Position: Inside Linebacker
Size: 6'2, 241
Age: 35, 10/30/75
College: Georgia Tech
Drafted: Round 1, #12 - 1998
Experience: 13 Seasons
Salary History and Contract Status : 2/28/09, Keith Brooking signs a 3-year, $6 million deal that would take him through 2011.
1998 Draft Profile From OurLads: (Top- ranked LB) Keith Brooking - Georgia Tech - 6'2 - 243 - 4.58. A super productive 4-3 OLB who could project inside. Strong, physical, athletic, and flexible. Plays in a crouch. Bends his knees. Intense. Retreats a little on blocks at him but uses his hands and sheds well. Has good initial reactions, quick feet, and great lateral movement - flashes in pursuit - takes excellent angles and is relentless in his effort. A super on-the-move tackler who loves to jump into the action. Tough inside blitzer. Solid in coverage. Gets good depth in his drop. Can cover a slot receiver. Good on special teams. Quality prospect.
Pre-2010: Since 1998, Keith Brooking has put together a career that many would be jealous of across the league. From 2001 to 2009, Brooking missed 2 starts in 144 games and had over 100 tackles every single year. He went to Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl in Atlanta, and was not only a top shelf contributor, but also the heart and soul of the Falcons defense for the better part of a decade. In 2009, he added both quality and leadership to a Cowboys defense that seemed to need a vocal presence. During his first season with the team, they seldom used him on 3rd Downs, allowing Bobby Carpenter to play the role of Nickel LB and keeping Brooking as fresh as possible. He seemed to have quite a bit of energy as an inspirational leader and was seldom out of place with a knack for the ball finding him at key situations. His first year with the Cowboys was quite a success.
2010: The '10 season did not go nearly as well. The Cowboys were unable to find a proper replacement for Carpenter in the nickel situation, so they ended up leaving Brooking on the field in most scenarios where he was to be replaced the year before. Exposing him to many more pass coverage situations (95 more than in 2009) the Cowboys saw him targeted quite a bit more by opposing QBs. Pass coverage is certainly not his specialty as he ages and opponents know this. He had but one notable pass rush situation in '10 (his sack likely sealed the win in Houston) but for the most part his blitzes were caught up in the wash. Most disturbing was the fact that his run support - his bread and butter - dropped dramatically. According to ProFootballFocus.com he went from 3rd best against the run in '09 to only better than Igor Olshansky in the Front 7 of the defense in 2010. Did they use him too much this year? Is the collective wear and tear of his long, decorated career finally wearing him down? I would argue that all of the signs are there. He still flashes the old Brooking at times, but as the season wore on, he wore down. His games in December were his worst grades of the season.
2011 Analysis: As we look to the new season and the new scheme application of Rob Ryan, the Cowboys would seem committed to making this spot a point of emphasis for improvement. Ideally, they would like Sean Lee to prove he can stay healthy and that he is ready to take the job, because there is not a real convincing case to remain committed to a 36-year old who had his performance diminish rather sharply in 2010. Brooking is a player who needs no excuses made for his accomplishments in the NFL, but if the Cowboys wish to improve this unit, it would seem that upgrading this particular spot and Free Safety would be two of the first spots to focus on. Not only that, but one of the main issues with the defense was the inability to get a 4th Quarter stop. If players are wearing down, you must look to address that. Time waits for no man in the NFL. In the right role, Brooking can still serve a purpose, but nowhere near the 908 snaps he played last season.