When you play an even front defense, as Denver did until recently, you often look for a squatty, snarling defensive tackle who bathes infrequently and dines on raw meat. That’s your basic nose guard. You want him as large as possible, while still maintaining his footwork.
When you play a Phillips defense, as the Broncos will do again starting in 2015, you tend to focus on footwork, hand-fighting, and quickness. Malcom Brown of Texas can be a monster in any system. It will make him highly sought after in next month's draft.
Whether in Bullough or Phillips odd fronts, along even fronts or hybrid defenses, the 6’2”, 319 lb nose has the skills for the position. He’s very quick for a man of his proportions. Brown works hard at living in opponents’ backfields. He put up 6.5 sacks and 70 tackles (including 13 for loss) in 2014. That’s rare for a defensive lineman.
If you’re the Broncos, you’re heavily focused on finding players who can split gaps, defeat reach blocks, and blow up plays. At its best, that’s what the Phillips defense does. I doubt that Brown will be there at #28, but strange things happen in the draft. If Denver did go with him, I think he’d be a brilliant fit. Denver hopes that Sly Williams matures into just this type of player. They’d be very happy if he does. His slower progress means they may be planning to start Marvin Austin at nose guard this year.
In draft priorities, Denver has to fix their offensive line. They also have Austin coming in at nose guard, while Williams may share time with Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson on the outside. Austin is 312 lb, while Brown is 319 lb. It would be a tough call between, say, a good offensive lineman and a nose guard like Brown. He’s that good. The call would likely depend upon whether Denver believes a quality offensive lineman would be available at their next slot.
As always, though, it will come down to who’s left when they pick, and how they grade them.