The Buffalo Bills’ defense was inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers.
Kentrell Brothers was a three-year starter for the Missouri Tigers, where he racked up 344 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, five interceptions, 10 pass breakups and four forced fumbles. As a redshirt senior in 2015, Brothers was named First Team All-SEC after finishing the year with 152 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble, while generating 11 quarterback pressures, 33 run disruptions and 12 “stuffs.”
Kentrell Brothers Size/ Athletic Ability
Kentrell Brothers was ridiculously productive from a statistical standpoint and shows good intelligence, instincts and awareness for the linebacker position, but he’ll be limited in what he can do at the next level from an athletic standpoint. Brothers stands 6’0” and weighed in at 249 pounds at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, with 30 ½” arms and 9 ¾” hands. His lack of length wasn’t a major issue in college, but it will likely prove to be a detriment in the NFL when it comes to stacking and shedding oncoming blockers.
In addition to Kentrell Brothers’ lack of height and length for the position, he performed horribly in the explosion testing drills—posting a 4.89 40-yard dash, a 28.5” vertical leap and a 9’3” broad jump. Brothers did test well in the agility drills, running a 6.99 second three-cone drill and a 4.11 second 20-yard shuttle, both of which place him in at least the 72nd percentile of NFL linebackers.
Watching Kentrell Brothers on film, his short-area quickness is evident, as he routinely makes plays within the tackle box, but his lack of range, explosion and speed shows up when he’s asked to play in space or get to the sidelines.
Kentrell Brothers Run Support
In the National Football League, Kentrell Brothers will make his biggest impact as a run defender. He’s instinctive and reads his keys quickly, showing the ability to maneuver through traffic as well as stacking and shedding lead or pull blocks at the second level.
On rushes between the tackles, Brothers does a good job of reading the play, before getting downhill, making tackles while simultaneously fighting through trash.
Kentrell Brothers shows good patience and will rarely overpursue a run, as the following play shows. He’ll scrape over the top of the formation laterally, shooting the gap to bring down the ball carrier when a hole opens up.
Kentrell Brothers uses his hands well and will make up for his lack of length with technique when taking on second-level blocks. Here against Alabama, the center gets out to seal Brothers out of the play. Brothers works through it and is able to make the tackle while still engaged with the offensive lineman.
Against Florida, Kentrell Brothers shows his stack and shed ability again on an outside run, taking on an offensive lineman before shedding the block and shooting the gap to make the play.
Where Kentrell Brothers begins to struggle is when he needs to change direction while already flowing downhill. He’ll typically take a wide angle on runs towards the sidelines, seemingly showing an awareness of his own limitations, as you can see in the following clip against the Gators.
But, if he shoots the wrong gap, he doesn’t have the speed or explosiveness to recover.
Against Alabama, Kentrell Brothers takes some false steps at the snap and winds up getting sealed by a down block as Derrick Henry runs right through the gap where he should be for a 24-yard touchdown.
Kentrell Brothers Pass Coverage
In pass coverage, Kentrell Brothers shows good awareness in underneath zones and will anticipate and break on passes when he’s confident in his ability to cover the ground in time.
He does this against a shallow hitch:
And here against a screen:
Now, when opposing offenses get Kentrell Brothers moving laterally, or sideline-to-sideline, he doesn’t trust his pursuit and will often slow up and “wait” for the ball carrier to come to him for the tackle, rather than run through them. This often results in him whiffing on his tackle attempt, as Brothers doesn’t have the length to wrap up opponents from a distance.
Brothers’ lack of athleticism and ability to change directions shows up in the following play. He drops into a short zone coverage between the hashes and sees two underneath crossing routes. He takes a false step as one receiver crosses his face, before turning back to run with the other. It’s too late, and the receiver makes the catch, picking up an additional 10 yards after the grab before Kentrell Brothers and a teammate bring him down.
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
Kentrell Brothers is a solid linebacker prospect that’s at his best when the play is in front of him. He’s instinctive and aggressive when moving downhill, whether against the run or in the short passing game. Brothers’ lack of athleticism will likely force him to play within the tackle box or hashes in the National Football League, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for him.
Kentrell Brothers is a fundamentally sound football player that doesn’t make many mistakes, so coaches will appreciate that aspect of his game. From an athletic standpoint, he isn’t going to wow anybody with his speed or pursuit, which could limit the potential “ceiling” he has as a prospect. He’d be a solid fit playing inside linebacker in a 3-4, where his strengths—stacking and shedding blocks, maneuvering through traffic, making plays between the hashes—would be maximized, while his weaknesses—sideline to sideline range, intermediate-to-deep coverage responsibility—would be minimized.
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