The Pittsburgh Steelers decided to dip their toes back into the Terrapin pond by selecting Maryland S Antoine Brooks Jr. with the 198th selection of the 2020 NFL Draft. Many fans, myself included, wanted the Steelers to draft a LB/S hybrid attempting to strengthen two depth charts with one selection, especially considering this year's limited draft capital. It is well known that I had a particular player in mind, but obviously I wasn't the only one thinking along those lines.
The league is evolving from base defenses into a variety of subpackages, based on the opposition and team personnel. This makes the hybrid types, the tweeners if you will, even more valuable in this day and age. Like a defensive specialist in basketball, or a lefty reliever in baseball, hybrid players are beginning to carve out a vital role on NFL teams. They can provide depth at multiple positions, allowing their team to dress another player at a area of need.
Some believe this is the most logical path to NFL success for Antoine Brooks Jr. Brooks stands in at 5'11" and 220 lbs., not bad dimensions for a safety. However, Brooks excels around the line of scrimmage like a undersized LB. He ran a 4.64 forty which is functional for his skill set. Not a quick twitch athlete; but his instincts, football IQ, and diagnostic ability allows him to play even faster. Has superior read and react ability, and arrives at the ball carrier with bad intentions. He is a vicious tackler with excellent form.
Brooks loves to play downhill, and is at his best covering backs and tight ends near or around the line of scrimmage. He struggles in deep coverage, and will not make a living in the NFL if asked to do so. An interesting player comparison for Brooks on one site was the Steelers own Marcus Allen. Interesting because that very well could be the exact player that Brooks could be competing against for a roster spot. One evaluation suggested that Brooks could see snaps in the slot, depending on the matchup and need. That would have me believe he might have a slight edge in coverage over Allen. We shall see I guess.
There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal their final grades, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value.
Brooks is a hard initial value to grade. He has a specific set of skills, and he utilizes those abilities to their fullest. I can see where he could provide valuable depth at multiple positions, and he is an impressive tackling machine. He should flourish on special teams, where there is a need. That may be what puts him over the top in his battle for a roster spot, or he could land on the practice squad.
A fellow BTSC member reminded me that the Steelers coaching staff has insider information on the Terrapin players. Means a little more that they chose to draft Brooks where they did.
Based on that criteria, and until he has a opportunity to confirm his hybrid abilities within the Steelers defensive principles, I give this selection a initial grade of C.
What overall grade would you give this selection? Please vote in the attached poll and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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What overall grade do you give this Pittsburgh Steelers selection?
This poll is closed
A = Excellent selection
B = Above average selection
C = Solid selection
D = Below average selection
F = Terrible selection