2020 NFL Draft | Would Jordyn Brooks be a reach in the first round?


During every NFL Draft cycle, there are “late risers,” or prospects that have their stock seemingly gain steam just days before teams begin selecting. In a lot of these cases, it happens because info about NFL team interests start to leak out to the media. While NFL Draft analysts are evaluating the same game tape, NFL scouting departments are searching for specific positional skillsets. This causes them to value prospects at different levels than some analysts, until those valuations become more common knowledge.

One prospect that could be considered a late riser during this NFL Draft cycle would be Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks. With 108 total tackles this past season, Brooks became a more active inside linebacker for the Red Raiders as a senior. He accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but didn’t participate due to injury. However, he was able to heal enough to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, posting a 4.54 time. 

Brooks had shown his athleticism on film, but that time allowed him to regain his standing as one of the best linebackers prospects in a generally weak class at the position. For some NFL teams, apparently his standing is at the very top of that linebacker class.


Had Brooks been able to compete at the Senior Bowl and in the rest of the Combine athletic testing, it’s possible that he would be seen in the same light as LSU’s Patrick Queen or Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray. However, it’s possible that independent analysts are underrating Brooks because of his pre-draft process while NFL teams are more comfortable with his projection because they know exactly how he would fit in their defensive scheme.

I looked into Brooks’ film to see if he had really had the traits of a potential first-round draft pick.

Almost instantly while watching Brooks’ tape, his closing speed and range stood out. He rapidly takes away space when chasing down a ball carrier, showing off his blazing speed for a player of his size. His quickness allows him to track down plays from the backside, showing range all the way to the far sideline.


Brooks has a unique blend of straight-line speed when he opens up and agility in tight spaces. When tracking the running game, he’s able to avoid blocks or find creases using his nimble feet and explosiveness. He’s a consistent finisher (224 solo tackles in college) when he’s able to get by offensive linemen, making plays in space or near the line of scrimmage.


Brooks (6-1, 240 pounds) doesn’t have much production against the pass despite being a four-year starter in the wide open Big 12 conference. With just six passes defended and two interceptions in his college career, there are some warranted concerns over his projection in this area.

On his game film, Brooks shows potential on passing downs if he’s used correctly and not over burdened. He’s shown the ability to carry a seam route, pressure the pocket as a blitzer off the edge, and even be a quarterback spy in space. He’s adept at enough simple coverage responsibilities and other aspects of a passing defense that he won’t be a liability if some thought is given to his usage and role.

With his limited coverage profile less of a concern due to his other attributes, there’s really one aspect of his skillset that I would label as a true “weakness.” Brooks doesn’t have many reps when he attacks the line of scrimmage, stacks an offensive lineman and is able to shed the block. His lack of engagement gets him caught in the crossfire on some reps where he tries to scrape as well, which limits the true potential of his range. He’ll need to develop his hand usage and extension in order to defeat blocks and contact against NFL offensive linemen and tight ends.

In a nutshell, Brooks has the athletic profile, strength and range to project as a standup linebacker regardless of defensive front. He has the skill-set of many modern NFL linebackers, with his best reps happening behind the line of scrimmage (20 tackles for loss in 2019) or outside the tackles. While he was involved in more coverage reps than some other top linebacker prospects, his projection there is limited and there is concern over his ability to handle downhill runs.

Brooks has a solid projection to the next level, and it’s difficult to see him failing because of his advanced range and athletic chops. Compared to projected first round pick Murray, there shouldn’t be much distance between them as prospects because they both have similar concerns. That means that it’s entirely possible that Brooks could be in play during the late stages of the first round, or early portions on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.