Allen Park — Auburn's Derrick Brown is going to be one of the top prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft. Arguably the best interior defensive lineman in this class, he's coming off a dominant senior season that has sent him rocketing to the top of the draft boards for many analysts.
And, with the way things are lining up, there's a reasonable shot Brown could end up in Detroit. The Lions are currently scheduled to select fifth in the first round, all but guaranteed to pick in the top 10, and defensive tackle is setting up as a significant need based on the impending free agent status of A'Shawn Robinson and Mike Daniels.
If Brown lands in Detroit, he'd be reunited with former teammate Kerryon Johnson. That would give the team a second Tiger on a roster that, at times, has probably has felt overrun with Alabama alumni to the young running back.
"Hey, I am all for that," Johnson said. "He's a good, fantastic player. I'm all for that. I just want as many Auburn guys on the team that we can have."
Johnson's scouting report of his former college teammate isn't reflective of how he initially felt about Brown. In fact, the running back was kind of a bully when the defensive lineman landed on campus a year after Johnson.
"Me and Derrick used to hate each other, believe it or not," Johnson said with a laugh. "I was pretty rude to Derrick when he first got there. Called him 'Brownie' because he was all baby fat and just soft as (crap)."
Brown didn't do much as a freshman at the school, recording 11 tackles in eight games, but started coming into his own as a sophomore in 2017, the last year he played with Johnson. Over the past two seasons, Brown's performance has skyrocketed to the point where he's expected to be a top-10 pick this year.
Johnson quickly realized, beyond the doughy exterior, Brown was strong. As for the continued development, Johnson respects and appreciates the defender's transformation.
"I'll tell you now, man, I'm not getting hit by Derrick," Johnson said. "I'm not going to play Derrick. He has become an outstanding player. He's always been a good guy, despite the rudeness I was to him. He's even gotten better
"When he came back, everybody questioned, like, you know, 'What are you doing?' He came back to finish something he started, and he finished it. He got better, he kept our team together. He won some tough games for those guys. He played excellent, he increased his — I mean, everything he was supposed to do, he did. So I couldn't be any more happy for him."
As for Johnson, he's looking more and more likely to return this week, after spending the past eight weeks on injured reserve with a surgically repaired meniscus. He's been taking first-team reps ahead of this week's game in Denver.
"I'm very excited," Johnson said. "I've been waiting on this day for some weeks now. If I get the opportunity, I'll make the most of it. If I don't, I'll be there anyway, so I'm going to do some cheering."