Karl Brooks: NFL’s next steal

Artie Abrego, Sports Reporter, Falcon Media Sports Network

It is one of the best seasons of the year, and no, I am not talking about spring.

I’m talking about NFL Draft season.

The Bowling Green Falcons have several players ready to take the next step toward their NFL dreams.

One such player for the Falcons, defensive end and two-time team captain Karl Brooks, is making it clear to NFL teams that he is one of the steals of the draft. 

Brooks attended Sexton High School in Lansing, Michigan, where he recorded 100 tackles, 12 sacks, and five forced fumbles in his time with the-now J-Dubbs (previously Big Reds).

However despite the high school success, Brooks graduated as an unranked recruit by all major scouting services. 

Brooks joined BGSU in 2018 after de-committing from Grand Valley State University, joining the Division I program under the command of then-head coach Mike Jinks.

The Falcons had gone 2-10 the previous season. 

In his first year wearing the Orange and Brown, Brooks played in nine games and registered 3.5 sacks and 32 total tackles, with 4.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.

BG finished the season with an overall record of 3-9, with Jinks being let go after starting the season 1-6. 

Heading into Brooks’ sophomore year, BGSU hired Boston College offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who walked into Bowling Green with over 20 years of coaching experience.

The Falcons finished the season 3-9 once more, but Brooks played in 12 games, generating 4.5 sacks, 33 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and one interception.

In his junior year, Brooks played in three games, ending the season with only ten total tackles, two sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss, highly efficient numbers for the limited number of games.

The Falcons only played five games in the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 restrictions on sporting events. 

After fans were finally allowed back into the stadiums, Brooks exploded onto the scene for his breakout year.

The Falcons went 4-8, including a monumental upset over the Big Ten’s Minnesota Gophers and in that same season, Brooks recorded 7.5 sacks, 42 total tackles, and 12.5 tackles for loss.  

Due to COVID-19, college athletes were granted one extra year of eligibility for spots, which Brooks used to return for his fifth year with the Falcons.

The fifth-year would turn out to be the best year yet, as Brooks had an explosive year, registering ten sacks, 50 total tackles, two forced fumbles, and 18.5 tackles for loss. 

Brooks’ ten sacks tied him for tenth place in the nation for sacks in the 2022-23 season. His 18.5 tackles for loss also put him at tenth in the country.

The Falcons finished the regular season 6-6 and qualified for the Quick Lane Bowl against the New Mexico State Aggies.

With the season over, Brooks finishes his career with 27.5 sacks, 167 total tackles, 46 tackles for loss, and one interception. 

He led Bowling Green in sacks in four of his five seasons. 

Brooks’ 27.5 sacks put him third all-time in BGSU history, sixth all-time in the Mid-American Conference, and 50th all-time in the NCAA.

Brook also ranks 80th in tackles for loss in NCAA history and ninth all-time in the MAC with his career 46 tackles for loss.  

Along with that, Brooks finished the 2022 season with several career honors, some of which include being named a Pro Football Focus First Team All-American, a first-team PFF All-MAC player, and a 2022 first-team All-MAC recipient.  

Following the season, Brooks was invited to the Senior Bowl, an annual event that showcases some of the top senior players in college football participating in a game in front of NFL scouts.  

In that game, Brooks recorded a tackle and a sack on Heisman Trophy finalist, TCU Quarterback Max Duggan. 

Despite all the career success, controversially, Brooks was not invited to the NFL Draft Combine.

However at the BG NFL Pro Day, he participated in a workout in front of 28 NFL teams.

At the pro day, he lifted 28 bench presses, which would have put him in the top five at the NFL combine for the defensive end position.   

Brooks also posted a 5.06 time in the 40-yard dash and a 26.5 vertical jump. He also recorded an 8.09 on the broad jump. 

Now going into the NFL Draft, teams need to also know the physical specimen they are getting in Brooks.

According to his pro day measurements, Brooks stands at six feet three inches, weighs 296 lbs., with 9-inch hands, and an arm length of 31 4/8 inches.  

The two-time captain of the Falcons has several strengths that help him stand out in this year’s stacked draft.

Brooks’ explosive production this season put him at the top of many categories. He plays with fantastic speed, utilizing a slap-and-slide technique that makes him a dangerous player.  

 Brooks is also explosive when it comes to making the first move on the line, constantly being able to attack opposing offensive lines and force immediate pressure against opposing quarterbacks. 

Despite Brooks’ obvious talent, he does have weaknesses.

One of the knocks on him are his undersized arms and shoulders. Despite his speed, he often struggles at forcing pressure head-on against offensive tackles.  

Brooks is a solid prospect whom analysts project to be a late-round pick in the draft.

For example, CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson in his latest mock draft has Brooks going #115 overall to the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round.

If this scenario, or one similar to it comes true in the fourth round, Brooks will be the highest drafted Falcon since Kory Lichtensteiger back in 2008, when he was drafted in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos.

 The NFL Draft begins on April 30, and as Bowling Green students finish their classes and pass their finals, Karl Brooks will look towards the lifelong dream of the NFL. 

For more information about BGSU Football and NFL Draft history, click here.