hard worker, whether in practices, the training room or in the film room. Good blue-collar work ethic and is physically tough (mental toughness is inconsistent). Not very vocal, but he never misses a team function (practices, training, etc.).


Initial Quickness: Faster than "Speedy Gonzalez" when turning the corner. Attacks the inside creases with tremendous explosion, getting to top speed in an instant. Gets a solid jump and some of the best movement on the ball than any other runner in this draft crop. Takes him just a step or two to reach top speed and he has that fluid hip wiggle to make defenders miss in space.

Acceleration/Burst: Comes out of his stance with excellent explosion. Has that short, pitter-patter step style to slip through and avoid traffic, doing a great job of planting and redirecting on a dime. A very quick darter in space and has good success moving the chains, whether turning the corner or running between tackles. Can burst through the hole and accelerate and separate once he gets into the open.

Instincts/Balance: Has developed into a top-flight slippery open-field runner. Has above-average run instincts, especially with his effectiveness trying to slide and dart through the crowd. Has natural anticipation for rushing lanes, seeing creases and defenders to instinctively burst and elude.

Inside Running: A lot of "Warrick Dunn" in him, as he will lower his pads, sink his weight and square his shoulders to drive up the gut. Does a good job of planting and driving, showing the body lean to bounce off tackles and escape the crowd. Rare to see him stop his feet on contact and he has that uncanny ability to jump cut and power through the small creases. Can hit the seams in an instant.

Outside Running: Does not toss on the "afterburners" turning the edge as he does when breaking to daylight from an inside hole. Has that short-area burst to get outside, but does get into ball-security problems, as when he accelerates, he tosses his arms around wildly and keeps the ball loose, leading to costly fumbles. Has the speed to go the distance, but it is strange that he gets run down a bit more when bouncing wide to race down the sidelines.

Elusiveness: Gets a lot of space to pull away from the defender, thanks to his lateral slide and dart ability. Generates explosive acceleration out of his cuts and has the vision, quick change-of-direction agility and burst to consistently make the first defender miss. Much more than just a one-cut runner, but his speed does vary going long distances and he can be caught from behind on long runs.

Tackle-Breaking Strength: Never going to be a pile mover, but he does have deceptive strength, mostly from his lower body. Can uncoil on contact and flashes that low pad level to navigate through traffic, but is best when he has space in order to be more effective. When he squares his shoulders, maintains balance and drives with his legs, he will break a fair share of tackles and with his body lean, he does a decent job of falling forward.

Tendency to Fumble: Not fumble prone, but will cough up the ball more on outside runs than when working between tackles. Needs to protect the ball and keep it closer to his frame when racing around the edge. Must learn how to carry the ball in either arm (more right-side dominant), but does secure the ball better when operating in traffic.

Receiving Skills: A natural hands catcher who could become a nice weapon lined wide or in the slot in a multiple receiver formation. Does a good job of extending and plucking the ball outside his frame and shows good hand/eye coordination to take the screen, turn and head upfield without breaking stride. Not used much on deep routes, but with his hip snap and body torso, he appears capable of getting adjusted to get to the ball over his outside shoulder. Shows good hand placement and leaping ability to high point the throws and the field awareness to get into position to make the play.

Route Running: Used mostly on controlled routes, so it is hard to evaluate his long-ball stride and adjustment ability, but he appears very comfortable catching the ball chest-high or over his shoulders. Shows no drift in his patterns and he has the playing speed to stretch the field and go vertical. Quick to plant and accelerate coming out of his breaks. Still, he has been relegated to flares and screens mostly (simple routes).

Blocking Ability: A better blocker in space, thanks to his angle concept. Not a contact seeker at the line of scrimmage. Still a bit soft in blitz pick-up and needs to do a better job of facing up with aggression. Cuts effectively, but has to do a better job of taking on the pass rush and squaring to the target.

Compares To: WARRICK DUNN, ex-Tampa Bay -- Some scouts liken McCoy to Pittsburgh's Willie Parker, but he doesn't have the same patience in following blocks or the outside running skills the Steelers tailback brings to the table. McCoy is bigger than Dunn, but both have made a nice living off exploding through holes between the tackles. Both are also very effective as receivers coming out of the backfield. His acceleration is in the category with Dallas' Felix Jones, but he lacks the deceptive power the Cowboy possesses.

A few other things that stick out about McCoy which are concerning are the following; intelligence, ball security, and weakness running the ball outside.  While it can be said that having a runner with more skill running between the tackles would be nice (and it would), McCoy is not a pile pushing power back who can generate 4-5 yards a pop on the inside but instead is a versatile smallish back who uses his quickness, burst, explosion, and elusiveness to gain yards.  As a result, one would hope that he could run the ball outside as well.  There are a few backs in the league which are small and rely on vision and quickness to be effective in between the tackles but size certainly does help.  Still, a Warrick Dunn (if he could ever be that good), would be a steal in the late 2nd Round.



Donald Brown and LeSean McCoy bring an awful lot of ability to the RB position.  Tiki Barber v. Warrick Dunn is a tough comparison to make… and flattering to both backs.  Brown is a better outside runner while McCoy is probably a better inside runner.  Both backs are patient, quick, slippery, and can get through small creases… but neither back is a bruising pile-mover who will necessarily excel at picking up the short yardage.  Brown reminds me a lot of a faster version of Mike Hart, while McCoy reminds me of a Darren Sproles (although he may not have his straight-line speed).  I know that many of you are intent on getting a larger, pile-pushing, RB but by any standard these two backs are higher on any BPA list than Jennings or Brown.  So, if both players fall to pick 61 in the 2nd Round, who do you choose?




This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Stampede Blue

You must be a member of Stampede Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Stampede Blue. You should read them.

Join Stampede Blue

You must be a member of Stampede Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Stampede Blue. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.