It is rare, Kevin Steele said, to find a defensive lineman who can command double teams inside as well as rush the passer outside.

Auburn has one in Derrick Brown.

“He can play the six-technique, he can play the three-technique, he can play the nose,” the second-year defensive coordinator said. “He could probably play right guard, right tackle, even center if he could snap it.”

Brown is looking at sizeable role in Auburn’s defense in 2017. The Tigers graduated starting defensive tackle Montravius Adams and top reserves Devaroe Lawrence and Maurice Swain Jr. after last season, and the rising sophomore is expected to help pick up the slack.

As a freshman, the former five-star recruit split time between defensive end and tackle. He’s expected to do the same this spring. Steele said Brown is capable of playing anywhere from nose tackle in a 3-4 defense — something the defensive coordinator said Auburn may experiment with this season — to end in a 4-3.

During the media viewing portion of Auburn’s fifth spring practice on March 7, Brown played defensive tackle alongside Andrew Williams with the first team and rotated in as a defensive end with the second.

“It’s a key piece, because he’s a very, very talented man,” Steele said. “He’s very athletic, he’s smart, he’s got a tremendous amount of pride and work ethic.”

Brown played in all 13 games in his debut season on the Plains, but was fairly quiet in them. The Sugar Hill, Ga., native totaled just 11 tackles, 1 ½ tackles for loss, one sack, one quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery Week 1 against Clemson.

But when you’re 6-foot-5 and 317 pounds and can play all across the defensive line, you can make your impact felt ways other than statistics.

“Derrick is a big, physical guy,” linebacker Deshaun Davis said. “He’s a real long guy and he’s stronger than he really looks. When he grabs hold of you there’s not too much you’re really going to do with him.

“He makes my job easier. Every time you see me get a tackle you’re going to see me pat him and Dontavius (Russell) and all of them because they make our job a lot easier.”