Production matters in the National Football League, and to that end, teams don't have to look far to see what kind of player Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers is.
Brothers, the nation's leading tackler the last two years, is a durable and tough three-year starter who racked up 274 tackles in 2014 and 2015. The 6-foot, 245-pounder from Guthrie, Okla., reflected on his journey from high school defensive end to future NFL draft pick.
“When I first got to Mizzou, I wasn't a linebacker in high school — I was a defensive end,” said Brothers, who is projected to be a second-round pick by CBS Sports. “So I didn't really know what I was doing.”
But Brothers credits defensive coordinator Dave Steckel and older linebackers like Zaviar Gooden, Will Ebner and Andrew Wilson for getting him up to speed.
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“They taught me my reads, and I constantly studied, and studied until I got it down,” Brothers said. “Now I like to think that when I see certain things happen, my instincts can take me to the ball.”
Yet, there's still one area Brothers would like to improve upon, however.
“I think coverages is one of my weaknesses, it's something I need to work on,” Brothers said. “I don't think I'm horrible, but there's a lot of places I can improve, and I've been doing that since I've been training.”
Brothers mainly played zone coverages at Mizzou, but is still honing his instincts there.
“It's more about knowing what route concepts are coming, what to expect on certain down and distance and just knowing my responsibility, in general,” Brothers said. “So as long as I know all those, I don't think it should be too hard.”
Teams that run a 4-3 defense will probably be interested in Brothers, who projects as a weakside backer in that scheme. Mizzou primarily played a 4-3, but mixed in 3-4 fronts during his career, and Brothers is confident he could fit in any defense.
“We were a 4-3 base team, but Coach Steck, he brought in a 3-4 defense my sophomore year and Coach (Barry) Odom brought in an Okie defense from Memphis,” Brothers said. “So I've played in many defenses.”
Brothers got an opportunity to show his stuff at the combine, when he ran a 4.89 40-yard dash — which was a little slower than he wanted — but posted impressive marks in the three-cone drill (6.99 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.11 seconds), which gauge a player's quickness, flexibility and acceleration.
He will have a chance to improve on all those marks at Missouri's pro day, which will take place in late March.
In the meantime, he's relishing the entire experience.
“It's a humbling experience, not many people get this chance,” Brothers said. “So I'm taking full advantage of it.”