Eric Kendricks will tell you there’s no question he is cut out for pro football.
After sizing up his résumé and football lineage, you can understand why the UCLA inside linebacker – commonly viewed as the top prospect at his position in this year’s draft – believes so.
His father Marvin is a former UCLA running back who went on to play in the CFL. His brother Mychal plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.
And so, as he prepared for the NFL draft evaluation process, Kendricks didn’t have to go far to find advice for what to expect. The Eagles took Mychal in the second round in 2012, so the knowledge gained from his recent experiences serve Eric well.
“He went through it a couple of years back and kind of walked me through it,” Kendricks said. “Not too much. He’s let me do my own thing. But he’s given me some advice here and there.”
Just 17 months younger, Kendricks has grown accustomed to following in his brother’s footsteps, but he has carved out his own identity as well.
The two played together in at Herbert Hoover High School in Fresno, Calif., but while Mychal went to Cal, Eric accepted an offer from a rival program.
Like his older brother, Kendricks shined as an explosive hitter with good instincts, aggression and versatility despite being somewhat undersize at 6 feet and 232 pounds.
“We bring a lot of the same characteristics to the game. We can do a lot of things that a lot of people can’t do,” Kendricks says, comparing his game to his brother’s. “Flexilibity, speed, collision at point of attack. Those are things we both bring to the table. … Measurables are one thing. But you can’t measure explosion and you can’t measure certain other things that people bring to the table like natural instinct and getting to the ball. That’s what he has. That’s what I have.”
He adds, “I’ve already created my own legacy. I’m Eric Kendricks. But at the end of the day, I’ll always be my brother’s little brother. I’m going to keep getting questions (about Mychal) and I don’t mind them at all. I think he’s a great football player. I love to talk about him.”
However, Kendricks’s game speaks for itself.
He capped his career at UCLA with a senior season in which he led the nation with 149 tackles (101 solo) and earned the Butkus Award and Lott Impact Trophy. And he now is projected to hear his name called in the first or second round of this week’s draft.
Kendricks says his instincts and drive have helped him compensate for size deficiencies. And he says strong film study habits learned from former position coach Jeff Ulbrich helped sharpen his instincts and better position him to make key plays.
Having developed a habit of studying his brother’s pro film, as well as those of Patrick Willis and Luke Kuechly, Kendricks aims to establish himself as a sure tackler and impact player in the NFL. Kendricks has every confidence that he can achieve that goal.
“I’m best on the field honestly,” he says. “I can play any linebacker position. I love to be behind the ball in the middle running both ways for the run. And I love to be out wide for the pass. I don’t mind it at all and I think I have the athletic skill to do everything.”
Jones’s top 10 inside linebacker prospects
|Rank||Player (click for stats & bio)||School||Height||Weight||Proj. Round|
|4||Benardrick McKinney||Mississippi State||6-4||246||3-4|
|5||Paul Dawson||Texas Christian||5-10||235||4|
|6||Hayes Pullard||Southern California||6-0||240||4-5|
Look for a draft-night discussion thread tonight on The Insider.
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