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Pro Illini: Illinois football players in the NFL Pt. 4: Sydney Brown



Sydney Brown
Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Illinois defensive back Sydney Brown (DB42) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Safety Sydney Brown was drafted in the second round of the 2023 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Pro Illini series is all about Illini athletes that have made it to the professional ranks. Because football season is upon us, Pro Illini will initially focus on Illini football. The Fighting Illini currently have 29 players in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, and Washington Commanders have three Illini players on their rosters. The Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and New York Jets have two.

The first series will take a look at NFL rookies. This fourth article features safety, Sydney Brown.

Who was the best defensive back at Illinois in 2022?

Cornerback Devon Witherspoon might have been the fifth overall draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but Sydney Brown was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The competition between the defensive backs in that room was palpable. Consequently, Illinois had the best secondary in college football last year.

Brown deals with competition well. He and his older brother have played football together since they could walk. Older brother might be a stretch; Chase Brown is just two minutes older than younger brother Sydney.

Brown had a monster year for the Illini, leading the team in interceptions and scoring two defensive touchdowns. His performance for the Illini in 2022 led to All-Big Ten First Team and All-American Second Team selections.

How he fits with the Philadephia Eagles

At least one veteran has taken notice of the Illinois standout rookie. Brown has a chance to start with C.J. Garner-Johnson and Marcus Epps gone. As a result, the Canadian-born defensive back took advantage of that void early on in camp, and at least one veteran has noticed.

“He’s a hard worker. He doesn’t say too much. He’s always smiling, but you just know that he wants it,” Terrell Edmunds said. “He just goes out there and gives 110%. He’s willing to learn. He just loves football. You can tell. “He gives 110% every day. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to be in this league for a while.”

Brown’s ball-hawking skills, paired with a defensive line that will pressure every quarterback it plays, is an excellent recipe in the City of Brotherly Love.

Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.