By MICHAEL FAIRLIE //
Even if the Jets can agree on a new contract with Erin Henderson to play alongside David Harris and continue his career resurgence, the team is going to need to add to its depth at the position. With Harris at the age of 32 and Henderson about to turn 30, an infusion of youth is necessary for the present as well as the future of the Jets.
After being signed in May of 2015 as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, Taiwan Jones finally made his way onto the active roster on December 18th, but he has yet to see the field. Jones is certainly a nice story, who has the size, strength, skills and attitude to step up his game, and he will likely have a chance to contribute in 2016. But with Demario Davis all but gone, it would be hard to go into the season with the still raw Jones as the only line of defense after the starting duo.
There is a decent crop of inside linebackers grading in the first four rounds of the draft, but only a few of them theoretically fit into a 3-4 system. Being that there is a good chance that Alabama’s Reggie Ragland, the highest rated of the bunch, will be gone before the Jets pick in the 20th spot in the first round, Kentrell Brothers from the University of Missouri is the next man up on most expert’s draft boards.
Personally, I see Brothers as a better fit with the Gang Green defense, and depending on how the draft goes, he might even still be around when the Jets pick in round 2.
Following a freshman season that saw Brothers record 14 total tackles in limited action, he went on to accumulate another 343 stops as well as 23.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in his three years as a starter for the Tigers. This was all capped off by a senior season in which he totaled 152 tackles with 12 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Over the past two years, Kentrell has compiled more tackles than any other player in college football, and he had a double-digit tackle total in 11 of his 12 games as a senior.
In addition to his impressive performance in Mizzou’s starting defense, Brothers looks to be a solid special teams contributor in the NFL as he is a tackling machine who also had multiple blocked punts during his college career. In his senior season alone, he was second in the nation with three blocked kicks.
Having another able body in special teams coverage would do the Jets a world of good after an awful campaign in that area this past season. What is even better than him filling a role on special teams is the fact that he projects to be a solid starter in the league for years to come.
A player with outstanding instincts and awareness, Kentrell Brothers is a master at identifying offensive formations and foreseeing play calls. He has an amazing ability to quickly shed blockers and has repeatedly shown his ferocity as a devastating open-field tackler.
Besides his tenacity as a true thumper, he is also a versatile player who recorded five interceptions and four forced fumbles in his time with the Tigers. Starting 40 straight games over the last three years, Brothers is an incredibly durable athlete that has consistently displayed the capacity to play through pain.
Although he is a beast against the run, Brothers has his limitations in pass coverage, often becoming overly aggressive with a tendency to get caught out of position. Not the most agile defender, he struggles to change direction once he is turned around and does not have the acceleration to catch up to ball carriers who have turned up field.
Kentrell also lacks the optimal height and arm length for the position, but, as we have seen on numerous occasions in the past, perseverance and intuition can make up for a lot of physical limitations.
A true wrecking ball in the middle of a defense, Brothers would make an excellent addition to the Jets front seven. Learning from the likes of grizzled veterans David Harris and Erin Henderson as well as the Jets coaching staff could set Kentrell up to be the eventual replacement for Harris.
It is all going to depend on how highly Mike Maccagnan and the Jets scouting staff rank Brothers and how far he falls in the draft, along with who are the best players available at the time. The Jets could certainly do a lot worse than adding a player with Brothers’ ultimate potential to the roster.
You can read my Jets Pre-Combine Mock Draft article from 2/24/16 by clicking below:
You can read my article from 2/19/16 on NYJetsNews.Com about a few options for the Jets in the 1st Round of NFL Draft by clicking the following link: