After a year away from the field, Kennedy Brooks entered the season as one of two potential prospects Oklahoma Sooners running back prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. As his teammate struggled, Brooks established himself as one of the most productive Oklahoma RBs of all time. Furthermore, Brooks’ scouting report reveals that he has some alluring attributes as a potential NFL player.
Kennedy Brooks NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Running Back
- School: Oklahoma
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 209 pounds
- Wingspan: NA
- Arm: 30 1/4″
- Hand: 7 5/8″
Kennedy Brooks Scouting Report
While Oklahoma has gained a reputation as a quarterback factory under the stewardship of Lincoln Riley (prior to his departure to USC, of course), the Sooners have produced a steady stream of exceptional running backs for the NFL. From Billy Sims, through Adrian Peterson, to Joe Mixon, the program has RB history flowing through its veins.
Can Brooks enter this club of successful NFL running backs from Oklahoma as he enters the 2022 NFL Draft? Although the class lacks a headline player, there’s impressive depth in this RB group, and the Oklahoma prospect has flown somewhat under the radar. However, he has a skill set that should lead to him hearing his name called in April.
While calling Brooks a physical runner falls a little short of the mark, he does bring some impressive physical attributes to the table. Possessing impressive lower body strength, the Oklahoma RB is able to keep his legs churning to plow his way through tacklers for additional yardage. Also, he routinely falls forward to ensure no lost yardage.
One of his greatest attributes is his contact balance. It’s rare to see Brooks taken down on the first attempt, whether at the line of scrimmage or in the open field. That said, it’s more apparent in space where defensive players are often found bouncing off him. Ankle tackles are futile against Brooks, who regularly breaks tackles for extra yardage after contact.
Brooks possesses vision, patience, and is a secure ball carrier
Brooks showcases excellent vision. He routinely finds running lanes and has sufficient athletic ability to be able to cut back to take advantage of them. Furthermore, he demonstrates patience behind the line of scrimmage to allow these lanes to develop before hitting the hole with a small amount of burst.
While he doesn’t possess excellent long speed, Brooks has showcased sufficient speed to bounce outside and gain yardage as an outside runner. And although he wasn’t routinely asked to be a receiver in the Oklahoma offense, there is some upside here too. In the limited exposure, he appeared to be a natural catcher of the football. He plucks the ball out of the air with some confidence without breaking stride.
Additionally, Brooks is a reliable ball carrier with few fumbles displayed in the games studied. He’ll provide an NFL team with a reliable running back who possesses the vision and patience to be an impactful player as part of a running back committee.
Currently, Brooks is the 183rd overall prospect on the Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board.
Areas for improvement
Although Brooks’ scouting report unveils a skill set that should see him receive more appreciation in the 2022 NFL Draft class, there are some very clear areas for improvement. Additionally, there are some athletic limitations that could hinder his ascent up the class.
Although his 4.59-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine is hardly tardy, Brooks lacks the long speed to be a home-run threat in the NFL. Furthermore, he isn’t an explosive runner who has limited small-area burst. Those two athletic limitations may limit his effectiveness in the eyes of the NFL.
On tape, there were several times where Brooks was easily chased down short of the goal line where other backs in the class would have converted for a touchdown. Additionally, that can pose a problem from a ball-security perspective. As we saw against Texas, they were able to chase him down and force a fumble. Against more fast and physical players in the NFL, that issue will only be exacerbated.
Meanwhile, a lack of exposure as both a receiver and blocker might inhibit Brooks’ stock. While he showcases some acumen as a receiver, there really isn’t a big enough sample size to adequately translate that to NFL success.
The same issue exists as a blocker. In the examples viewed, Brooks has the football IQ to sniff out free blitzers but doesn’t showcase the physical or technical attributes that lead you to believe he can be successful in this regard.
Finally, an off-field issue may raise a red flag. In 2019, Brooks was accused of mental and physical abuse. It’s important to point out he was cleared. However, the accuser maintains that Brooks was protected as a result of his status as a football player.
Brooks’ Player Profile
“Just one of the best running backs I’ve ever seen. He has a skill set that nobody else has.”
