Benedictine College Preparatory
Penn State Nittany Lions
It is crucial for college prospects to deliver when presented with an opportunity. This pro-ready, athletic linebacker seized the starting job in 2021 NFL Draft first-round pick Micah Parsons’ absence and thrived. A fluid and twitchy linebacker, Ellis Brooks is a pre-snap communicator and team leader who can impact the game in run and pass defense. The Penn State defender is capable in man and zone coverage and even has the movement skills to work downfield in Tampa Two. Brooks rarely bites on route salesmanship in man and has the loose hips to stick with tight ends, running backs and receivers. In zone coverage, he plays with sound spatial awareness and route recognition. He uses his advanced understanding of leverage to cut routes off in both man and zone. Against the run, Brooks dodges blocks with change of direction, burst and impressive hand usage. He also reduces blockable surface area on his way to the point of contact. When he lands his hands first, the Nittany Lions’ standout can work through opponents. What’s more, he recognizes plays quickly and has a knack for navigating traffic and tracking down the ball carrier. When the instinctive linebacker plays patiently, he easily evades blockers and fills the right gap. Further, Brooks is a safe tackler when he lands a shoulder pad on his target. A hard hitter, he uses leverage to maximize his stopping power at the tackle point.
Although he projects as a starting linebacker in the NFL, Penn State’s standout defender is far from a perfect product. Put simply, Brooks sometimes plays too aggressively and finds himself in poor position in coverage because he trusts his eyes too much. The Nittany Lions’ star struggles to bring defenders down with arm tackles. Further, he tends to play the ball carrier’s inside leg when working downhill. The athletic defender fails to properly read the mesh point and takes himself out of the play too often both against play-action and the run. Similarly, he removes himself from contention to make a tackle by focusing on shooting gaps and working through half-man when he should emphasize lane integrity. He can, likewise, lose gap discipline by incorrectly anticipating the play, overcommitting and being washed out. His tendency to press the line early sees him caught in traffic with blockers landing hands to his frame. Opponents blow him up when they successfully punch his chest. What’s more, he is overeager at times to occupy blockers when he should be prioritizing the ball carrier. In coverage, Brooks can bite on play-action and lose depth in his zones. Brooks’ long speed is good not great.
Versatile three-down linebackers can be valuable pieces of an NFL roster. Ellis Brooks has experience covering tight ends, running backs and slot receivers in man coverage; similarly, his burst and loose hips allow him to handle zone coverage at all three levels of the defense. Against the run, Brooks beats blocks with refined hands and quickness. That said, he is currently impatient and struggles to read the mesh point and take proper downhill angles. Brooks projects as a WILL or MIKE in the NFL. With coaching in training camp, he can learn to play with cautious aggression. Brooks is a high-floor prospect who can start early in his career.
Born June 12th, 1999 in Richmond, Virginia to parents Jessica and Keith Brooks Sr. The rising fifth-year senior has two brothers, Adam Randolph and Keith Brooks Jr., and one sister, Alexis Brooks. A psychology major, Brooks hopes to one day own his own business. Listed as a 4-star recruit by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, the Benedictine College Preparatory product was a four-time letterman and two-time team captain in his high school career. He also lettered in baseball, basketball and track and field. Brooks started in the Under Armour All-America Game, was selected as first-team USA Today All-State as a senior, was named VISAA first-team All-State three times, earned first-team all-region in his senior year and second-team all-region in his junior year. Moreover, he was named Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro first team as a senior. In his decorated high school career, Brooks claimed all-conference laurels three times. After redshirting his true freshman season, the linebacker appeared in 13 games in 2018. He made 30 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one half-sack and an interception. As a third-year sophomore, Brooks appeared in 13 games and put up 39 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. In 2020, Brooks made nine starts and led the team with 60 tackles. What’s more, he recorded 5.5 tackles for loss (fourth on the team), one sack, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles (best on the team) and one pass breakup. He was a key member of Penn State’s defense in 2021. The on-field standout has been promoted to first lieutenant.
Ezring: Athletic linebacker prospect capable of impacting the game against the run and the pass thanks to his impressive movement skills and refined hand usage when taking on blockers.
Current Player Value/Potential Player Value
7.9 / 8.5
Floor/Ceiling: Low-Level Starter / Reliable Starting Linebacker
Scheme Fit: Scheme-Versatile MIKE or WILL
Grade: 2nd-3rd Round
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