Punch Drunk Wonderland

2015 NFL Draft Preview: Eric Kendricks

Kendricks is considered by many to be the top rookie inside linebacker prospect coming into the 2015 NFL Draft, and is by far the most outstanding LB in terms of coverage skills of the bunch. He comes from a strong pedigree as his brother, Mychal, is an elite linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s received some criticism for being undersized, but at 6’0″ and 232 pounds he isn’t as small as some (Chris Borland bucked the “undersized” label pretty well in 2014). His athleticism and aggressiveness gets him a long way, and that shouldn’t be understated.

At UCLA Kendricks had a great career and finished off his last season with 149 total tackles (101 solo) and earned the Butkus Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy. A criticism is that he could have more stops behind the line of scrimmage since most of his tackles came in pursuit. However, that is also another testament to his speed and athleticism.

At the combine, Kendricks had a strong showing. As has been noted in past years, performance in 40-yard-dash, broad jump, and vertical jump are very good predictors on overall athletic ability. These measurables help to zero in on the range and speed of coverage for a defender. Kendricks recorded a 4.61s 40-yard-dash, 10’5″ broad jump, and 38″ vertical jump. All were at or near the top 10% among other ILB prospects.

Kendricks is a solid prospect as 4-3 middle or weakside linebacker and, while undersized, could make a fit as a 3-4 inside linebacker.

Strengths: Outstanding football smarts and is a solid leader. Excellent in coverage. Good instincts to diagnose a play quickly, react and create the right angles in pursuit. Outstanding tackle and play-on-ball skills. Find himself involved in every play and is seemingly always around the ball.

Weaknesses: Undersized for ILB. Could improve as a blitzer and find ways to create more stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Similar to: Bobby Wagner (LB, Seattle Seahawks), Wesley Woodyard (LB, Tennessee Titans)

Possible landing spots: Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans

Draft Profile courtesty of mockdraftable.com

K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...