Not my words, but the words of Daniel Maberry, Brooks’ head coach at Mansfield High School. That is where Brooks made a name for himself as a hyper-productive and exceptionally talented high school RB prospect. In the talent-rich state of Texas, you have to be something impressive to make such an impact. Brooks certainly was that.
While he was productive early in his high school career, he came to the fore as a junior in 2015. Earning first-team AP Class 6A honors, the exceptional high school runner cruised to a 3,533-rushing-yard season. The mark was the eighth-most in Texas high school history, ranking alongside players like Cedric Benson, Rodney Thomas, and Kenneth Hall.
As a result, Brooks was a highly sought-after recruit. A four-star prospect and a top-50 player in Texas, he earned double-digit offers, including from Texas A&M, Michigan, and Washington. Although he’d eventually end up in Oklahoma, Brooks even flirted with the opposite side of the Red River Rivalry by attending a Texas Longhorns training camp.
Brooks committed to Oklahoma during an astounding senior season. While he didn’t reach the rushing yard totals of his junior year, he earned second-team All-American honors, was named the 2016 Offensive Player of the Year by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and took home the Landry Award as the best high school player in North Texas. Brooks finished his high school career with 7,658 rushing yards, 96 touchdowns, averaging 8.7 yards per carry.
Brooks’ career at Oklahoma
Despite his high school success, Brooks’ career as an Oklahoma RB got off to a slow start in 2017. After suffering a shoulder injury, he was forced to redshirt his first season in Norman. Nevertheless, he quickly made up for lost time when he finally hit the field for the Sooners.
Brooks rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown in his college debut against Florida Atlantic in 2018. It was the start of an incredible redshirt freshman campaign that saw him thrice be named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week.
Those three games — against TCU, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia — were part of four 100+ yard performances. Earning USA Today Freshman All-American honors, the Oklahoma RB tallied 1,056 yards and 12 touchdowns.
As a full-time starter in 2019, Brooks once again tallied four 100+ yard games. TCU and Oklahoma State would once again fall victim to his prowess. Meanwhile, he showcased his skill set in the biggest game of the Oklahoma season, rushing for 105 yards against Texas. Although he found the end zone fewer times than his debut campaign (6 touchdowns), the Oklahoma RB surpassed 1,000 yards for the second time in his career.
Brooks’ NFL Draft ascension
Due to the global pandemic, Brooks opted to sit out the 2020 season. Rather than declare for the NFL Draft, he made the decision to return to Oklahoma for one more go-around. It was a decision that paid dividends for both program and prospect, as Brooks’ performances compared to highly rated transfer Eric Gray helped adjust his NFL Draft stock.
For the third time in his career, Brooks tallied four 100+ yard performances. Meanwhile, he set the fourth-best individual yardage in the Red River Rivalry as his 217 yards helped Oklahoma secure a come-from-behind victory. Brooks also entered the Sooners’ record books as just the fourth Oklahoma RB to secure three 1,000-yard seasons in their career, ending the year with a career-high 1,253 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Despite his career production for Oklahoma, Brooks has been a little talked about NFL Draft prospect. However, he still earned an invite to the NFL Combine where he logged a 4.59-second 40-yard dash time, 31″ vertical jump, and 120″ broad jump. While he won’t trouble the early rounds in April, Brooks will be a Day 3 prospect that can add value to an NFL team for a long time.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Kennedy Brooks
Positives: Smart, instinctive ball carrier with average speed. Displays terrific patience, follows blocks, and sifts through the trash to find the small openings on the field. Gets a lot of momentum going, runs with lean, and has a strong lower body. Keeps his feet moving and falls forward when tackled. Displays good short-area quickness with the ability to bounce around piles and defenders. Effectively helps the quarterback sell ball fakes and is an outstanding blocker when required.
Negatives: Was not much of a pass-catching threat for an offense that threw the ball often. Lacks the speed necessary to turn the perimeter. Not a truly creative ball carrier.
Analysis: Brooks was a solid running back at Oklahoma, but he has limitations for the next level. He’s an undersized power runner with average speed and pass-catching ability.