Mychal Kendricks (LB, California) game tape

Mychal Kendricks would bring speed and intensity to Seattle's front seven

Over the next few weeks we’re going to look at some of the linebacker prospects that could be on Seattle’s radar beyond round one. The Seahawks are looking for more speed in the front seven and with David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill both pending free agents, linebacker could become a key need by April. We’ll look at Florida State’s Nigel Bradham, Oklahoma’s Ronnell Lewis, Texas’ Keenan Robinson, Miami’s Sean Spence and a few others who could be potential draft picks after the first round. Today, we’re starting with California’s Mychal Kendricks – one of the combine’s top performers last week.

Game tape vs USC

Game tape vs Stanford

Tape courtesy of JMPasq Aaron Aloysius

Kendricks is a senior prospect who played inside linebacker at California. However, a highly athletic performance at the combine has led to many questioning whether he can transition to any of the linebacker positions, given his straight line speed, mobility in coverage and untapped potential. He ran an official 4.47 in Indianapolis but was timed as fast as 4.41, he had the best vertical jump (39.5 inches), the best broad jump (10ft 7 inches) and the best 20-yard shuttle (4.19 seconds) among linebackers. He had 24-reps on the bench press. You can watch highlights of his forty yard dash by clicking here

Typically players get asked at the combine who they model their game on, and this leads to inevitable comparisons to the NFL’s elite. Kendricks name-check for Patrick Willis isn’t particularly interesting, but the second part of his answer is: “Willis, that’s who I look up to. I feel like I can move the same way. Very fast, very quick, cat-like, that’s my style of play. I look at him and it’d be nice to be fraction of what he is. I’m a hard worker, tough, I want to win. I’m a competitor. I’ve been a competitor and I think my character will show for itself once I get picked up. I’m not going to sit here and harp on my character, but I mean, they can ask around and they can see I’m a good guy. I don’t get in much trouble, keep to myself, and just I just take care of business.”

We all know Pete Carroll loves a competitor and he ticks the boxes in that sense – these aren’t empty words. Lost among a disappointing season for the Golden Bears was the fact Kendricks won PAC-12 defensive player of the year. He was known to be a strong, vocal leader at Cal who often spoke his mind. For those wondering, it’s not evidently clear if he was recruited by Carroll at USC and he only had official visits to Oregon and California. He had offers from Oregon State, Fresno State and San Diego State.

He’s listed at 5-11 and weighs around the 240lbs region. When you watch the tape you instantly recognise his toughness – Kendricks isn’t someone who makes spectacular plays (only three total sacks in 2011 and two interceptions), but he’ll knife through a gap to hit a running back and he’ll chase from sideline-to-sideline to help make a tackle. He had 106 total tackles as a senior – not a total shock given his position – but it paints the picture of a player leading from the front. Kendricks does a good job changing direction and accelerating to react to a play and although he can do a better job sifting through traffic, he’s got the quicks to take advantage of an opportunity when presented.

While he didn’t do a lot of edge rushing at Cal, I think it’s something he can bring to the table particularly if he adapts to OLB or plays certain looks in the role. The key is going to be learning to use leverage at his height and whether he can consistently exploit speed against pro-lineman if he doesn’t have the reach or strength to stay clean. I’d like to see him in a defense like Seattle’s that will eat up space through the middle, look to provide a greater edge rush in 2012 and potentially have more speed at linebacker. Kendricks ability to read/react and then explode would add another dimension in the second level and another pass rushing weapon even if he plays the MIKE.

He’s generally a sure tackler but there are occassions when he gets sloppy and doesn’t wrap up, but part of this is down to the sheer amount of time he spent on the field last year. There are some concerns about asking him to cover a big tight end at the next level because he’ll be over-matched in space, but he’s got the ability to drop and react and he’s fairly fluid in his mobility to offer some value in coverage.

The Seahawks are looking for toughness, speed and intensity – and Kendricks has the full package. If they’re looking for a draft-replacement for David Hawthorne, Kendricks could very easily be the man to fit in there. Given his athleticism and potential to take on greater responsibility rushing the edge, there’s no reason why he couldn’t adapt to the WILL on certain downs. He’s expected to leave the board at some point in round two so if the Seahawks want him, they may have to take him with their second pick.


  1. david

    Kendrichs seems like a nice grab, im finding myself in a pickle here, there are so many prospects im wanting

    Martin,Polk,Kendricks,Irvin,Cousins,Osweiler and hell i wouldnt mind Floyd

    Rob where do you see Juron Criner going now, has his stock dropped, i dont recall him at the combine.

