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Bleacher Report – Vikings

What we’ve learned about the rookies: LB Kentrell Brothers

By Andrew Krammer

Next week the Vikings begin Organized Team Activities to kickstart the home stretch of the NFL offseason.

Easing into the organization, eight drafted rookies and more undrafted rookies spent the past couple weeks assimilating into the meeting rooms, on-field drills and strength programs. Competition will ramp up starting with the month-long ‘phase three’ of the offseason, which allows full team drills, but no live contact. The Vikings begin the first OTA on Tuesday.

Before that, let’s set the stage for some of the rookies with what we knew, what we’ve learned so far and what we’re watching for this summer.

Previously:

WR Laquon Treadwell
CB Mackensie Alexander
OL Willie Beavers

LB Kentrell Brothers

What we knew

Height: 6-0

Weight: 245

Position: Linebacker

Hometown: Guthrie, Okla.

College: Missouri

Drafted: 160th overall,

What we’ve learned

First impression

Kentrell Brothers grew up about a one-hour drive north from where Adrian Peterson played three college seasons at the University of Oklahoma. Not only did he realize the dream of being drafted, Brothers now joins one of the players he looked up to while starting his own career.

Brothers said he attended what would be Peterson’s last college home game on Oct. 16, 2006, when Peterson broke his collarbone on a 53-yard touchdown run. Six months later, Peterson was drafted by the Vikings with the seventh-overall pick.

“it’s just crazy growing up watching him and now I’m getting to be his teammate,” Brothers said. “I was at the game where he broke his collarbone and scored a touchdown. I was actually there at that game. I went to a lot of Oklahoma games as a kid, so I’ve been a fan of him growing up.”

A clear niche

The Vikings’ vision for Brothers is as a core special teams contributor with the potential to be a middle linebacker between Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Though Brothers called his college defense “a lot different” than what the Vikings deploy, general manager Rick Spielman liked what he saw from his November trip to see Missouri against Mississippi State.

Brothers forced a fumble and blocked a kick for the Tigers in that game.

“To us, the most important thing is instincts,” Spielman said. “When I was at his game against Mississippi State, in the pouring down rain on a Thursday night, I charted his tackles and he had double-digit tackles…He just made plays all over the field.”

Play overshadowed size

Brothers was credited with more tackles per game (nearly 13) than any other player in major college football last season. Under head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings prefer length at each level of the defense, though they were willing to make an exception for the six-foot Brothers. His 4.89 time in the 40-yard dash was among the scouting combine’s slowest for linebackers, though he ranked among the best in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.

“Yeah, he didn’t run great at the combine and he is not 6-3 and 250 pounds,” Vikings director of college scouting Jamaal Stephenson said. “But good players come in all shapes and sizes so we are excited about him.”

Outside of being a tackling machine for Missouri, Brothers also blocked three kicks on special teams.

“Every time that I have watched him or our scouts or coaches have watched him, he’s just producing,” Spielman said. “I think those are the things that you have to take into account, that they’re just one heck of a football player.”

What we’re watching for

Musical chairs

Continued additions at linebacker, including five draft picks in the last three years, means a familiar face could be squeezed out of the picture come September. Brothers will compete for roles on special teams with the likes of Audie Cole, Brandon Watts and Travis Lewis.

Six linebackers were kept on the initial 53-man roster last season. Ten are currently on the roster between Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Chad Greenway, Emmanuel Lamur, Brothers, Audie Cole, Edmond Robinson, Watts, Lewis and Jake Ganus.

A quick learner?

The Vikings have a logjam at linebacker with nearly every defender returning from last season joined by four offseason additions in Lamur, Brothers, Lewis and Ganus. Though Brothers is the only addition capable of playing middle linebacker, where he’ll presumably start behind Kendricks.

Opportunities come quick at that position, where the Vikings were thinned by injuries last season. Kendricks, last year’s starter in the middle, missed two games due to a rib injury. Kendricks can also play weak-side linebacker, giving Brothers the eventual opportunity to earn a two-down role on defense.

The post What we’ve learned about the rookies: LB Kentrell Brothers appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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