If the Cincinnati Bengals take a linebacker in the second round, the odds of it being either Patrick Queen or Kenneth Murray are slim to none at this point. Both of those players are near locks to go in the first round. This shouldn’t eliminate the position from the Bengals’ plans entirely at that pick, however.
Jordyn Brooks has been a productive linebacker for the past four years at Texas Tech, and in a year where teams may be basing their grades off of film more than ever, Brooks could find himself drafted much earlier than many expect.
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Texas Tech
- Year: Senior
- Date of Birth: 10/21/1997
- 2016: 12 games, 61 solo tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 pass deflections
- 2017: 12 games, 50 solo tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 0 sacks, 3 pass deflections
- 2018: 12 games, 43 solo tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 pass deflections
- 2019: 11 games, 66 solo tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 0 pass deflections
- Best Single Season: 2019 (12.27% solo tackle market share)
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 240
- Arm: 32 7/8”
- Hand: 9 1/8”
Density-Based Athleticism Scores (per James Cobern’s data)
- Speed: 94.76 percentile (4.54 40-Yard Dash)
What he does well
Hit people. Brooks is the best run defending linebacker in this class per Pro Football Focus. He’s excellent at diagnosing blocks, keeping track of ballcarriers and squaring up to them. It doesn’t hurt that he looks the part, either. Brooks’ physique is that of a veteran with years in an NFL weight room. This helps him take on second level blocks with ease.
With all that bulk, you may be surprised to see Brooks run sideline to sideline as fast as he does. His 4.54 40-yard dash confirmed what was easy to see on tape. He explodes from his base and rarely takes bad angles in pursuit. That aspect puts his speed an explosion to practical use; he plays fast, and he is fast.
Brooks makes a lot of tackles close to and behind the line of scrimmage. His high solo tackle market share is legit since most of those solo tackles were wins for Texas Tech’s defense. He’s got legit production and legit speed and explosion.
Where he’s more limited
As you may expect, if Brooks was so productive, explosive and physical, why isn’t he considered a first-round prospect? He has issues changing direction and was used sparingly in coverage. The deeper he’s asked to drop in zone, the less you should trust him. While he has the speed to carry a seam route, he’s not going to stick to shifty tight ends or slot receivers in man coverage.
This isn’t to say Brooks shouldn’t be a three-down player; he has the skillset to operate as a QB spy and work as a flat defender against running backs on passing downs.
Brooks also can do better at working off of his blocks to keep himself clean in run defense. He’s strong enough to absorb unnecessary contact, but he can become an even better player if he learns to keep himself clean.
NFL teams might be a bit uncomfortable with Brooks’ injury history as well. He first injured his shoulder when he was a freshman and had surgery to fix it. He re-injured his shoulder at the end of last season and it caused him to sit out of the Senior Bowl and not fully test at the NFL Combine.
Fit with the Bengals
The base of the Bengals’ defense resembles that of a 3-4 defense, and they need a long-term answer to put next to Germaine Pratt. Brooks would fit that roll perfectly. He may not have the range and fluidity to be an asset in coverage, but he would be a valuable piece to the puzzle they’re still assembling.
A theme of the Bengals’ offseason has been the need to get better in run defense. And they still need to add more pieces at linebacker. No move would align better with their plans than bringing Brooks into the fold. If they do, expect it to happen in the second round, as Brooks seems unlikely to escape the first 50 picks at this point.