  2. Rob

    He’s had a mixed off-season. I think right now he could go anywhere from rounds 2-4. The talent is there, no doubt about that.

  3. jason

    would love in the first coples or melvin….then polk and kendricks or sean spence in 2nd and 3rd….

  4. david

    Yeah he really stood out to me in the Senior bowl i think it was (either that or the shine game i dont recall) he was making some pretty good catches.

  5. jason

    1st coples
    2nd polk
    3rd Kendricks
    4th Oswieler

    not round numbers just orders of picks I like for us…free agency could change this for sure…

  6. david

    I like Irvin, hes got some bulk he can put on, think he measured in at 6’3 245 and is fast, i want him in the 3rd if possible, prolly wont be but i can dream.

  7. Charlie

    @david he measured 5’11.

  8. kevin mullen

    That game tape against Stanford showed a couple things to me: he didn’t get completely nullified by the best OLine in NCAA and he isn’t afraid to stick his nose at the LOS. Dude can shoot through those gaps! There were a couple plays where I saw a little over pursuit and slow to disengage his blockers but with that athleticism and instincts, I hope JS/PC wouldn’t hesitate to pull his name in the 2nd round…

  9. Brad Q

    Good call, Rob. Kendricks would be a perfect fit for the hawks because of his production, speed and versatility. As you mentioned, he could easily start at WILL and support the run behind clemons or branch. plus, with kendricks speed, he could come on delayed blitzes in the gap opened up when clemons goes edge. He could also play mlb. Not sure which round he goes but doubt he’d get past our slot in rd 3. Good call.

  10. FWBrodie

    This kid can play. His weakness is obvious, he’s going to get blown out of plays once in a while due to his size, but he seems able to locate the football through traffic sufficiently. Whoever taught Kendricks how to tackle should should open a business because it’s beautiful. If he gets his hands on a ball carrier he’s bringing him to the ground. Fun player to watch. I think I mentioned this before, but his read and react times are Lofa-esque. Also like that he plays fearlessly and without hesitation, a must-have trait for a good defensive player.

  11. david

    Charlie According to CBS and walterfootball Bruce Irvin measured in at 6’3 and 245

  12. Kip Earlywine

    I think Kendricks has some nice untapped potential as an edge blitzer. It wouldn’t shock me if he had a lot of 4-6 sack NFL seasons while playing good coverage and covering a lot of ground. Not hard at all to see this guy in a future pro-bowl.

  13. Turp

    Beast mode signed to a 4yr deal, 18mil guaranteed…does that change PC/JS draft strategy at all? What’s more likely, Upshaw/RB or Upshaw/LB in the first two rounds?

  14. OZ

    I wish people would get off the Coples bandwagon. buyer beware, way overrated. I doubt if he is even on Seattle’s board in the 1st round….

  15. Phil

    Kendricks has been on my screen ever since his classic tackle of Coleman in the Cal/UCLA game. It’s one of highlights in
    He is really athletic and I can see him improving the pass rush whether he plays inside or outside. He seems to have good intensity on every snap.

  16. andy

    A quality WILL backer in round 2 should be the goal this year. Either Kendricks or David should be available when we pick. RB can wait until round 3……

  17. andy

    Or best scenario, Malcolm Smith is capable to take over at WILL and Kendricks plays MIKE.

  18. Tom T.

    Yeah, that would make for an incredibly fast LB core, but it sure seems that they would be vulnerable to injury at 235 and 240 lbs.

  19. Brad Q

    A sure tackler at WILL is imperative because our LEO and 3 tech are penetrators which leaves the weakside vulnerable to the run and Kendricks would stuff any teams thoughts they’re running left. Kendricks would also be perfect to blitz right next to clemons and having kam man the open space. Malcolm is a solid back up and special teams player and we need those players to fill the roster. Kendricks is a solid player with upside measurables and would be a real nice piece for our defense.

  20. meatwad

    Kendricks is a great LB and would fit wonderfully in Pete’s system. He could be moved outside and I watched a few games this year and I would love to see him picked up by the Hawks.

  21. Smeghead

    1st – Upshaw or Richardson
    2nd – Kendricks or Doug Martin
    3rd – Polk or Sean Spence

  22. AlaskaHawk

    Smeghead – Sounds like a good draft.
    That’s a tough choice in the third. Might want to look at a QB or receiver too.

    Who would you pick if it is between Coples and Upshaw? Would you pick the guy that might coast but has awesome physical skills, or the workman like Upshaw who has a high motor and will play every play hard?

