Making an Indy 360: Orlando Brown Jr. transforms from combine bust

It was only six months ago in Indianapolis where Orlando Brown Jr. went from being the draft's top offensive tackle prospect to the face of the NFL combine's all-time disaster show.

As Brown returns to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Colts in his first Monday Night Football appearance, he finds his stock soaring again, the result of hard work, a good diet and impressive listening skills.

Brown has put himself in position to start for the Baltimore Ravens at right tackle immediately. His head coach is raving how he's improving every day. His quarterback is boasting about how he engulfs defenders.

This isn't the storyline many envisioned for Brown after he posted embarrassing numbers at the combine in February. Brown just never bought into that narrative.

"If anyone would ask me after the combine if I was going to have a good NFL career, I would have told you, 'Yes,'" Brown said. "This is what I do; I play football. I’m not the strongest guy. I’m not the fastest guy. But no one on the field plays with more will than me, more effort and more hustle."

This effort and hustle have been on display in the preseason. Brown has been one of the top performing rookies this summer, allowing one quarterback pressure on 83 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

This is what the Ravens saw out of Brown on film when he dominated at Oklahoma. It led Baltimore to invest a third-round pick in Brown, who became the ninth offensive tackle selected in this year's draft.

Brown came to the Ravens raw in terms of technique. He has steadily refined his skills by not missing a practice, rep or learning opportunity since coming to Baltimore. Throughout every workout, Brown can be seen listening to a coach or teammate on what he can do differently with his feet, hand placement and timing.

"They say one of the best abilities is availability, and he’s been available every single practice to improve," coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s the kind of player that gets better with every rep, too. He’s very smart. He takes the lesson learned from the previous rep and applies it to the next rep, and I think you see, in his play, the results of that."

Brown is looking like the All-America blocker who protected Baker Mayfield's blind side and not the one who fell flat in his previous trip to Indianapolis.

There were the horrifically low 14 reps on the bench press, the fewest of any offensive lineman at the combine. Then, there was the 40-yard dash, which Brown ran in a combine-worst 5.85 seconds. The decline continued in the 20-yard shuttle, broad jump and vertical jump.

Brown's focus since reaching the NFL has been transforming his body. According to Brown, he was at 338 pounds with 23 percent body fat when he arrived in Baltimore in April. He's now at 350 pounds with 19 percent body fat.

The improvement stemmed from Brown buying into the team's conditioning program and eating right. Brown is eating three meals a day that contain few carbs and lots of protein.

"It hasn’t been much of a struggle as I thought it would be," Brown said.

Brown is battling James Hurst to become Baltimore's starting right tackle, the spot his father started at for the Ravens 13 years ago. But Hurst has been filling in for right guard Marshal Yanda, who has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Starting the first two preseason games, Brown has done nothing to lose a job with the first-team offense. He was the fourth-highest-graded offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus in the first full week of the NFL preseason.

"He shows up in practice like he shows up on film," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Obviously, there are some things that he can work on, but you can’t ignore that he’s got ability. He’s so big, he swallows people up. He has natural ability to play that position and be a really good football player, so it’s exciting to see."

If Brown can deliver another outstanding preseason performance, it will go a long way in putting Indianapolis in his past and underscoring a potentially bright future.

"That’s been one of the reasons that I’ve been able to be so successful is because I focus on that," Brown said. "I focus on my craft, and I try to never take a step back and only go forward. Being here at the franchise ... the sky’s the limit. I’m just going to continue to grow as a person and as a player."