Name: Eric Kendricks
Grade: 1st – Early 2nd
Comparison: Sean Lee, Bobby Wagner
Eric Kendricks displays great feet and coordination, which allows him to read and react to plays better. He also demonstrates all-around great athleticism, being one of the most athletic linebackers in college football last season. Shows great flexibility and balance.
Kendricks combine numbers were as expected from watching him on tape, as he boasted a 1.57 10 yard split which can be shown in his explosiveness toward the ball carrier.
A relentless athlete, he is never out of a play and is always around the ball. Very productive player throughout his college career, becoming the all-time leading tackler in UCLA history with a total of 480 tackles.
In ’13 and ’14 Eric Kendricks won leadership awards from his UCLA coaches and was also awarded the UCLA Captain award. Kendricks is a 3-time captain and a high character player. He’s what Jason Garret would call the Right Kind of Guy, or as you may know it an RKG.
A very instinctive player. He will read and react to the ball with the best of them. I loved watching his skills on film; if I were to compare his awareness to a quarterback in the league it would easily be Peyton Manning. This kid knows where the ball is going and is quick to sniff the play out.
When watching the Virginia game film, I witnessed him on multiple occasions sliding to the hole the play was going and then exploding into the hole as if he was a ball carrier to make the tackle. A very mentally alert athlete, showing great instincts, and quick diagnosis skills.
Normally, athletes at the linebacker position are valued higher when they are taller and thicker than Kendricks. I believe he will be passed over by some GM’s due to his size, but I’m not concerned. I am also not concerned because he has not had durability issues in his career.
Strength was shown to be an issue on film as it sometimes limited his ability to stack and shed the defender. He relied heavily on his flexibility to lose his blocker. As stated previously, he is an explosive athlete.
Kendricks shows great initial quickness to get to the ball carrier, followed by amazing read-and-react skills. He is able to sort through the trash to get to the ball carrier.
Sometimes can whiff on a block due to his inability to stack a player due to questions of strength, but those questions were answered after benching 225lbs 19 times at the combine. Eric Kendricks is a better tackler when he’s able to roam sideline to sideline. He is a run-and-chase tackler over a catch-tackler, but has shown the ability to accelerate at both.
Shows play-making ability while in coverage. While watching him vs Texas, I witnessed a pick six by him, which showed great awareness in coverage but also overall great athletic ability. He can become too aggressive in coverage though, which leads to a few penalties.
I was told by Jared Katz that I would love Kendricks’ instincts, and I do; that I would say he is the most instinctive linebacker in the 2015 draft. An all around great prospect who is going to make an NFL team very happy.
I would easily take him in the top 20 of this draft.
The only issue I see with Eric Kendricks is that he’s a little smaller than I would like at the linebacker position, but that can be compensated for by his above-average intelligence. He also needs to show better strength on film.
I could easily see Stephen Jones, Will McClay, and Jason Garrett making Kendricks their selection at 27. He embodies everything these men look for in an athlete and knowing they were looking to grab Shazier last season, they could look for another this year. If you’re not sure just put the film on, you will fall in love.