The Green Bay Packers are in clear need of help in stopping the run. Adding some defensive linemen in the draft will be one way of addressing this need. However, the 3-4 is designed to free up the inside linebackers to flow to the ball and attack the line of scrimmage as needed. The Packers will get one boost in getting back a healthy Sam Barrington. The presumed growth of Jake Ryan should also help a run defense that finished 2015 21st in the NFL in rushing yards per game (119.1) and 26th in yards per carry (4.5). However, if the Packers are committed to adding another young player to the mi, Kentrell Brothers is one name that could be available on Day Two to help provide options and depth in the middle of the Packers linebacking corps.
Kentrell Brothers was the only player in the nation to have 120+ tackles in both 2014 and 2015. The biggest statistic for Brothers is that he led the nation in tackles per game (12.7). He is a stout player measuring in at 6'0" and 245 pounds, and he uses his arms well in tackling and drives through the initial contact. He shows good ability in pursuit. He attacks blocks well and does not get driven back, but rather, anchors in the point of attack and forces the play.
During his 2014 Junior campaign, Brothers put up 122 tackles, 5.0 TFL, and managed 4 passes defensed. This was good enough to garner Second Team All-SEC honors. He improved through his senior year with 152 tackles, 12.0 TFL and 2.5 sacks. While the passing game is not his strong suit, he added three passes defensed and two interceptions. The other impressive stat from this senior year trail was the three blocked kicks he managed. this demonstrates the effort, determination and anger he can bring to the field. Brothers ended his senior year with First-Team All-SEC honors and several All-American recognitions.
Ryan Jenson of Pro Football Focus described Brothers by saying "He has a positive grade for pass rushing, pass coverage and run defense. He leads the nation in tackles and quarterbacks have an NFL-style rating of 59.6 when he is targeted."
Brothers did not have the Combine results he was hoping to post, however. Brothers looked sluggish with a 4.89-second 40-yard dash. This appeared a good deal slower than the tape suggested. Brothers also did not show the explosiveness he had hoped to showcase, as he only managed a 28.5" vertical jump and a 110" broad jump. Still, he showed exceptional quickness and agility by nailing a 4.11 second 20 yards shuttle (only 0.11 seconds behind Nick Vigil for fastest at the Combine) and a 6.99 second three-cone drill (again in the top ten of all linebackers and just 0.26 seconds behind Vigil for fastest). Brothers also matched players like Myles Jack and Nick Kwiatkowski by putting up 19 reps in the bench press and reportedly also managed a 28 on the Wonderlic. One scout said "Brothers is short but he's thick. Doesn't run extremely well but really a productive, physical player. Smart kind of kid."
The good news for Brothers is he still had his March 23rd Pro Day to look forward to. Brothers took full advantage of this opportunity. The more relaxed Brothers demonstrated the speed scouts expected with a 4.73 40-yard dash. Then, he followed that up with a 31.5" vertical jump. Brothers believed he let the stress of the Combine schedule get to him: "It’s like I was rushing into things and trying to get them over with," he said. Brothers helped his draft position by getting back to familiar settings and showing what he is capable of. "It felt a lot better to be at Mizzou. You’re not as stressed. It’s like that home-field advantage. You’ve got your teammates around you, so it’s kind of like practice. I was a lot more comfortable. I think everyone was."
The biggest knock on Brothers is his arm length. His arms measured at 30 3/4", putting him at the 37th out of 38 linebackers at the Combine. This is not terribly surprising, as he was the second-shortest linebacker there as well. The concern is he will have a harder time disengaging from blockers when they can outreach him by so much. Still, Brothers showed a knack for positioning himself and using his body to gain the advantage in making plays on the ball carrier. He likely rates somewhere in the second or third rounds. Since the Packers have appeared to back off the idea of inside linebacker in the first round, Brothers might be someone targeted on day two of the draft who could fill a need.