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2016 NFL Draft player breakdown: Kentrell Brothers

With the Jaguars needing help at linebacker, could Missouri's Kentrell Brothers be the athletic playmaker to pair with Telvin Smith? (We think so.)

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to give Telvin Smith a partner in crime at linebacker. Paul Posluszny, as solid a year as he had in 2015 isn't the long-term plan. Dan Skuta is a band-aid. And backups like Jordan Tripp and Thurston Armbrister are fine in a pinch, but they're not the answer either.

A theory gaining momentum is that the Jaguars could use their No. 5 overall pick on UCLA's Myles Jack, arguably the best linebacker in the draft and certainly the most pro-ready with Jaylon Smith's late-season injury at Notre Dame in 2015. Get the top linebacker, circle back in the second round for a free safety (or a pass rusher if you're not able to sign one in free agency) and then get the best defensive lineman -- interior guy, pass rusher, whoever -- with your third round pick. Your first three picks could very well be starters from Day 1 and your defense is immediately better.

I'm not buying it. I don't think a lame duck coaching staff looking for the kind of upgrade this defense needs to keep their job will go with a guy like Jaylon in the first round. Free safety is an important position in the scheme Gus Bradley is trying to install and Jalen Ramsey has been argued as the best defender (not simply best free safety) in this draft.

With a free safety in the first round, that opens up options in the second round. If a pass rusher or 3-tech to replace Sen'Derrick Marks is there, it's an intriguing option. But if Kentrell Brothers out of Missouri is also there, I think he gives your linebacking group an immediate upgrade as well.

Great instincts and balanced play

Measuring in at 6'0" and 249 pounds at the Senior Bowl, Brothers would be the shortest linebacker on the team. His 40-time, cone drills, and athleticism on paper will disappoint stat sheet scouts. But despite not posting 4.6 40-yard dashes, he kept up with tight ends and running backs just fine at Missouri. His 357 stops since 2013 led the SEC, but it's not just how many tackles he made but how he made them.

Brothers is a sound tackler. He's a guy who majored in the fundamentals and proper form, but he has the instincts to know when to break off his pass coverage assignment and just go after the quarterback... not to mention the skill set to actually get the tackle.

But his run coverage is still good, even if he's a bit shorter than his counterparts. He has great vision, breaks down the play well, and although his speed and athleticism aren't great on paper, they're good in the game.

However, the above clip is from his junior season. Shedding blockers is something he improved in his senior season and a big reason why it was a good idea for him to stay at Missouri in 2015.

But most of all, he's a playmaker

He's a leader and makes plays when they're needed most. In coverage, he can rip the ball right out of a receiver's hands... taking advantage of poor blocking on special teams and blocking a punt.


Like I said before, Brothers is not a freak athlete with a 4.5 40-yard dash or a 6'3" frame to overpower his opponent on sheer will if technique fails. He doesn't have top-tier speed or strength.

He's also hit-or-miss when it comes to shedding offensive linemen who get to the second level. At times, he does a good job, especially if he's able to take advantage of a guy who doesn't have his feet set. When a lineman is squared up and ready, he'll likely lose the battle.


All in all, whether it's in pass coverage or run coverage, Brothers does a great job sticking to his assignment and his gaps. He's a smart guy who takes good angles and uses fundamental technique to almost always be in on the stop. And while I think he's overall fine at pass coverage, he's definitely a "boom or bust" guy against the pass, meaning he's either got the right assignment or he's way, way off. There is no in between with this guy.

He also plays faster than he'll measure. He won't be a guy whose stock soars after the NFL Combine, but his production -- 357 stops, five interceptions, 11 passes defended, and four forced fumbles -- shows he has the range to play sideline to sideline.

If the Jaguars go with a pure pass rusher like Joey Bosa or Noah Spence in the first round and they haven't solved their safety problem in free agency, I'd want them to go after someone like Boise State's Darian Thompson. However, if they grab a pass rusher in free agency, Jalen Ramsey is the pick at No. 5 overall, a 3-tech looks like he might be available in Round 3, and Brothers falls out of the first round? Things will get very, very interesting.