  23. SHawn

    Love Kendricks. 14.5 TFL. Also love Ronnell Lewis. A bit slower than Kendricks but a better tackler and “meaner” player. Either would be good pickups in rd 2 or 3. Waiting for Lewis’ game tape…

    Not to beat a dead horse, but with the amount of talent that seems to be at ALL of our positions of need in rd 2 and 3 this year, I am becoming increasingly interested for us to trade down for what we can from 12. Especially if Blackmon or Richardson are there, a lot of teams will want to move up and take one of them. We could get a sweet deal for Richardson if he lasts (he won’t). Trading out of the 1st rd entirely (or almost) through multiple trade downs and possibly sending players (Gallery, Trufant, Leon) to stockpile picks in the 2nd and 3rd. Not unimaginable to see our draft coming to this:

    rd 1/2 – Hightower/Branch/Perry
    rd 2 – Kendricks
    rd 2/3 – Martin / J Worthy
    rd 3 – K Robinson / Forston / C Gray

    Even without getting one of the “top 3”, we address our needs with great value selections and impact players.

  24. SHawn

    I meant to put Martin as his own with another pick in rd 2, not a choice between him and Worthy. Also forgot to put Ronnell Lewis as a possibility in rd 3.

    high 2 – Perry
    our 2 – Kendricks
    bonus 2 – Martin
    our 3 – Worthy
    bonus 3 – R Lewis

    I would be pretty damn happy about that draft.

  25. David

    I dont see Gallery,Tru or Leon being worth 3rd round picks let alone 2nd rounders, but i like the optimism.

    Trufant- is an againg CB and has back issues and often injured, maybe a 5th or 6th

    Gallery-Well i saw how “well” he did last year, seemed to get blown up often and called for penalties quite a bit. and plus hes like what 33?

    Leon-is a kick returner and i dont think they fetch much.

    If it came down to it and we did trade back (big IF), i wonder how much a team like Cleveland or Washington would give up for our 12th pick.

  26. Smeghead

    @ AlaskaHawk – I would prefer Upshaw at this point. Coples is tempting but I really doubt his desire and fear a major lack of effort on his part…

  27. Smeghead

    I am not opposed to a trade down for an extra 2/3 which would help us pickup extra RB/LB or Osweiler/Cousins as well.

    Trufant is due a lot of money this year, so I don’t think with all those issues he would be worth much as trade bait. Sorry to see his tenure here at an end, but I love the talented youth we’ve acquired in the secondary.

  28. SHawn

    I did not mean for just themselves. Trade down along with sending them somewhere they are needed and get better picks in return. Its all about the negotiations, which I assume, Schneider is brilliant at.

    Trade our #12 and Trufant to lets say the Lions. They, like anyone, would love to see Richardson on their team. They also need more help at CB. They give us #23 and #55.

    Then we package #23 with Leon and perhaps a 4th rd and send them to Tampa, who is lacking a KR and needs more 1st rd talent. We get their high 2nd rd pick (i think its #36) and their 3rd (#69).

    That would give us no 1sts, 3 2nds (36, 43, 55), and 2 3rds (69, 76).

  29. Thomas

    A smokescreen or genuine interest?

    ‘I think the admirers for Ryan Tannehill continue to grow, despite the fact he was a part-time wide receiver at Texas A&M. This from GM John Schneider of the Seahawks: “The guy was a quarterback in high school, just a football player. First and foremost, that’s what we’re looking for. Especially at that position. Guys that have always been in the quarterback schools, the special camps, and all that kind of stuff — they make me a little nervous to a certain extent. This guy is a real football player. He played defense. You could see him last year when he stepped in, he just went out and played. He had this natural toughness about him that the players really rallied around and went on a winning streak. And he did a great job.”

  30. Smeghead

    gotcha Shawn – i like that scenario

  31. AlaskaHawk

    As you all know by now I am adamantly opposed to trading our down our first round pick. It all sounds great to get two draft picks later, but to me it shows an unwillingness to make a pick because you perceive the value isn’t there. We only pick once every 32 times, so you my as well get used to the idea that we are picking for a position – not a value spoon fed to you by a mock draft board. And as for scooping someone up later in the round – they might not be there later.

    Shawn – Some draft boards have Perry going as high as #10.

  32. SHawn

    And some draft boards have Poe as high as #3. People get silly right after the combine, and most will come back to reality by draft day.

    The value is still there at the top of the 2nd rd. Even if we don’t get Perry, we could possibly get Branch, Hightower (doubtful), or just grab Kendricks a tad early.

