Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles used a lot of rookies on both sides of the ball. Fletcher Cox was a huge addition to the defensive line as he looks to be a stud for the Eagles for years to come. There was also another rookie who made a good impression and that was LB Mychal Kendricks.
Kendricks didn’t put up Pro Bowl numbers, nor was he a finalist for Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, but Kendricks did have a huge impact when he was on the field. Kendricks flew under the radar when being selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Despite being the fastest linebacker at the combine and having a very productive career at the University of California, pro scouts just couldn’t ignore the 5-foot-11 height on Kendricks and began criticizing his size. However, this didn’t stop Kendricks from having a solid rookie campaign.
Kendricks is one of the fastest linebackers in the league today. He has incredible instincts and leadership to go along with his game as well. Once Kendricks stepped on the Eagles’ practice field, he was named a starter immediately. He showed great technique and explosiveness, which impressed the coaches enough to name him the starting strong side linebacker.
Kendricks ended his rookie year with 75 tackles, one sack, and nine pass deflections. Now I know these are eye-popping numbers, but when you watch Kendricks on film, he’s a missile. He was in on almost every tackle and started to make a name for himself. However, as the year went on, Kendricks began struggling on getting off blocks and was also missing tackles. Now the issue with his size comes into play here. He needs to get stronger so he can fight off blocks and get to the ball carrier. If he can work on that during the offseason, then I assure you Kendricks will be a monster in the middle of that defense.
Now it looks like the Eagles will be running a 3-4/4-3 hybrid defense. Kendricks should excel in this type of defensive scheme because he has experience in both packages. He flourished in the 3-4 defense in college by being versatile enough to defend the run, drop into coverage and even rush the passer. He also has a year of experience as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense if defensive coordinator Billy Davis chooses to change the package during a game.
Kendricks is set to have a great sophomore year. If he can work on getting off blocks quicker, then he can be a major asset to this defense and start becoming one of the more dominant young linebackers in the league.