The interest in the Miami (Ohio) guard is interesting on two levels. One, the Packers are set at guard with two young, ascending players in Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. Second, at 6-foot-4 and 353 pounds, Brooks clearly doesn't fit the mold of the Packers' offensive linemen, though the Packers have trended toward bigger linemen in recent years with Ray Dominguez (334 pounds), Derek Sherrod (321), Lang (319) and Sitton (318) in recent years.
Perhaps Brooks is somebody coach Mike McCarthy had in mind when he spoke of the need to upgrade the running game. In three seasons as the starter, Miami rushed for 40 touchdowns. Of those, 35 came behind Brooks' blocking, according to the scouting of longtime NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas, who is providing draft content for Packer Report.
Brooks was arguably the biggest snub of the Scouting Combine, and he amplified that belief with a stellar pro day workout on March 1, when the massive drive blocker proved to teams that they made a mistake when they didn't invite him to the Combine. Brooks, who could go as early as the second round, completed 36 reps on the bench press, had a vertical leap of 32 inches and clocked an impressive 4.99 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Brooks hoped his body of work during his career not only will show teams that he can be a dominating force as an interior blocker, but provide a team with a versatile player for their front wall. During his time at Miami, he started 41-of-45 games, including 15 assignments at left guard, 14 more at left tackle and 12 at right guard. He accounted for 287 knockdowns and 47 touchdown-resulting blocks during his time as a starter.
Further impressing professional teams was his stellar week during practices leading up to the East-West Shrine Game. Throughout the week, scouts saw his raw power display as a drive blocker, along with proper hand technique and hip swerve in his retreat setting up in pass protection.
He was highly praised for his performance for the West squad during the game, as the winning drive came mostly on runs behind Brooks.
Proving his doubters wrong is nothing new for Brooks. He was a lightly recruited prospect coming out of Milwaukee's Riverside University High School, perhaps because his team had compiled a 3-6 record during his sophomore season and a 4-6 mark during his junior campaign, despite earning team Payer of the Year honors in 2005.
As a senior, Brooks played on both sides of the line, serving as the Tigers' captain. He led the way as the 2006 squad captured the Milwaukee City-Richardson League title with an 11-2 record to earn a berth in the state playoffs. The team MVP was named All-State as an offensive guard, recording 95 knockdowns that included 75 pancake blocks. That performance earned him an invitation to the state all-star game in July at Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He also lettered in basketball and baseball.
Brooks enrolled at Miami University in 2007, spending the season performing with the scout team. The following season, he was selected the Redhawks' Freshman of the Year, as he started all 12 games at left guard. He graded 81 percent for blocking consistency, as he tallied 70 knockdowns for a front wall that allowed only nineteen sacks protecting a passing game that averaged 217.92 yards.
Brooks was the only player on the team to receive All-Mid American Conference honors in 2009. He started all 12 contests after shifting to left tackle, and produced 81 knockdowns and 12 touchdown-resulting blocks.
As a junior, Brooks was limited to seven starts (two at left tackle and the final five at left guard), as he suffered through an injury-plagued season. He had undergone shoulder surgery and was held out of contact during 2010 spring drills. He later missed five regular season contests due to a pulled hamstring. Still, he was a dominating presence when on the field — so much so, that he again received All-MAC second-team honors.
For the third consecutive season, Brooks garnered second-team All-MAC accolades as a senior. He was again on the move, starting all 12 games at right guard. He was equally dominant in the trenches, no matter where he was stationed, posting a career-best 90 knockdowns, along with 10 touchdown-resulting blocks for a ground unit that found the end zone just eleven times. The front wall finished next-to-last among the 120 major colleges, as they allowed 47 sacks, but their senior guard did not allow any defenders to get to the Miami quarterbacks.
After his sensational performance at the 2012 East-West Shrine Game, Brooks was the "talk" of the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine due to his absence from the event. Despite being nearly 1,800 miles from Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium, where 327 draft hopefuls were displaying their wares for the league scouts, interest in Brooks was at an all-time high.
"A lot of those guys, I worked out with," said Brooks, who took some time out from his training regimen in Phoenix to watch the offensive line on-field auditions broadcast by The NFL Network. "Those are my buddies. So, yeah there's a curiosity thing at work there." In interviewing team personnel at the event, Len Pasquarelli from The Sports Xchange, Brooks' name was cited pretty prominently as being one of the few players "slighted" by not receiving an invitation.
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Dave-Te Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.