* (Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held April 30-May 2, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks).*
Honors:Kendricks was named first-team All-American in 2014. He also won the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker, and the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's top defender in both character and on-field performance.
Key stat: UCLA's all-time tackles leader with 481 for his career. He led the nation in solo tackles in 2014 with 101, and he finished third in total tackles with 146. Kendricks finished with at least 10 tackles in 11 of the Bruins' 13 games. He is also the brother of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks.
Where He's Projected: Kendricks is widely considered one of the only stand-up linebackers with a first-round grade, depending on how you feel about Mississippi State standout Bernardrick McKinney. He should be there when the Cowboys pick at No. 27, and it's even possible he'll last into the second round. It's unlikely he'd last until the Cowboys' second pick at No. 60, however.
How He Helps the Cowboys: His fit isn't as obvious now that the Cowboys have re-signed Rolando McClain, as the linebacker corps suddenly looks very full with McClain, Sean Lee, Jasper Brinkley and Anthony Hitchens all expected to play big roles in 2015. Kendricks could be a pick for the future, though – McClain is only under contract for one year, while Lee has an extensive injury history to worry about. He could provide added insurance at both strong side and weak side linebacker, with an eye on a starting role in future years.
Scout's Take: Stays square to the line and finds the ball. Will take on blockers and although not always successful, he will find ways to hold his ground. Size limits him here more than strength or willingness. I thought he played bigger than his size. Has a feel for how to get off blocks and avoid. Wrap-up tackler. Puts himself in the right position to make the tackle. Will extend his hands to control blocker than quickly shed. Plays with outstanding balance. When he sees the ball, he is gone. Is a sideline-to-sideline player in every sense of the word. Reacts to what he sees, doesn't over commit. Can tackle in space. Outstanding technique. Will wrap up and get his man to the ground. Hard to block when on the move. Can work through gaps and creases. Can play the back man-to-man. Understands how to carry the back up the sideline on the wheel route. Aware on his zone to flat drops. Keeps his eyes open. Knows how to defend the screen and routes that go underneath. Is a hard player to fool scheme-wise. Size might not be ideal, but he is always around the ball. Has a knack for creating turnovers whether it's jarring hits or putting himself in position for interceptions. Never stops in his pursuit of the ball. If you are looking for a play making Mike or Will linebacker in the draft, this is your guy. -- * Bryan Broaddus*