    My point is that this a deep draft in rd 2 talent, not so much in 1st rd talent. The guy we want at 12 will likely not be there. If he is, great, problem solved. If he isn’t trading down for what ever you can get without giving up too much value talent-wise, as well as picking up extra guys in early rds.

    5 impact players > 3 impact players, almost always.

  33. Rob

    Turp – Lynch re-signing changes very little. He was always going to be signed, either to a deal or via the tag.

    Oz – Coples is on Seattle’s radar. I don’t disagree with you in terms of buyer beware, just stating what I’ve heard.

    Smeghead – Looks good to me.

    Thomas – I believe that quote was from the combine when asked specifically about the player. I wouldn’t read anything into it. Seattle won’t draft a QB in round one this year.

    Shawn – I think it’s very likely one of the guys we want at #12 will be there, extremely likely. Which is why I do not expect any trades down the board.

  34. SHawn

    I would agree with that Rob. And Im not expecting it to happen either.

    But IF Seattle only has eyes for two of your top 3, AND both of them are gone, AND we dont rate the third much higher than who we could get in rd 2 or late in rd 1, why wouldn’t we try and move down and get more impact players in the early rds?

    We are talking big IFs and ANDs here, but that could be how it shapes up come draft day. You know Schnied is gonna pick up some extra picks somewhere.

  35. Misfit74

    When I look at some of the players the new/current regime has brought in I can’t help but think that they value height, length, and speed. Guys like KJ Wright, Chancellor and even some who didn’t make the team like LeGree cause me to think that. It will be interesting to see how much emphasis they do put on those things. They obviously like speed and have stated as much. Our corners are all height/length guys – physical players who can also run. I wonder if Wright is reason to think that shorter players or players with less length (without long arms) will be bypassed or considered less attractive targets than those who don’t measure up?

    Matt McCoy, Malcom Smith and holdovers Leroy Hill and Hawthorne are all at or above 6’0″. In fact, our our 10 listed LBs on our roster: none are less than 6′ and most are taller. Mike Morgan is 6’3, Wright 6’4, and Moten 6’2. That tells me that there may be some height benchmarks to factor in with regards to our draft-targets, but who knows. Nobody brought in by our current FO to play LB is under 6’…

  36. Smeghead

    The LB position is certain to be one of the top spots to keep an eye on. Looking forward to more analysis on the draft options there. Thanks in advance Rob!

    In other news…. No franchise tag for any Hawks..

    Leroy Hill’s charges dropped and he tested negative for pot in his system right after arrest. I still don’t think this incident was going to affect the Hawks opinion on him unless he was going to be suspended for something like 4 games. I think they believe what they say and that they will upgrade the position with speed.

    i can’t wait to see how their own FA’s fare on the market or who they want or are able to get back on the team.

  37. Richard

    Great News! Marshawn just resigned. Being in Arizona, I don’t know if this old new or new news but is good news.

  38. AlaskaHawk

    Leroy Hills charges dropped is great news. Somebody must have been gunning for him! The whole thing sounds strange.

  39. MLT

    False charges on leroy hill dropped? Is this true? If so that is great for us I would think right? A buddy of mine told me he read it on twitter.

  40. Richard

    Why do I feel like an old yellow newspaper in an internet savvy world…..Sorry folks I guess I’ll hit that “reload” before I get to excited to spread the word.

  41. MLT

    Oh kool answered sorry didn’t refresh my screen. Anyways I think that is great for the hawks. I would think we r

  42. MLT

    Oh kool answered sorry didn’t refresh my screen. Anyways I think that is great for the hawks. I would think we resign him and let hawthorne walk?

  43. Richard

    Rob, I’ve been looking forward to this column on the middle round LBs and other “Defenders”. I hope your able to include Sammy Brown in this assessment. He does have good numbers. Thanks for the heads up on him and Nigel Bradham.

  44. Richard

    Since the team has signed Beastmode, does that mean they would place the franchise tag on another player? Red Bryant or John Carlson? What would you do?

  45. Tom T.

    @Richard: Nope, it looks like they will stand pat without using it. I certainly hope they can get Red at a hometown discount. It seems that he really wants to stay in Seattle and seems like a pretty loyal guy.

  46. MLT

    I think big red is back for sure! He loves seattle and his family does to. He doesn’t come off as only $ matters type of guy to me. He will still get a good payday. I would say carlson and hawthorne have the biggest chance of not resigning and looking on to the market to see what they can get.

