One of the few encouraging players on the Philadelphia Eagles defense last season was middle linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of the University of California, Kendricks has an exciting future with the Eagles.
Kendricks’ draft stock skyrocketed last spring after an impressive Scouting Combine performance. His 4.47 40-yard dash time blew scouts away as it was the fastest 40 time posted by a linebacker in the last five years. Weighing in at close to 240 pounds, he provides the Eagles with uncharacteristic size and speed in the middle of the defense.
Mychal Kendricks is more than just a size-speed specimen. His game tape demonstrates a violence at the point of contact capable of creating turnovers. He also showed off high-caliber athleticism and natural instincts when rushing the passer.
While Kendricks possesses the necessary physical attributes and passion for the game to become an elite middle linebacker, he struggled early on. In Week 1 through Week 3 of the 2013 regular season, Kendricks was one of the worst 3-4 middle linebackers in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. His primary weakness was pass coverage. He was frequently caught out of position trying to cover NFL-caliber running backs and tight ends. His closing speed, however, allowed him to recover quickly and limit yards after the catch.
As the 2013 season progressed, Kendricks came of age as he graded out in the top half of the league amongst 3-4 inside linebackers. He went on to finish the season with 86 total tackles, which was second on the team behind only All-Pro Demeco Ryans. Additionally, his 27 assists were tied for the team lead.
Despite an inconsistent rookie season, Kendricks also emerged as a locker room leader in-the-making. His boundless energy frequently lifted the spirits of demoralized teammates, particularly after the Eagles’ disappointing 3-5 start to the season. Heading into 2014, look for Kendricks to take on a larger role on an improving defense and become both an impact player on the field and a team leader off the field.