Kendricks, 21, was the third rated outside linebacker in the draft, and the 57th rated overall player, according to NFL Draft Scout. He stands 5’11 and weighs 240 pounds. He runs a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, which is extremely fast for a linebacker. According to NFL Draft Scout, he is the fastest linebacker in 12 years, since 2000. He’s also the shortest linebacker in the draft, which is the biggest reason why he dropped to the second round.
According to former Indianapolis Colts General Manager Bill Polian, Kendricks is the best pass-rushing linebacker in the entire draft, besides Luke Kuechly, who went ninth overall to the Carolina Panthers. Former NFL Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden compared Kendricks to a young Lance Briggs. In fact, Kendricks was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year last season.
He is expected to compete for a starting job at strongside linebacker. I expect him to win the starting job in training camp, meaning the Eagles will enter next season with two new linebackers: DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Jamar Chaney will likely be the starting weak side linebacker.
The Eagles’ new crop of linebackers is expected to drastically improve their run defense in 2011, which struggled, especially in the new wide-nine scheme. Casey Matthews, who opened last season at middle linebacker, was the biggest reason for the team’s struggles, and he will undoubtedly open the 2012 season on the bench.
Kendricks’ speed will be very useful against new Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, arguably the fastest quarterback in the National Football League.