With the Steelers almost certainly not choosing to resign Ryan Clark , the safety position will become a position of need in the upcoming draft. In a weak class for the safety position, Florida State University's Terrence Brooks has stood out on tape.
With the talent Florida State had on the defensive side of the football the 5-foot-11 , 197 pound Terrence Brooks has gone largely unnoticed on a national level. Brooks started his career at Florida State as a backup cornerback. He spent two years at that position seeing playing time in spots or on special teams. In 2012 Brooks was switched to the free safety position in the Seminole defense. He finished his first season at safety with 51 tackles, one tackle for loss, four pass breakups, and two interceptions. In 2013, his second season at safety, he looked more comfortable at the position. He finished the year a national champion with All-ACC honors, 56 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, five pass breakups and two interceptions.
Brooks has quite a few strengths in his game. Despite his lack of ideal height Brooks has a well built frame. It is highlighted by an explosive lower body. The biggest thing that stands out on field is Brooks' above average athleticism for the position. Brooks accelerates to full speed quickly and has good top speed for the position. It is because of this speed he has the good range required for a free safety ask to play a centerfield role. The play below highlights this skill.
In this play Brooks starts in the center of the field. He is reads the eyes of the QB and see he start his throwing motion. This gives Brooks an early jump on the deep nine route down the left side line. Brooks flashes his exceptional range with his acceleration. With the help of a slightly underthrown ball, he is able to make a nice diving interception outside of the numbers. This is not an easy play to make and it highlights both Brooks' range and his ability to read a QB. . I can guarantee you that Ryan Clark would not have been able to get outside of the numbers on this play. It is this range that makes Brooks an enticing prospect
As a former cornerback, Brooks also shows quick feet and looks comfortable when asked to cover the slot. He has decent hip fluidity and balance in his backpedal. Since he isn't a larger safety he is able to change directions well. While man to man coverage isn't his best attribute he should be able to cover slot receivers effectively enough for most defenses in the NFL.
Brooks is also a very physical safety in the run game. Often times he was dropped into the box when offenses showed run formations. He shows a good ability to move through the play and keep himself free from blocks. He also has good hand placement when taking on blockers. Despite his size Brooks is a big hitter and enjoys the physicality of run defense.
In this play Brooks sees the receiver motion and is alerted to the possible end around. When the play starts, he sees the hand off. He immediate starts to flow in the direction of the play and notices two routes the receiver can take, inside the blocker or outside. Knowing his linebacker has inside responsibility, he starts to head to the outside. When he sees the receiver make the decision he accelerates making the tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
The first major weakness of Brooks is his size. He has below average arm length at 30.5 inches. These shorter arms make it even hard for him to get off of a linemen's block. Even more concerning is his hands size of 8.5 inches which is below the average size of the players at his position. While Brooks makes up for his lack of length with an explosive leaping ability, his hands size hurts him when trying to make an interception.
In this play Brooks has a deep middle assignment. He does a nice job of reading the QB's eyes and makes a break on the post route. He goes up to get the football but can't come down with it even though it hit right off his hands. This has happened to Brooks before and is one of the reasons he has nine pass breakups over the last two years but only two interceptions. In short his hands are unreliable and not because he doesn't excel at making a play on the football but because he fails to hold onto the pass when he does.
Outside of the physical weaknesses Brooks has a few others. When flowing to the ball carrier Brooks takes aggressive angles and come at the player full speed. This has led to some big hits but also to quite a bit of missed tackles. He needs to do a better job of breaking down before the tackle. He is also a bit of a "launcher" when tackling. He will throw his body at the offensive player to take him down making a few arm tackles. As you can imagine, this once again led to a few missed tackles. Brooks will need to do a better job of bringing his arms and hips though on the tackle to "wrap up" the ball carrier instead of launching himself at the ball carrier.
With only two years at the safety position Terrance Brook should only continue to get better with his on field awareness. He is a versatile safety who is able to be physical in run support but also has impressive range in coverage. His speed, and change of direction are both above average for the position and he has added value being comfortable when covering the slot. Brooks plays the football well and showcases an impressive leaping ability. Some teams will mark him negatively for his under 6-foot frame and short arms. Others will mark him off for his unreliable hands, wanting a playmaker at the FS position instead. Regardless Brooks is a football player and one who can start in the NFL which is great value considering he is expected to be drafted near the end of the third round or the beginning of the fourth. The Steelers have never been too concerned about the size of their safeties and while they may be concerned with his hands, Brooks does everything they expect of their free safeties and should be on the teams radar as a great value come April.
- Jordan Matthews is not a one trick pony
- Senior Bowl Day 2 recap
- Ra'Shede Hageman, explosively strong and quick
- C.J. Mosley smart and athletic, will be high pick
- Mike Evans locates ball well, limited route runner
- Dennard a good, not great, cornerback
- Ohio State's Shazier shows tremendous explosion
- Stephon Tuitt excels in versatility
- Marqise Lee shows great improv instincts