In most IDP leagues, the kings of the hill are “tackle vacuum” linebackers–players who will rack up stops (and consistent fantasy production) week in and week out. And over the past two seasons in college football, no player has done a better job of that than Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers.
The 6’0″, 245-pound Brothers, who led the NCAA in tackles with 152 in 2015, has tallied an eye-popping 274 stops over his past two years with the Tigers. Brothers drew comparisons to D’Qwell Jackson of the Indianapolis Colts (who led the NFL in tackles in 2015) from Dane Brugler of CBS Sports.
“Similar to Jackson,” Brugler said, “Brothers is an average athlete, but his tackling abilities will trump scheme in the NFL, projecting best inside in a 3-4 base or strong side in a 4-3 formation.”
However, while Brugler may have seen average athleticism while watching Brothers on tape, the same cannot be said for his instincts and ability to flow to the ball. “Brothers plays with above average recognition skills and anticipation to beat blockers to the contact point,” Brugler said, “but for his high tackle production, he also misses several tackles due to his lack of ideal speed and length. However, he’s able to compensate for his average athleticism due to his competitive nature and superb instincts.”
It was a similar refrain (superior instincts, inferior athleticism) from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, who compared Brothers to Paul Dawson on TCU, another young linebacker who was wildly productive in college.
“Really fun to watch on tape with many of the same play traits that made TCU’s Paul Dawson so productive (in college),” Zierlein wrote. “Brothers is a decisive, rhythm linebacker whose understanding of space and ability to improve his tackle positioning at the point of attack should make him a consistently productive inside linebacker in the pros. While Brothers will lack the speed and overall athleticism that some teams covet, it would be a huge mistake to value athleticism over instincts and production when evaluating Brothers.”
As Brugler reported, Brothers didn’t do himself any favors at the Scouting Combine either. “Brothers’ lack of speed was on display at Lucas Oil stadium,” Brugler said, “posting a 4.89 in the 40-yard dash. He also finished near the bottom of the list for linebackers in the vertical (28.5″) and broad jump (110″).”
“However,” Brugler continued, “he finished second among linebackers in the 20-yard shuttle (4.11) and was one of only three linebackers to record a sub-7.00 three-cone drill with a 6.99 time.”
A perceived lack of elite athleticism isn’t the only knock on Brothers. He wasn’t asked to do much in coverage with the Tigers, playing mainly in simple zone coverages–a fact Brothers freely admitted to Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
“I think coverage is one of my weaknesses, it’s something I need to work on,” Brothers said. “I don’t think I’m horrible, but there’s a lot of places I can improve, and I’ve been doing that since I’ve been training.”