Has good speed and closing burst on the ball. Has nice straight-line speed to make plays in space and pursuit. Shows ability to break down and make the stop against the back in the hole at the point of attack. Will wrap up and deliver a blow to the ballcarrier at times when he's coming downhill. Has a good first step and burst when coming upfield off the edge or as an interior blitzer. Able to shoot gaps and make stops in the backfield, or put pressure on the quarterback.
Doesn't have great instincts vs. the run, either when playing inside or outside. Did a poor job setting the edge when playing on the outside, allowing the back to get to the corner and make the big run. Will overpursue at times against the interior run to give up the cutback lane. Will bite on the zone read and lose contain. Will whiff on tackles in the hole, able to get side-stepped by the runner. Not a great tackler, and can be more of a drag-down guy at the point of attack despite flashing some hitting power when working downhill. Struggles to take on blocks at the point of attack, and can get pancaked by the lead blocker. Struggles to get off blocks on the second level and has difficulty filtering through traffic at times in pursuit. Doesn't have great hips when working in coverage and only gets limited reps there.
I saw Kendricks early in the year against Oregon playing outside linebacker in Cal's 3-4 scheme, he really struggled setting the edge on outside runs against LaMichael James, resulting in some big runs. He moved back to his more natural inside position in subsequent games and was better. He's a good pass rusher that does a good job attacking upfield, but outside of that he's not particularly effective run defender or in coverage. He put his best season together as a senior and has potential to develop as a run and hit weakside player. Because of his prowess as a pass rusher, he probably will work best in a 3-4, but also has enough ability to work as a WILL in a 4-3.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/6) at Oregon: 2 stuff, 1.5 pressures, 1 PD, 3 key blocked, 1 missed tackle
(10/13) vs. USC: 1 TFL, 3 stuffs, 1 pressure, 1 missed tackle
(12/28) vs. Texas: 2 TFL, 2 stuffs, 1 QB hit; 1 target, 1 rec., 14 yds, 11 YAC, 0 TDs
2011: 13 GP/11 GS, 107 tackles, 17 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 PD, 0 FF, 2 FR
2008: 13/0-15-1.0-1.0-0-0-0-0; 1 blocked punt
Kendricks worked in Cal's 3-4 defense because he was the speed that matched up well beside D.J. Holt's size and power. And if he goes to a team that already has a good run stuffer that needs a faster, more rangier player on the interior, he could work well in that capacity. But more than likely, early in Kendricks' career he'll be a backup and have to work on special teams. Despite his speed, I just don't think he has the instincts to really thrive as a run defender at the next level. In a blitz-happy 3-4 scheme that won't ask their inside guys to just drop into coverage and play the run like the Steelers and Jets employ, he'll probably work better. Because of his speed, burst, and pass rush potential, he has some upside down the road to develop into a competent complementary starter. In that way, I'd compare him to a rangier version of Tim Dobbins that has more impact as a pass rusher. Like Dobbins, I think Kendricks can add depth for a team and if need be, a competent starter. But he's not a guy that is going to be a reliable impact defender. I think with development, he can be functional in coverage, but not a great there everydown defender. The best thing for Kendricks will be contributing on special teams, that will allow him to at least continue to get opportunities as a reserve. As a 4-3 player, he looks more like a middle linebacker, but plays more like a weakside guy. If he plays behind a big beefy offensive line that can keep blockers off him, he might make an effective guy in the middle, but primarily as a reserve. He just lacks the instincts to think he can impact long-term and it will limit his chances to do what he does best, which is rush the quarterback. As a 4-3 player, his upside as a starter is much more limiteed than it would be in a 3-4.
Kendricks might work in Atlanta as a reserve if he can play early on special teams. He offers some developmental potential as an inside linebacker down the line if the Falcons make a more permanent move to a base 3-4 scheme. But I think his abilities as a run defender will pale in comparison to players like Dent and Spoon, and thus he'd most likely be a reserve there. The best hope for him is that he can be subbed in for Dent at times when the team is looking to blitz more. Immediately in their 4-3 scheme, he can add depth and brings similar traits to the table as a Spencer Adkins due to his subpar size, straight-line speed, and pass-rushing ability. He's a guy that can add depth and be a functional stopgap starter down the road, but unless he makes significant improvements in coverage, then he's not a long-term option.
Kendricks can add depth as a developmental option for a 3-4 team. He has some upside to be a starter, which means he could be a good value pickup in the fourth or fifth round. A 3-4 team that already has a good run stuffer inside and looking for more speed could take him at the end of the third. But since it will probably take some time to develop his abilities, he would be a bit of a reach if taken before that point.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Point of Attack: 5.0
Pass Rush: 7.0
Scouting reports of the inside and outside linebackers in the 2012 Draft.
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