The back end of the draft is a good place to fill holes and the Pittsburgh Steelers go back to Maryland to one at the safety position. They’re starters are set Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds but behind them they have players like Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen who are both better near the line of scrimmage. What they need from a safety is someone who can play in the deep portion of the field.
Brooks measured in at 5’10 and 220 pounds at the Combine with 4.64 speed. He had 237 tackles, 27.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks and 4 interceptions. In 2019 he had career highs with 87 tackles and 5 passed defensed.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com gave him a 6.00 grade (Developmental traits-based prospect) and gave him a 5th round projection.
Here is what he had to say, “He’s either a versatile defender or one lacking a clean positional fit depending on a team’s assessment and scheme. He’s played in a variety of spots over the past two years, but hip tightness and lack of length do show themselves when matched in man coverage. He’s a freelancer who lacks the range to play single-high, but his instincts and recognition talent improve his ability to challenge effectively as a split safety. He’s a well-built banger with solo tackle talent near the line and should be a quality short zone defender. Brooks offers middle-round value as a split-safety capable of box duties and should offer an upgrade on special teams coverage.”
At the Draft Network, Kyle Crabbs shared this, “Antoine Brooks Jr. projects best as a nickel sub-package defender in the NFL. Brooks Jr. brings a strong presence off the edge as a D-gap run defender and blitzer and pairs it with good short area quickness and stout tackling. His functional athleticism may prevent him from playing an every down role on the back end but this is a potential special teams ace and strong complimentary asset with valued skills against the pass (shallow zone and man to man) or against the run.”
And Joe Marino, also at the Draft Network, had this to say, “Maryland safety Antoine Brooks is a fun player to watch on tape. Everything he does is physical, urgent and done with an alpha mentality. He thrived as an overhang and box defender, shooting gaps and triggering downhill. The concern is that he isn’t likely to find such a role at the next level and his erratic tendencies and limitations in zone and man coverage present difficult challenges for him to overcome in the NFL. The key for Brooks is claiming a role in subpackages as a blitzer/d-gap defender and dominating on special teams.”
Overall: The value of this pick is marginal for the defense and solid for special teams. Based on the opinions above it sounds like Brooks is more comfortable near the line of scrimmage. At safety the Steelers needs someone that can play the deep safety position. If they see him as replacement for Barron it doesn’t sound like he is strong in Man coverage. He could be an upgrade over someone like Allen if he can be productive on special teams and that could increase the value of this pick.