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Can Mychal Kendricks Be the Next London Fletcher

Let’s face it boys and girls, London Fletcher is not getting any younger. While I wish I could sit back here and say with confidence that he will continue playing at his current level for the next three years (assuming the Redskins actually resign the guy), the truth is that is not realistic. Even in a perfect world where the Redskins do bring their captain back, the reality of the NFL is that the clock is ticking.

Now is the time for the Redskins to begin to groom a replacement that will make transitioning to a life without London a little easier.

Resident SOW Draft Guru Justin Partlow breaks down Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks and asks if he can be the guy to lead this defense.

While undersized and sometimes overlooked, Mychal Kendricks is still seen as one of the better ILB prospects in the 2012 draft class. With a knack for making tackles and finding the football, Kendricks has proven to be a true leader for the Cal Defense. The question though for many will be can he stack up against the big time OL in the NFL? That question will be answered throughout this profile as I really like Kendricks and think for the Washington 3-4 D he’s a very good fit.

Strengths: 3 things really stick out for me while watching Kendricks. Those are his tackling ability, blitzing skill and his coverage.  When I watched a few cut ups of film on him I really was taken aback by his tackling ability. While he’s not a big guy who’s not going to wow anyone with his frame, he is a form tackler who can pack a good punch to his opponent. Unlike a guy like Burfict who tries to intimidate his opponents on the field and then use poor tackling to get by, Kendricks instead uses his play on the field to make sure O coordinators will game plan for him.

Another thing that was impressive was watching Kendricks blitz the QB. It almost reminded me a bit of watching London Fletcher here in the 3-4 D.  He just sits backs and waits while everyone else takes off first and then will fly into the backfield and get after the QB or RB. It was impressive because this one cut up from draftbreakdown.com showed a great blitz by Kendricks on Andrew Luck.

Check out that clip from about the: 36 second mark and watch him sit behind and wait then take off and get Luck for the sack. That was impressive and the times I watched him blitz on film, he did the exact same thing. In our 3-4 D we need guys like that who can get after the QB but also play calm and get after the QB. It’s one thing to be a guy who can blitz, but it’s another thing to be an effective blitzer.

Finally let’s get to his coverage. It’s almost a bit underrated because at times it really doesn’t stick out on film, as he’s just a LB. When watching the film though, he really does a good job on covering guys who are obviously bigger than him. He needs work on his technique, but also think of it this way; really what players coming out are perfectly sound on technique? With a year of seasoning per se and the ability to sit under one of the top ILB’s in football in London Fletcher, Kendricks really could have the chance to shine and be a starting ILB.

Weaknesses: Really there are two weaknesses that I see from Kendricks that really stick out. There are others that are more minor but for the sake of this profile I’ll stick to the major ones. Kendricks will have problems with his height as well as his ability to almost overrun the play at times.

First off let’s talk about his height. Look I hate to do it, because players shouldn’t always be judged on height/weight/speed if you always do that then you need to sign up be an Oakland Raiders scout or front office guy (I kid I kid). What the truth is though that Kendricks is a smaller guy, so he will have difficulties at times matching up against big time TE’s who are 6’4 or 6’5. It’s not something that should be the end all be all with him in terms of deciding to draft him or not, but at the same time it’s something that scouts will mark negatively and will be the reason why he’s going in the 4th round range instead of the 2nd round. Kendricks though uses his size to his advantage, which is a positive to watch at the same time. What Kendricks needs to do is continue to use his height as an advantage, but at the same time it wouldn’t surprise me if teams did take him off the field on 3rd downs or obvious passing downs.

Also the other negative that shows up on film, is that while Kendricks for the most part does play the run and pass well, he has a tendency on running plays to overrun and end up letting big gains occur. A couple of times on the film I watched, I saw him just barely overrun the play, but by him overrunning the play another 5-10 yards were gained on the play. This is more of a technique and reading of the play flaw with Kendricks that can be taught, but also like I said you need to give him time to develop and learn.

So where does Kendricks fit? I love the idea of Kendricks in Washington as a 4th round pick. Bring him in, let him sit and learn and come in on certain downs and get his feet wet and then let him take over when London Fletcher retires. Kendricks has potential to be a starter and because of his size will fall on draft day, but look for Kendricks to become a starting caliber guy whether it be for Washington or another 3-4 team that I expect him to go to.

Big thank you to draftbreakdown.com for the YouTube cut up used in the draft profile.

Justin Partlow is the resident Draft guru at SonofWashington.com. For more great Redskins and NFL related info hit up Justin on Twitter @JTPartlow21.

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About Ray Smith

Ray Smith is the Head Writer and Senior Editor of www.sonofwashington.com as well as the Host of the SonOfWashington Podcast. Follow Ray on Twitter @SonOfWashington

Posted on March 8, 2012, in Uncategorized, Washington Redskins and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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