NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When first-round pick Rashaan Evans visited Nashville after being picked by the Titans in the NFL Draft, Jayon Brown was among the players who swung by to welcome him, and say hello.
Later this week, Evans and Harold Landry, another linebacker from the team’s 2018 draft class, will be in town for the team’s rookie minicamp.
“I am looking forward to having those guys on the team and playing with those guys -- it is going to be fun,” Brown said from the Titans Caravan last week. “Everybody in our linebacker group is very talented and those guys are just going to add to the group, and make us better.”
Brown’s focus this offseason, of course, has been on building on his rookie campaign, which was a solid one. And he feels he’s on his way.
A fifth-round pick by the Titans in the 2017 NFL Draft, Brown played in all 16 games as a reserve linebacker in his rookie campaign and posted 67 tackles, 1.5 sacks, six quarterback pressures, two tackles for loss, four passes defensed, a fumble recovery and two special teams tackles.
Brown’s speed made the overall defense faster, and the 6-foot, 226-pounder displayed durability and good technique tackling while playing in subpackages that required him to keep up with running backs and tight ends. During the first part of this offseason he worked in California with other NFL players to improve his skills. Now he’s back in Nashville, working in the team’s offseason program. In his final season at UCLA, Brown led the Bruins with 119 tackles, which tied for 16th on the school’s all-time single-season leaderboard.
“Having a real offseason this year to focus on football and not running 40s and other (drills), it should help,” Brown said. “This offseason is going great, and I am still working to get stronger and faster and better so I can have a successful second year in the NFL, and make the most of it.
“I feel like the offseason has been going good. I went back to California … and it got my body right -- got me stronger, got me quicker, more explosive. Anything that can help me get better on the field.”
Brown has seen plenty of changes from when he walked in the door last spring.
He has a new head coach (Mike Vrabel), a new defensive coordinator (Dean Pees) and a new inside linebackers coach (Tyrone McKenzie).
“But I like the new defense that we’ve put in, the coaching staff,” Brown said. “You can tell these guys really care, and want to win. I feel like it is going to be really good for us this upcoming year. The whole defensive staff and coach Vrabel have done great job teaching us the new defense and the concepts and all that. I feel like it is going to be a really good year for us.
“Dean is a cool guy. I like the schemes that he is putting up for us.
“And coach Vrabel, he’s for sure a guy I look up to – he was a good player and he had a long and successful career in the NFL,” Brown continued. “(Vrabel being a former linebacker) is a great thing because he is going to be tough on everybody on the team, especially us as linebackers because we are supposed to be the leaders of the defense. I think it’s a great thing. He’s a former player so he knows himself.”
With an NFL season under his belt, Brown is ready for more.
He’s looking forward to 2018, and what’s next. With plenty of new faces around him, he wants to make even more of an impact.
“I feel like it was a good rookie year, successful,” Brown said. “But seeing where I was at then, I have so much to improve on and grow on. But I am excited for the season to start because I feel like I can improve so much on what I did last year.”
Titans players take the field for Wednesday's minicamp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones, Gary Glenn)