Sometimes, size and speed aren’t everything. At least, not for the Minnesota Vikings in the 2016 NFL Draft. General manager Rick Spielman took a defender with the team’s fifth-round pick, selecting linebacker Kentrell Brothers out of Missouri.
The 2015 All-SEC First Team honoree led the nation in tackling (152) last year and was the Tigers’ Team MVP. Jamaal Stephenson, the Vikings’ Director of College Scouting, spoke briefly about Brothers following the selection.
“It’s not hard to like him when you turn on the tape. He makes a lot of plays, he had over 150 tackles this year.”
Though the measurable numbers for Brothers don’t jump off the screen, he’s been a consistent contributor at Missouri. In 2014, he finished with 122 total tackles and was an All-SEC second-team selection. Despite the poor Pro Day results, Stephenson believes Brothers can be successful in the league.
“Yeah, he didn’t run great at the combine and he’s not 6’3″ and 250 pounds, but good players come in all shapes and sizes,” Stephenson said. “He’s a mike backer, he’s very productive, he’s going to add depth for us.”
Brothers will immediately add depth at linebacker, but has a chance to contribute right away for the Vikings, and not on the defensive side of the football. When asked if Brothers is a considered a two-down linebacker, Stephenson emphasized the importance of special teams.
“People say that, and maybe so, but we think he gives us value because of his special teams as well.” Last year, the 6’0″, 245-pound linebacker blocked three field goals and projects to be a “core teamer” for the Vikings in 2016 and beyond.
The rookie linebacker joins a crowded group that includes Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Emmanuel Lamur, and Chad Greenway at the top of the depth chart. Stephenson called Brothers a mike, but he does have the versatility to play in the middle or on the strong side of the defense.