Florida State’s defense is loaded with tremendously gifted athletes and Terrence Books is no exception. The two-year starting free safety is like a lot of Seminoles defenders as his athleticism jumps off of the tape, but so does his lack of technique refinement for the position. Brooks does a little bit of everything and has not really mastered anything yet, so he is still an unfinished product, albeit an exciting one that can flash for big time plays.
Projecting to the NFL, Brooks is a tantalizing athlete that has a ton of upside. He has great range, speed and good instincts in the passing game. Brooks is willing to support the run, but needs to do a better job with tackling and angles. He should be an instant impact player on special teams with his combination of skills. There is a possibility he could come in and be a starter as a rookie with all he can do, but he does need to continue learning technique and applying it in games. Brooks projects as a third day prospect, but his athleticism and instincts might have a team pick him in the top 100 with his long term upside.
Vitals & Build
Brooks is listed at 5’11” 200lbs with a great build for the position. He has speed, strength, and agility that make him look really impressive athletically. Brooks has shown good hips, feet, and shows instances where he has good body control, but he needs to work on refining and basically working on aiming his athletic ability to take full advantage of it. He looks ready for the NFL physically, but he should only get more impressive with time, but the key will be playing under control and simply maximizing what he already has.
Brooks’ tackling technique is incredibly inconsistent and while he has shown the ability to use good form, it is definitely the exception as opposed to the rule. He will put his head down, lunge, dive, and try to shoulder bomb opponents at various times with unpredictable results. There are plenty of examples of swings and misses as he goes for highlight plays as opposed to making the right play.
The frustrating part is that when he has used form, as rare it as it is, it has been to devastating effect. Some of this is due to the fact that Brooks tends to play a little out of control, but he is all over the field and has such great range that if he did a better job of sinking his hips, wrapping up and keeping his legs going, he could be a big time tackler.
The one thing that Brooks does do consistently is going after the football and trying to rip it out. Occasionally, he has done this at the expense of making the tackle, but he is great at coming in and trying to get the football when a guy is wrapped up or when he has a guy wrapped up, locating and trying to get the football.
Brooks has shown he is an incredibly willing run defender, who is not afraid to come downhill and fill. He has great speed and range, so he can get to the play almost anywhere on the field, but his angles and tackling form prove to be problematic. Brooks also has a tendency to overrun plays. Part of this is the speed he has, but he does not do a good job of sinking his hips and tries to change direction too high often, which opens himself up for having opponents cutting inside of him.
Brooks is also a player who struggles to take on blocks and tends to take himself out of plays in hopes of going around them as opposed to taking them on in spite of his strength. As a result, Brooks tends to be a feast or famine defender in the running game. There are some instances where Brooks does a nice job taking on blocks and keeping himself alive and able to make a play, but on the whole, it is an area of concern.
Some of this is just due to the immense about talent and athletes that the Seminoles have, which allows some of their defenders to play with an extremely risky style of play, going for big plays because if they miss it, someone else is going to make the play. It has worked for the Seminoles in college, but those are bad habits that need to be corrected going to the NFL.
Brooks shows a lot of natural ability and instincts when it comes to coverage. He is an exceptional athlete that has shown he has potential in man coverage and could potentially match up with wide receivers in the slot in the NFL. He really moves well and has natural hips that allow him to adjust quickly along with good feet and body control.
Brooks has also displayed great instincts when it comes to zone coverage and playing deep. He has demonstrated a natural feel for where plays are going and reads the play design well. Whether it is a play breaking down or seeing where a receiver could potentially end up attacking, Brooks has made plays on the back end of the secondary as well as coming up and taking away underneath plays.
The combination of his ability to read offensive plays as well as his athleticism make it so he can cover a ton of ground. Brooks needs to continue refining this and getting better at it, but he really has shown a nose for the football.
He has shown he is comfortable playing as a center fielding type option as well as playing up in the box. The Seminoles have used him all over the field and while he can occasionally end up playing out of control, he has been a versatile player that has made them able to be creative with their defensive calls.
Brooks is inconsistent with his ball skills. He will make some great plays on the football to get interceptions, but then drops passes he knows he should catch. Some of this is he is playing so fast that when the ball is deflected to him, he has no time to adjust and ends up looking worse than it is. There is an element of it where he just needs to keep working on his hands and making more of the plays he should.
Blitzing off the Edge
Brooks certainly has experience blitzing, both from the edge and in the middle of the field. He is explosive and has the speed to get into the backfield to cause havoc, but needs to do a better job with taking on blocks. Brooks is certainly capable of blowing up a running play if he has the opportunity, but his tackling issues can prove to be a problem here and he is more inclined to throw his body at the issue than break down and make the tackle.
Brooks has experience on special teams when it comes to helping block on punt returns. His combination of strength, athleticism and raw speed make him a viable option on a number of units and this could be an area where he makes an immediate impact at the next level.
Brooks is a player who might be best suited to play as a free safety, but he is a developmental option at both free and strong safety. He might have an added appeal for teams who really do not put strict labels on their safeties, because he can do a little bit of everything. Brooks has a ton of upside, but really needs to be refined in his technical ability. He has the ability to develop into a starter and then some and it just depends on how quickly he can learn and apply it.
Brooks looks like someone who could provide depth at both safety spots and make an instant impact on special teams. The possibility is there he could be a player that comes in and starts as a rookie, making a big impact if he can absorb coaching quickly.
Brooks’ game might be similar to that of Mike Mitchell from the Carolina Panthers. Mitchell was a shocking pick that caught most by surprise when he was a second round pick by the Oakland Raiders out of Ohio in 2009. Mitchell was mostly an athletic prospect that needed to refine his game and learn it. It took him a while to accomplish that, but he has found himself a home in Carolina as one of their starting safeties. That could be the same type of path Brooks has, though the team that drafts him hopes to get more benefit than Oakland did with Mitchell.
Terrence Brooks has a ton of ability and if he can refine it and harness it all, he can be a terrific safety in the NFL, regardless of whether it is strong or free. He has demonstrated a lot of natural ability in coverage, but really needs to get better as a run defender. Brooks should be able to be good on special teams immediately and has the potential to not just be a starter, but a great player in the NFL. He projects as a day three pick but he could end up going in the top 100 because of his upside and the upside that could have him become a star.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com