Position: Running Back
Age (Draft Day): 20
Height/Weight: 6'0", 207 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.45 seconds
From the small town of Hallettsville, Texas, Jonathon Brooks' high school accolades might not have screamed blue-chip prospect. ESPN awarded him a 3-star rating, while 247 Sports saw a 4-star gleam, but it was on the Forty Acres in Austin where Brooks truly began to shine.
His freshman year offered a tantalizing glimpse of what was to come. Despite seeing action in just 3 games, Brooks averaged a jaw-dropping 6.8 yards per carry, racking up 143 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts. He even chipped in with a 12-yard reception, showcasing his well-rounded skillset.
Year two saw Brooks take a decisive leap forward. Playing in 5 games, he nearly doubled his rushing yardage from the previous year, finishing with 179 yards and 4 touchdowns on 24 carries, maintaining his impressive 7.5 yards per carry average. Though not utilized in the passing game, Brooks established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the ground.
2023 proved to be a breakout year for the Texas junior. Over 11 games, Brooks unleashed his full potential, rushing for a remarkable 1,135 yards on 187 attempts, averaging a stellar 6.1 yards per carry and finding the end zone 10 times. He also emerged as a legitimate threat in the passing game, hauling in 25 receptions for 286 yards.
Contact Balance: Brooks is a master of breaking tackles, one of the best in the nation. He runs through arm tackles with ease and sheds defenders like someone much bigger. This ability to stay on his feet and churn out extra yards makes him a rare prospect.
Pass Catching: Brooks isn't just a brute force runner. He's also a natural pass catcher with soft hands and good route-running ability. He can line up in the slot or split wide, adding another dimension to the Texas offense.
Inside and Outside Runner: Brooks can handle both the inside and outside runs effectively. He has the power to pound the rock between the tackles and the vision and speed to hit home runs on outside runs. This versatility makes him a valuable asset in any offensive scheme.
Big-Play Potential: Don't be fooled by the "between-the-tackles" label. Brooks can take it to the house in a blink. He has the burst and elusiveness to break big plays when defenses least expect it.
Speed: While not slow, Brooks isn't a top-tier burner at the RB position like Jahmyr Gibbs or De'Von Achane in last year's class. He may struggle to outrun elite NFL linebackers on the edge.
Decision-Making: At times, Brooks can show some indecisiveness as a runner. He can hesitate at the hole or miss cutback lanes, leading to lost yardage. This area needs refinement for consistent success at the next level.
Injury Concerns: Brooks is coming off a torn ACL suffered during the 2023 season. His recovery and overall durability will be a major factor for NFL teams.
NFL Comparison: Matt Forte
Brooks draws comparisons to Matt Forte due to their complete skillsets. Both are do-it-all backs who can excel inside and outside the tackles and contribute in the passing game. Forte enjoyed a long and productive career in the NFL, and Brooks has the potential to follow a similar path.
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
Despite the ACL tear, Brooks' talent and versatility make him a highly coveted prospect. He could sneak into the late first round if teams are confident in his recovery, but a more likely landing spot is the 2nd round. The team that gets Brooks will be acquiring a potential Pro Bowl-caliber RB with the ability to take their offense to the next level.