Draft Profile: Eric Kendricks, LB
Filling the Void at Linebacker for the Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins’ early offseason moves at linebacker fit most expectations, removing Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe from the team’s payroll. While releasing Wheeler was no surprise, many thought that Ellerbe could return to the team, as he was still on the roster long after the expected cut date. This speculation came to an end when the Dolphins pulled off a trade with New Orleans, swapping Ellerbe and a third round pick for a younger, cheaper player in wide receiver Kenny Stills. These moves have created an imminent need at linebacker for Miami, which will most likely be filled in the 2015 Draft.
UCLA All Time Leader in Tackles (481)
Named Team Captain for 2013 and 2014 seasons.
42 Career Starts
2014: Ronnie Lott Impact Trophy, Second Team All American, Second Team Pac-12
Eric Kendricks was a four-year player at UCLA, starting at ILB for three of those seasons. He is regarded as a “pure” inside linebacker, and is not often featured as a pass rusher. That being said, he is a Swiss Army Knife at the position, demonstrating fluid athleticism in coverage, and toughness stopping the run. Kendricks’ 42 starts leave no question as to his consistency or experience. Kendricks has also received outstanding reviews off the field, graduating UCLA with a 3.22 GPA and being named to the Second Pac-12 All Academic Team.
Critics of Kendricks often cite his size, however his build is comparable to that of Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner, who also stands at 6’0, and weighs only 10lbs more. Many critics were silenced by his 4.61 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, as well as his 19 reps on the bench press, and 10’4” broad jump. Before his combine performance, many said he lacks the speed of Denzel Perryman, or the strength of Bernardrick McKinney, two of the other premiere inside linebackers in the 2015 class. While these do appear to be fair critiques when comparing the players’ tape, Kendricks shows all around talent, and the ability to do whatever is asked of him on Sundays.
The Dolphins can rest assured, holding the 14th pick in the draft, that Kendricks will be available when the team is on the clock. Inside linebackers rarely get taken in the top 10, and Kendricks is projected within the late first or early second round. If the team is hell-bent on Kendricks as their solution at ILB, they could select him with the 14th pick, or trade up within the 2nd round if he is still on the board. Regardless of where he would be selected, Kendricks is one of the safest players in this year’s draft, and would allow Dolphins fans peace of mind knowing he can bolster the team’s struggling linebacker core.