The New York Giants have needed to upgrade their linebacker unit for years now. They simply need better, faster play from their linebackers to contend with how the NFL is employing tight ends and running backs in the middle of the field.
The Giants’ need for athletic linebackers has only increased after the release of veteran Alec Ogletree. And while the Giants need starters, they also need depth at the position as well. Jordyn Brooks out of Texas Tech has all the athleticism an NFL team can ask for from an off-ball linebacker with good size and experience playing against spread offenses looking to score on every play.
With the proliferation of spread concepts at the NFL level, a player like Brooks is certainly worth a close look for a defense in need of multiple linebackers.
Prospect: Jordyn Brooks (LB, Texas Tech)
Games Watched: vs. Ole Miss (2018), vs. Oklahoma (2019), vs. Baylor (2019)
Red Flags: Groin (2019)
Games Played: 46
Tackles For a loss: 32.0
Forced Fumbles: 2
Games Played: 11
Tackles For a loss: 20.0
Forced Fumbles: 1
Best: Range, athleticism, play speed, tackling
Worst: Processing speed, angles
Projection: A nickel linebacker with scheme versatility and starting potential.
Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks has good size, excellent athleticism, and impressive production as an off-ball linebacker. He is used as both an outside and inside linebacker by Texas Tech’s defense and he plays on all three downs. Brooks does a good job of keeping eyes in the backfield, diagnosing what he sees, and quickly taking an accurate first step to meet the play. In run defense he shows a good feel for anticipating the runningback’s path, and coming downhill fast to fill the hole. Brooks does a good job of using his hands to keep blockers from locking in on him and does a good job of striking blockers’ chest plates when he has to stack and shed.
Brooks is comfortable dropping into zone coverage, keeping his eyes in the backfield and reading the quarterback. His athleticism shows up with very good range and a strong closing burst to make a play on the ball or to make the tackle.
His athleticism and processing show up again as a blitzer. TTU used Brooks as a blitzer in the middle and off the edge, as well as a quarterback spy when playing teams with athletic passers. Brooks does a good job of sifting through traffic, timing his rushes, and shows an impressive closing burst to finish the play.
Brooks is a good, reliable tackler, always preferring to wrap up and limit potential yards after contact than to try and lay a big hit. His tackling form is as good in space as it is close to the line of scrimmage.
Brooks’ mental processing and play speed made a jump between 2018 and 2019, but he still has work to do in that area. There is a slight pause between sight and action for him, as though he needs a beat to confirm what he initially saw. Brooks also needs to improve his angles to the ball and his aim-points. There are times when his angles are inefficient and negate his athleticism and others where he can run right past the ball carrier, rather than make a tackle.
Overall Grade: 6.2 - Has the traits to be a potential starter, but a high floor as a good back-up or rotation player. A value later in day 2 or the early middle rounds. [Grading Scale]
Jordyn Brooks is most likely a nickel linebacker in a variety of defenses. He has impressive athleticism and range in space, which is becoming increasingly important at the NFL level. Brooks is also showing definite trend upward, both in play speed and production, so it is entirely possible that he becomes an every-down starter at the NFL level.
Brooks has plenty of athleticism and range to play as an off-ball linebacker in space, dropping easily into coverage and even showing the ability to play in man coverage against tight ends and running backs. He does a good job of keeping his eyes in the backfield in zone coverage and plays fast once he decides where to go. He triggers quickly and commits fully to his course of action, and can get where he’s going in a hurry.
He shows good feet to sift through traffic and hands to fend off blockers as a run defender, as well as an impressive closing burst on running backs or as a pass rusher. As a QB spy he has good patience and discipline, as well as the wheels to keep up with (or run down) most quarterbacks on the move.
Brooks showed impressive competitive toughness at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine to attend and compete in the 40-yard dash. He is recovering from season-ending groin surgery and only had about a week and a half to prepare for the event. Even so, he ran an impressive 4.54 second 40, which not only shows off his competitiveness, it also hints at his athletic ceiling.
Brooks made visible improvements in the mental aspect of the game. There were significant pauses between sight and action in his 2018 tape, but he played much faster in 2019. His improvement was noticeable enough that there should be hope that he can almost entirely eliminate them and play much more instinctually with more coaching and film work. If so, Brooks would make it very difficult to take him off the field.