Mychal Kendricks [ILB] California
Height: 5'11 1/4"
40 Yard Dash: 4.47
Projection: 2nd Round
Strengths: Might be short, but very stout and thickly built, he plays as fast as his timed speed suggests and has true sideline to sideline ability. Has very good change of direction skills, quick feet and balance. Is very comfortable coming on the blitz, has good timing and gets good jumps, spent much of 2010 playing as an outside linebacker in the Cal Bears 34 defense, bends well around the edge when lined up wide, uses his natural leverage and quick feet to beat tackles off the edge. Fights through traffic well and uses his hands to avoid blockers and put himself in a position to make plays. Shows a willingness to play downhill and meet a fullback in the hole. Reads the running game really well, diagnoses the play, finds the gaps and flows to the ball carrier. Has the ability to make plays behind the LOS in the running game and that is his best asset. Flashes the ability to make tough tackles around the ankles after shooting through the line. Plays with intensity and fire, has experience in a 34 defense.
Weakness: Struggles to get off blocks, once someone locks on he is out of the play, often getting driven backwards on running plays. Spent little time in coverage and looked half a step slow when he did, not great technique played flat-footed and lacked anticipation, but he is fluid and moves well, just lacks experience and the recognition skills. Likely be a two down NFL Linebacker as a rookie. Inconsistent tackler, does not break down well in space, overruns plays and misses too many tackles. Smaller than ideal for an inside linebacker. Does not really have any pass rushing moves, just shoots gaps and uses his athleticism. He has had some character issues at Cal, twice was suspended for a violation of team rules.
Overall: Kendricks is a player that has risen in the post draft workouts to be firmly entrenched in the 2nd round. He is very comfortable playing downhill, but lacks experience in coverage and does not look comfortable playing south at this stage, plenty of room for improvement and has the skillset to be a good coverage linebacker, just needs the coaching. Allow him to read and react in the run game attacking downhill from the inside and you will get the best out of him early on. Posted a 6.68 3 cone time at his Pro-Day and shows explosion both on the field and in testing, less than ideal size for playing as a pass rushing OLB in a 34 defense (Though nearly identical to James Harrison), but has experience in college and it might be the best fit for his skillset. Kendricks has big upside and some versatility, teams will value that early in the draft. Ultimately Kendricks will likely end up in the middle of a 34 defense, he could become a very good player in the right conditions and a potential Pro-Bowl linebacker with the right coaching.