Uses good tackling technique to wrap up ball-carrier
Can flip his hips to run with receivers
Regularly generates splash plays
Produces good down-and-distance situations
Experienced 3-year starter
Could star on special teams
Lots of upside
Probably can't add much weight
Will have to work on taking on blocks
Summary: Over the past three years, Kendricks was one of the best linebackers in college football. He was a tackling machine for the Bruins who not only shut down opponents ground games, but thrived in pass coverage. Kendricks is a three-down play-maker who routinely makes high-impact plays.
Kendricks was a backup until a breakout 2012 season in which he led the Pac-12 in tackles. Kendricks had 149 tackles with six tackles for a loss, two sacks, four passes broken up, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick. His instincts were excellent as he did a great job of reading and reacting. In 2013, Kendricks had 105 tackles, four tackles for a loss and an interception. He was third in the Pac-12 in tackles.
Against Virginia in the season opener, Kendricks produced two touchdowns on a forced fumble and a pick-six in man coverage on a running back. That set the tone for his final collegiate season. In 2014, Kendricks dominated the Pac-12 and won the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker. He amassed 149 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two passes broken up, three interceptions and one forced fumble.
As a run-defender, Kendricks is a sideline-to-sideline missile. He has great instincts and is a sure tackler. Kendricks handles big backs and speed backs. He should be an asset quickly in run defense as a pro. Kendricks could use work on taking on bigger blockers, but he has the ability to get off of blocks and make the tackle. Kendricks produces good down-and-distance situations for his defense.
In the passing game, Kendricks is superb. He is very good in zone coverage and picks up receivers well coming into his area. He is very smart to understand what routes are coming his direction and who he will have to defend. Kendricks has some man-coverage ability as well on tight ends and running backs. He does a really nice job of tackling backs in the flat on check downs and not letting them break downfield. His pass coverage is a real asset for the NFL and will make him an every-down player.
For the NFL, Kendricks has the ability to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, and he would be a better fit for the Mo linebacker position, which is basically a run-and-chase linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, he would fit best as a Will (weakside) linebacker.
Kendricks could surprise some and might go in the middle of the first round in the 2015 NFL Draft. He shouldn't fall out of the first day.
Player Comparison: Lavonte David. Kendricks and David (6-1, 233) are very similar. Both are sideline-to-sideline tackling machines who are great run-defenders and also thrive in pass coverage. David is better in man-to-man coverage than Kendricks, while Kendricks brings a little more physicality to the field. David was a second-round pick because of size concerns in the 2012 NFL Draft. Kendricks should go in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. I think Kendricks will be a linebacker like David at the next level.
NFL Matches: Houston, Arizona, Dallas, Denver, Green Bay, Indianapolis
The highest that Kendricks could hope to go would be in the middle of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Houston has a huge need at inside linebacker. Brian Cushing isn't the same after all of his injuries, and one of the Texans' biggest needs is for an inside linebacker. Taking him at No. 16 may not be a bad value, but Houston would probably prefer to move down for Kendricks.
The Cardinals wanted to improve the speed and athleticism at inside and outside linebacker this offseason. They signed Sean Weatherspoon, but he's struggled to stay healthy, and Kendricks could be too good for Arizona to pass up.
Dallas could consider some help at linebacker, and Kendricks would be a perfect fit as a Will (weakside) linebacker in Rod Marinelli's version of the Tampa 2.
Denver is another landing spot for Kendricks in the late first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Broncos need an improvement at middle linebacker after Nate Irving didn't work out. Kendricks could play the middle for them.
In the NFC North, Green Bay would be a perfect fit. The organization moved on from A.J. Hawk and has needed a linebacker like Kendricks for years. He would be an immediate upgrade and could really thrive in the Packers' defense.
The Colts have a screaming need at inside linebacker, and Kendricks would be an immediate upgrade for Indianapolis. D'Qwell Jackson turns 32 next September, and his play looked like it was slipping last season. Adding some young talent would make sense for the Colts.