  47. Colin

    Red won’t get a big payday elsewhere. He’s pretty much a one trick pony with a great gig going here. He’d be foolish to leave, unless someone offers entirely too much dough.

  48. Richard

    Thanks guys, I was scoping around and picked up this article on bleacher report looks like someone else is onto a trade idea or two. Some involve Carlson

  49. Misfit74

    Richard – forgive my bluntness, but that article is garbage, beginning with the faulty premise that Carlson could be traded – at all – let alone for a premiere pass-rusher (if aging one) in Osi. Carlson is a free agent. Unrestricted free agent. General rule of my own: don’t read anything with ‘bleacher’ + ‘report’.

  50. MLT

    Due to a weak draft class carlson could get paid a lot more then we are willing to give him. I do think he will see what he can get on the market we are already tied up with miller and don’t think we will pay 2 TE those wages.

  51. Rob

    Shawn – I think they’ll explore every avenue and I do expect a move somewhere down the line, possibly in R2 or R3.

    Richard – Sure, we’ll include Sammy Brown. I have tape.

  52. Richard

    Misfit74 Thank you Sir! May I have another Sir! Ahhh……Not all sites have value and credibility as I realize and I am learning. Certainly most don’t offer the high quality and focused insight as this one does. But we all look at other sites for input and hope to offer a varied view as to what is going on, I was simply trying to offer that. Maybe on a slow day we could have a “Rate another site’s value day” (with Rob’s approval and monitoring of course). Okay Bleacher Report not good choice…..Got it.

    MLT Thanks for the input and it leads me to ask? The a for-mentioned article from the previous (Bad)site appeared to have the numbers being close on the franchise tag to value cost. And Pete Carrol is still trying to build a stellar tight end tandem right? Did the team throw out the tantem TE concept already? If we can’t have that tandem together even for one season at a reasonable cost I guess I get it. But 2 legitimate stellar RBs on the field together or on the team atleast is on the table. I mean it might still be possible to build a good offense while constructing an epic DEFENSE. Atleast I hope is. Thanks MLT for helping to school an old geezer on the realities of the NFL.

    And Rob Thank you on including Sammy Brown, their sure seem to be alot of other team forums talking about him. But I heard about him 1st, from you. Of course. Oops my son needs the laptop.

  53. Misfit74

    MLT – I agree about paying two TEs significant money. Carlson might command more than we’ll be willing to pay and I think the team is well aware of that. Also, I like Morrah well enough and we also have McCoy so the cupboard won’t be bare even if JC does move on. Sounds like the Bears are being pegged as a potential suitor. Now that Martz is no longer the OC, I could see it. He’s an upgrade on Kellen Davis.

  54. AlaskaHawk

    I haven’t seen our two tandem tight end idea work out yet. I would be willing to pay more money after they prove they are more than blockers.

  55. Jake

    I love Kendricks game… I hope Carroll and co. do too. He took flyers on 7th rounder Malcolm Smith (undersized and fast), 2nd rounder Golden Tate (undersized and fast), and traded for Leon Washington (undersized and fast), so it isn’t out of character for this FO to take a chance on an undersized guy with speed. He just seems like the ideal WLB for this scheme. According to Carroll’s philosophy, the WLB is the guy who should lead the team in tackles because the rest of the defense funnels the ball carrier to him. He can do everything Leroy Hill did last season, but with more speed (but a little less physicality). He didn’t do a lot of coverage, but he can certainly keep up with RBs and TEs, so he has the potential to excel in that aspect of the position.

  56. Kip Earlywine

    @Thomas, I can’t ever recall PC/JS openly gushing about a player and then later drafting him. I think JS is saying nice things because he knows there is a solid chance Tannehill wouldn’t reach #12 anyway, just like when Pete gushed about Bradford in 2010. Doesn’t mean that he’s putting up a smokescreen, its just easier to talk nice about a guy when you have no plans on drafting him.

  57. Jarhead

    I remember watching him against the Dawgs and remembering him. I was frustrated cause it seemed like he was single handedly stuffing our ground game. Seeing him at the combine just got me excited. I honestly believe he holds MUCH more value in Round 2 than a DE or RB. I would rather have Kendricks at LB than say a Martin or Curry or Irvin. I love fottoball players, and Kendricks just screams football player. Plus the maturity, savvy, humility, and intelligence make me hope Seattle is calling his name first thing on day 2. He is such a versitile player, that he could allow our 1st round pick the freedom to change positions to attack the LOS. When he can play M, W, or S- that gives our big rusher the chance to change HIS line of attack to the QB. Sounds like a sick sceme to me

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