When Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco selected Jatavis Brown in the fifth round of the NFL Draft last May, it was reported that several friends from around the league sent Telesco text messages congratulating him on a great pick. After impressing coaches during training camp, Brown became the third down specialist in passing situations in weeks one and two. When Manti Te’o went down to a season-ending achilles injury in week three against the Colts, Brown became the starter — and quickly showed why those texts were sent.
In the nationally-televised Thursday night game against the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos, Brown was voted NFL PEPSI Rookie of the Week after posting 14 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in the Chargers 23-13 victory in week 6. The following week Brown was presented a game ball for his inspirational performance in a 33-30 win over the Atlanta Falcons — Brown played every defensive snap despite the death of his father just two days prior to the game. As the Chargers returned from their much-needed bye week, Brown sat down with MP reporter Art Garcia Jr. to answer a few questions.
Art Garcia: You have made quite an impact as a rookie. Are you surprised at all with the success you have had so far?
Jatavis Brown: I just think the coaches and everybody has done a good job of getting me prepared for this season, but I kind of expected it (his impact).
AG: What were your goals coming in as a rookie?
JB: I just wanted to come and help the team win.
AG: Entering the draft, many scouts regarded you as a “tweener” — they weren’t sure if you were big enough to play inside linebacker so they projected you as a safety, what do you feel you bring to the team?
JB: I would say my desire and my love for the game … my passion and my effort is probably my strengths.
AG: Has anything in the NFL come as a surprise to you?
JB: Not really because I knew everybody is good in the NFL, so nothing has really surprised me.
AG: With that being said, what has been the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make coming from Akron to the NFL?
JB: I think learning the terminology, the speed of the game and learning our defense.
AG: You were drafted in the fifth round out of Akron, with all the “experts” projecting you to go in that round. Did you expect to be drafted earlier, or was that where you thought you might be selected?
JB: Of course I was expecting to be drafted in the higher rounds, who doesn’t? But it is what it is, and I’m just happy to be here.
AG: Did the fact that you were not drafted higher give you more incentive to prove the scouts wrong … maybe put a chip on your shoulder?
JB: Oh yeah, always — it just added to that chip on the shoulder that I already had.
AG: This team has lost a lot of close games this year, what is going to be the key to turn this team around to finish the season strong?
JB: Just playing together as one, we just have to know that it is all about us. This is all about us — that’s all we got.
The Endzone: As a senior, Brown led his high school, Belle Glade High in Belle Glades, Fla., to an undefeated season — including five shutouts. Despite being named Defensive Player of the Year, not many colleges came calling, which is why he ended up in the Mid-American Conference at Akron.
“I had one Division I offer and a couple Division II offers,” Brown said. “I wasn’t recruited heavily out of high school. Akron was the best offer I had at the time and I loved the coaches there.”
In addition to being named the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2015, Brown was a three-time first-team MAC performer. Voted a team captain as a senior, he set school records at Akron for career tackles for loss (41.5) and season tackles for loss (20) and sacks (12). In 2012 Brown played as a true freshman and finished his collegiate career with 345 tackles, 18 sacks, 41.5 tackles for loss, 10 forced fumbles and an interception.
Having missed the last four games due to a knee injury, look for Brown to return to the starting lineup this Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town. Through the eight games he has played this season, Brown has posted 54 tackles (team leader prior to the Houston Texans game), 43 solo, 11 assists, three sacks and two forced fumbles.