When a player is selected in the second round of the NFL Draft, he enters the league with a certain level of expectations. It is assumed that the player will soon become a solid contributor if not an outright star.
Two years after being chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 2012 draft, Mychal Kendricks appears to be at a crossroads in his career. He hasn’t yet achieved stardom, but has shown enough flashes to make fans believe that stardom could be forthcoming.
In his rookie season, Kendricks made some big plays, but also missed a good number of tackles. In his defense, EVERYONE on the 2012 Eagles missed a lot of tackles, and it was not easy for him to play behind the “wide nines” defensive line system.
Like many of his teammates, Kendricks struggled early in 2013 as the team switched to a 3-4 defensive alignment. While he was inconsistent, he did seem to get better as the season progressed, and his four sacks and three interceptions illustrated his playmaking ability.
Entering his third season, what should we expect from Kendricks? Is he going to develop into a star, or will the inconsistency continue, preventing him from becoming anything more than an average player?
One liability that Kendricks will always have to deal with is his size. He’s one of the shorter linebackers in the NFL, and as Chip Kelly is fond of saying, “Big people beat up little people.” Shedding blockers will likely never be Kendricks’ strong suit, and if he’s forced to deal with too many offensive linemen, he will probably not succeed.
Fortunately, the Eagles appear to have the makings of a very good defensive line. The linemen did an excellent job of tying up offensive blockers last season, and that allowed the linebackers to make plays. If Kendricks is allowed to roam free, then he can use his outstanding speed and instincts to make big plays.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis did a good job of putting his players in a good position to succeed. I think he’ll do his best to make sure that Kendrick has opportunities to make game changing plays. I expect Kendricks to increase both his number of sacks and interceptions in 2014.
Kendrick’s small stature may keep him from ever becoming a dominating presence who can control a game, but years from now, when we look back at the 2012 draft, I think the selection of Mychal Kendricks in the second round will ultimately be viewed as a good decision.