Kentrell Brothers LB #10 – Missouri
2014 South Carolina
Disciplined, skilled player who stays patient in keying/reading, rarely getting caught out of position or overrunning plays. Comes to balance very well before contact through calculated, precise footwork, displaying concise start/stop ability. Through his patience and discipline he is very fluid transitioning from run to pass defense by ignoring the trash and noise. This allows himself to be in excellent position particularly versus the pass where he also gains proper depth most of the time. He is a sure tackler who will line up the ballcarrier and attack methodically with a strong wrap. Has very good handwork at the POA on 2nd level OL, keeps his hands inside and out in front keeping chest clean, and disengages quickly. Effective on delayed blitzes, takes exceptional, tight angles off his DL’s backside resulting in quick paths to the QB.
Not a superb athlete, doesn’t have elite sideline-to-sideline speed to hunt down ballcarriers from across the field or compensate for a poor angle. Lacks sand or strength to halt momentum or maintain his position head up. Isn’t a huge hitter or overly intimidating presence in the MOF. Early in the year (2014) against subpar competition he played down to their level. His effort was suspect on film as he would coast a bit in backside pursuit as well as be undisciplined in his angles and contact at the POA (avoiding contact). Can get tunnel vision at times after reading his first key and slow to correct himself on misdirection. This happened during the QB/RB exchange on read/options as he can be slow to react.
Brothers came to Missouri as a 3-star prospect out of Oklahoma, denying offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, and Washington, among others. He starred at Guthrie High School as a two-way (LB & WR) starter on the football team as well as a fixture on the basketball team. He led the team (14 PPG) in scoring during back-to-back state championships while being known as a premier defender.
Brothers sustained a season-ending leg injury in a pre-season scrimmage as a true freshman, earning a redshirt. He appeared sparingly as an RS freshman in 2012 notching 14 total tackles and 1 PBU. Entering the 2013 season Brothers was penciled in as the starting OLB in the team’s predominantly 4-3 scheme. He started every game while producing 70 total tackles, 40 solo, 6.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INT, and 3 PBUs. Last season Brothers was aiming to become the team’s starting middle linebacker but was sidelined during spring with shoulder surgery. He returned and instead remained at his outside linebacker spot, starting every game on his way to 122 total tackles, 64 solo, 5 TFL, 1 sack, 4 PBUs, and 3 forced fumbles. He was also named All-SEC 2nd Team.
Brothers has a compact build and appears to be shorter than his listed playing height of 6-1. He plays in a 4-3 defensive scheme but sees the majority of snaps as a nickel LB as the defense will stay in nickel even versus 4-wide offensive sets. He will often line up 6 yards behind and shaded outside of the DE versus this personnel in zone coverage. He also got subbed out of every tape I watched for a series, sometimes two.
Kentrell is a very calculated player who possesses more skill than raw athleticism or explosiveness. He is capable of delivering a heavy blow on stagnant ballcarriers (such as if they are already slowed down from another tackler) but one on one he won’t light you up, preferring the safer route of a sure wrap up. His footwork in transition from lateral pursuit is excellent as he will take short, choppy steps to slow down with precision and put himself in a squared up position to make tackles. He also exudes this ability inside the tackle box versus OL as he will set them up with stutter steps in conjunction with active hands, making him a tough guy to block in space for bigger OL. While he can evade he isn’t as effective if this fails as he simply doesn’t possess the strength or bubble to hold up versus momentum, sometimes resulting in him getting blown back. He circumvents these situations well through sophisticated keying/reading or read/reacting ability. He recognizes screens through reading OL very quickly and in general ciphers run/pass very quickly as well. He flows to the ball through trash with precision, rarely getting caught up in lateral pursuit, oftentimes flowing pass 2nd level OL faster than they can reach him. He understands angles and utilizes them very well. He will however look to avoid contact or minimize the time engaged whenever possible, sometimes sacrificing gap responsibility. In the blitz game this skill shows up as he will wait till the last second to shoot around his DL, leaving RBs in pass pro or OL having to peel back very little reaction time to pick him up.
In coverage Brothers has a lot of experience as well as awareness reading the QB. I have seen him stay in-phase with slot WRs deep in the MOF by getting a jump on the route quickly. He uses his peripherals well as he shows the ability to pick up on routes while reading the QB and seeing through the WR to the QB. One of the best examples of this was in the ’14 South Carolina tape on a read/option pass play. He stayed patient in his read on the read/option, not crossing the LOS but rather keeping his shoulders perpendicular to the ball. This enabled him to seamlessly transition from run defense to pass defense as the slot WR shot down the MOF. He was in stride in the deep half of the field on an overthrown ball.
Overall, Brothers displayed an impressive balance of being able to defend the run and pass effectively in 2014. I was concerned with how he played down to the level of competition early in the year as he looked like a different player in the Toledo and UCF tapes before turning it up an obvious notch versus SEC talent. In 2015 if Brothers slides to the MLB spot and has a more consistent effort his production will be sky high as he has shown the mental acuity and skill to find the ball exceptionally well in 2014. I see Brothers’ talent capping him out as a day 2 prospect in the 2016 draft regardless of production, but his high skill-level, patience, and processing abilities will translate to the pro game very well.