The top defensive tackle in our 2012 NFL Draft rankings—what is it that makes LSU's Michael Brockers the best of the interior defensive linemen?
Having viewed six of the LSU Tigers' games from the 2011 season, here's our breakdown of the talented Mr. Brockers.
Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU No. 90
|Height||Weight||Arms||Hand||40 time||Bench||Vertical||Broad||3 cone|
|6'5"||322 lbs.||35"||9 7/8"|| |
The first thing you notice watching Michael Brockers is that he has very good burst out of his stance and that he's double-teamed or chipped on almost every play.
Brockers was rarely taken on by one man, even when facing an All-Conference center like Ben Jones. Georgia used their guard and center to combination-block him—either through chips or true double-teams—on every passing down.
That said, Brockers does need to develop here. He lacks a solid second move and will get stood up at first contact. He's raw, but there is potential for him if he can learn to split the gap instead of taking on the man (which could be schematic) and improve his arsenal of moves.
Brockers may not rack up a ton of sacks, but his pressure numbers and hurries will be among the best of any defensive tackle in this class.
Brockers does well as a run defender. He's strong at the point of attack, uses his long arms to keep blockers from getting in to his body and has natural pursuit skills. Where he can improve is in using his hands better to disengage.
The strength that Brockers has cannot be coached, nor can his length in being able to disrupt plays, even when driven away from the hole.
Brockers had been criticized for repping out just 19 bench-press reps of 225 lbs. at the combine—a but NFL officials later confirmed that Brockers did not lift at the Combine. He will lift at his Pro Day.
Brockers isn't a mammoth tackle that will throw around blockers, but he has a nice foundation and good "power-train" strength (calves, thighs, butt, core) to power through a single blocker.
Brockers is raw and will benefit greatly from an NFL strength-and-conditioning program. Unlike others who are weight room strong but don't use it on the field, Brockers' strength matches up.
Brockers is tough to grade here due to LSU's defensive scheme. His assignment, at times, was to take on blockers and allow the linebackers to make plays—especially in the run game. But when asked to pass-rush, Brockers occasionally failed to come off blocks clean.
When blocked one-on-one, he was much better, but if chipped or double-teamed, Brockers can be shut down. He must use his hands better to free himself from blockers. One plus area was his ability to use his long arms to keep blockers at bay; now, he has to learn to free himself from blockers to make the play.
Brockers' leverage was solid at the point of attack, and he has the strength to break free. It's just about using his ability.
The "leaked" Michael Brockers workout videos show a big man moving with quickness and power. The LSU defense limited what Brockers could do, as they had him lining up head-up on the blocker on every play.
The videos here are a glimpse at the quickness that will be exploiting the "A-B" gaps on any given play in the NFL.
Brockers has a very good first step, which can catch blockers off guard. LSU liked to line Michael up over his blocker versus in the gap. If lined up in the gap, Brockers' quickness could be used to penetrate the line more. As their scheme was set, he was asked to take on the man and not the gap, which limits penetration.
Burst is not something Brockers has to worry about. His short-area quickness—as shown in his very nice three-cone drill time—is elite.
A former high-school linebacker, Brockers is used to making tackles in space.
Michael has the closing speed to chase down ball-carriers and shows good form when bringing them down. He doesn't go for a kill shot, instead aiming low and hitting the back squarely in the stomach.
Brockers could be more aggressive, as he'll too often go for an easy leg tackle instead of driving himself through the runner and causing punishment that can be the difference in the fourth quarter.
Brockers can get too tall, giving linemen a bigger target to block. One area that can immediately be coached up is that Brockers lets his feet go dead, which allows offensive linemen to move him easier. If Brockers is taught to churn his feet and fight against the blocker, he'll eliminate being walled off so easily.
NFL Comparison: Calais Campbell, Defensive End, Arizona Cardinals
Too many want to make the comparison to Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants. That comparison is far off the mark from the type of player Brockers really is.
Calais Campbell is among the best 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL due to his athleticism, length and ability to work off the tackle in an isolated blocking situation. Like Brockers, he is tall (6'8") with strength that had to be developed upon entering the NFL.
Campbell's abilities match up well with an ideal situation for Brockers. Asking Brockers to play in a five-technique as a 3-4 defensive end is the best fit for his abilities today. Brockers does flash the potential to be disruptive as a penetrator in a gap-based 4-3 defense.
Michael Brockers carries a solid top-10 grade—based both on what he can do today and what his abilities show he can become. Few players leave college as finished products, which is why draft prospects fail and succeed on a high level. Brockers has the potential to be an elite defensive end or defensive tackle (scheme depending) if developed.
Brockers is an investment. He will be able to contribute early, much like J.J. Watt did in Houston during his rookie season. Asking or expecting Brockers to be a 10-sack player is unrealistic and does not fit the type of athlete or football player he is.