Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Draft Profile: Michael Brockers - DT - LSU

The following is the 2nd in a series of draft profiles for potential 1st and 2nd round picks for the Dallas Cowboys. These profiles are put together with the specific needs of the Cowboys in mind, and is an attempt to examine their resumes and game tape to get an idea of who might fit in best with Dallas come draft day.

Michael Brockers
Louisiana State
6'5, 322
40 time: 5.35, Bench Press: Did not lift - Rt Shoulder
Dec 21, 1990 (21 years old)

One thing that is always important on draft day is making sure that you account for upside. A player may be at one level while he is merely a kid who is growing into his body, but if you can figure out where he will be at the height of his powers, you have a chance to get a real special talent who can change the face of your franchise for years to come.

Trouble is, it is this fine art that has cost countless organizations. They saw what a player could do. They squinted hard and debated what that meant in 3 seasons. And then they pulled the trigger. Only to find out that he never came close to achieving things that others imagined he could achieve. And that gives us the draft day bust.

This is not to suggest that Michael Brockers from Louisiana State University isn't an impressive specimen in the present tense. He surely is a force to be reckoned with when you pop in a tape and watch him do what he does across that LSU defensive line. At 6'5, 322, he is right in the middle of a very stout LSU defense and most running plays seem to die in his general vicinity when the opponent dares to run the play between the tackles.

He is just raw. A redshirt sophomore, who like Fletcher Cox and Tyron Smith, was also born in December of 1990. But, unlike Cox, it seems he is much further from being a finished product. If he can figure things out, he appears to have special qualities, but as of March 2012, there seems to be a lot of gray area in his game.

When watching LSU on defense, there are many other players that seem to jump off the screen first. Five different Tigers had more sacks than Brockers did this season when he bagged just 2. One sack in September at Mississippi State and one more in November at Mississippi were the full allotment, and when you watch him over the course of several games, you quickly realize that at this point of his career, pass rushing doesn't seem to be his specialty by a long shot. LSU almost never moves him around, keeping him over the right guard on the majority of occasions in the "3-technique", although they do mix up their fronts.

Against the run, he is, at times very good. He can shed his blocker and make the play when he gets leverage off the snap. However, when you watch some of the clips below you will find that he gets washed out at least a few times when a tackle joins the engaged guard, collapses Brockers, and leaves a sizable path for the running back. He had 10 tackles for loss this year, so he is winning his share of battles at the line. But, 12 explosive plays in 14 games would seldom set the world on fire in most draft rooms.

That would be accomplished by "upside". He has the ideal arm length that so excites many scouts and personnel people with 35" arms and a wing span of nearly 84". That is off the charts impressive from a measurement standpoint (Jason Pierre Paul was 34 3/4 with an 81" wingspan) and makes many salivate at what he might be capable of when he gets to 24 years of age. On the other hand, his 40 yard dash was painfully slow among the top prospects at the combine (5.36 while Fletcher Cox ran 4.79) and his bench press was an item of mystery as the NFL reported he did not lift because of an injury. However, reports from when he did lift at other times had his bench press number (19-21) well behind those at his position. Whether those reports are credible enough to question his strength is debatable, and to his credit, strength does not seem to be a giant issue when you look at the film.

Here is some youtube cut-ups for your perusal:

Vs Georgia

Here you can see him occasionally locked up with another draft prospect, center Ben Jones from the Bulldogs. Brockers went to a spin move that did not impress, was caved in on a double team run right at him, and did bat down a ball showing that considerable arm length.

Vs Mississippi State

In this matchup, he did bag one of his 2 sacks, but for the most part was single-teamed and handled by the MSU right guard. He took himself out of a play as he took the cheese and ran upfield and past a running play to his other gap. His motor seems reasonable, but he does look a bit plodding at times.

Vs Alabama

Here and in the 1st meeting against Alabama, you saw Brockers out for several plays of substance as LSU employs a deep rotation and would have Brockers on the sideline for pass situations, which would give you pause if you ponder his ability to help the pass rush in Dallas.

And then this clip is nothing more than Les Miles pouring on the sarcasm with regard to being asked about Michael Brockers tweeting about his swollen knee.

The Case For Taking Michael Brockers at #14: The Cowboys are said to have a keen interest in Brockers and that would not make them a special case. If there is one thing that draws scouts like mosquitos to a light it is a player with Brockers size in the middle of a defensive line. Is he really 322? Well, he played at about 310 at LSU. Is he a DE or a DT? The Cowboys might want to grab him at #14 if they see him as the best chance to get a special player at that spot - dependent on how the draft falls to them. But, I would cringe at the risk/reward here.

The Case Against Taking Michael Brockers at 14: Dallas doesn't need a project in their defensive line. They need a plug-and-play difference maker. When comparing him to Fletcher Cox, I see Brockers as part of an ensemble cast, where the opposition might pay more attention to Sam Montgomery or Barkevious Mingo - the two defensive end pass rushers - and yet Brockers seldom got home. Meanwhile, I saw Cox as the main focus of every game plan in the SEC to stop him, and yet he still accounted for 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in just 12 games. That ratio tells me that Cox has upside, but his present status is just fine. Brockers, if he doesn't really come along, might join Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, and Marcus Spears as other 1st round talents at the position from LSU that never quite turned the NFL on its ear like some projected. Please don't get me wrong, Brockers is more interesting than many of the other names on the list, but when it comes to "front 7" help at pick #14, I think the Cowboys can do better than this. Let somebody else bet on his upside.

Previous Profiles:
Fletcher Cox - Mississippi State


Dannyboy said...

Wow this guy seems very much like a gamble I would be disappointed to see the Cowboys make at 14.

newper said...

Thanks for the writeup. I really liked the Youtube clips supporting it. Well, I have him in a pool to win a free T-Shirt if the Bears draft him, so I just wanted to see what he was all about. Your site looks good though!