The situation is a familiar one for Jatavis Brown.
It is also one proven to bring out the best in him.
The majority of talk around the Chargers draft revolved around Joey Bosa and Hunter Henry, which is typical for any team’s top two draft picks. Many also wanted to know about Derek Watt and Drew Kaser, as few fullbacks and punters get selected each season, as well as players from power conferences such as USC’s Max Tuerk, Ohio State’s Joshua Perry and Michigan State’s Donavon Clark.
As a result, Brown knows you likely hadn’t heard his name before the Chargers selected him 175th overall in the fifth round of the NFL draft. That doesn’t faze the 5-11, 221-pound linebacker out of Akron one bit. All he cares about is making an impact.
“I do think I’m flying under the radar, but I’ve been flying under the radar my whole life,” he said. “I guess that’s just me. I like to prove people wrong, and that’s how I (operate). I don’t like the spotlight. I’m a laid back, chill guy. So this fits me just fine. I like to do all the dirty work, do what I’m supposed to do and I don’t worry about getting the publicity.”
Playing at Akron, Brown flew under the public’s mainstream radar throughout the draft process. The 2015 MAC Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time first-team All-MAC pick, he rewrote the Zips’ record books last year, setting new marks with 20 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He also holds the school record with 41.5 career tackles for loss.
An exceptional athlete, the Bolts plan to maximize Brown’s speed and athleticism by showcasing his versatility. However, at the moment, he is busy learning the nuances at inside linebacker. Ironically, the player who flew under the radar during the scouting process now spends most of his time studying a teammate who was the most well-known prospect when he entered the 2012 NFL Draft.
“I am constantly watching (Manti) Te’o. I am watching him every play. Manti is smart. He calls out plays and knows what the offense is doing before they even run it. So I’m trying to learn as much as possible from him.”
Brown may not have played in a power conference or from a school that churns out numerous draft choices per year, but he more than made a name for himself in NFL circles. Even though he lasted until the fifth round, General Manager Tom Telesco said Brown’s selection was one that received high praise throughout the league.
“This is the one guy in our draft room that if we didn’t draft, I think there would have been a revolt amongst everyone else in the room,” the GM said after the draft. “There are certain guys sometimes that have a trigger for everybody. (Brown) was a guy who everybody wanted on our football team. He’s actually the one guy that (we got) so many different texts from across the league (about) saying ‘Great pick!’ ‘Good pick!’ Those are kind of fun text messages to get during the draft.”
The adjustment to the NFL has been a smooth one for Brown, who doesn’t care if he is playing at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field on Akron’s campus or lining up across from Philip Rivers at Chargers Park. He loves the game of football, and is eager to make his mark when his number is called.
“This first month has been amazing. I’m enjoying this whole thing. It’s a dream come true to play in the NFL, but I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming at all. Learning the whole playbook has been the biggest thing. I’m the kind of guy who wants to know what everybody is doing so I can be my best. So that’s been the biggest thing. And special teams, too. I love playing special teams, so I am just going to try to do whatever I can do to help this team win a Super Bowl.”