The scar on UCLA LB Eric Kendricks left cheek is a daily reminder of his older brother. Kendricks was on the receiving end of a rock being hurled in his direction by older brother and Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks when the two were much younger. It also has helped to make him into the kind of competitor NFL clubs covet at the linebacker position.
"We were 17 months apart, so we fought all the time," said Kendricks. "We competed in everything including getting to the remote for the television. I was born in that environment and I still to this day crave it. I crave competition and I find it in every aspect of life. Competition is in my blood."
It's hard for most talent evaluators not to compare the skill sets of the two brothers, especially with the two playing the same position. As Eric Kendricks sees it they're similar in all the right ways.
"We bring a lot of the same characteristics to the game," Kendricks said. "We can do a lot of things that a lot of people can't do. Flexilibity, speed, collision at the point of attack… those are things we both bring to the table."
His older brother Mychal was a second-round pick of the Eagles in 2012 after he earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors at Cal. The older Kendricks just finished second on the Eagles in tackles (108) this past season.
Younger brother Eric capped his college career with the Bruins in 2014 with the Butkus award and Lott Impact trophy leading the nation in solo tackles with 101 and 149 total last year.
"My tackling ability, my ability to track down the ball carrier wherever he's at and however I have to get there, I think it's uncommon," said Kendricks. "I can't explain how I do it. I just get to the ball."
The statistics and the game tape do not lie, but NFL scouts do wonder if his less than ideal measurables for the position (6-0, 232) will make it hard for him to hold up physically at the NFL level. Kendricks missed a good portion of the 2013 season with persistent shoulder and ankle injuries.
"Measurables are one thing, but you can't measure explosion and you can't measure certain other things that people bring to the table like natural instinct and getting to the ball," said Kendricks. "That's what I have."
Most scouts believe Kendricks is best suited as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but the UCLA product is convinced he can line up anywhere at the second level.
"I'm best on the field," he said. "Honestly I can play any linebacker position. I love to be behind the ball in the middle running both ways for the run, and I love to be out wide for the pass. I don't mind it at all and I think I have the athletic skill to do everything."
Kendricks could be a nice fit inside in Buffalo's anticipated 3-4 scheme, but there's also a very good chance Kendricks is long gone before the Bills pick at 50. He's forecast as a late first or early second-round pick.
When Kendricks was asked if he'd like to be an even better player than his brother at the NFL level, he put his competitive nature in check, providing a glimpse at the linebacker's character when it comes to family, or more specific to his future employment, a teammate.
"I want to see my brother be as successful as possible," said Kendricks. "I have my own goals and aspirations. What I want to achieve is maybe different from what he wants to achieve. I have my own goals that I covet and I won't stop until I achieve them."