Eric Kendricks has learned a lot about what it will be like to play in the NFL from his brother, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks. But for the former UCLA star who figures to be among the first inside linebackers chosen in the 2015 NFL Draft, the ideal linebacker to model his game after is the San Francisco 49ers' Patrick Willis.
"I watched a lot of Patrick Willis film in college, especially. My sophomore year when I took on the middle linebacker position and I needed help in certain areas, I would kind of throw his film on and watch a (few) cut-ups and see how he pursued the ball," Kendricks said on "NFL AM" Friday. "I think it's awesome how he plays the game. I try to emulate him to a certain extent, but also use my own style."
Kendricks won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and left UCLA as the Bruins' all-time leading tackler with 483 stops in his career. If that sounds familiar, it should -- Willis won the Butkus Award himself in 2006. And if the list of past winners is any indication of Kendricks' pro future, the team that drafts him should be pleased with the investment. Along with Willis, Luke Kuechly, Von Miller and C.J. Mosley have won the Butkus Award as well.
Kendricks ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, and hasn't yet decided if he will try to improve on that mark at UCLA's pro day on March 10.