Terrence Brooks was drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft after a stellar collegiate career at Florida State. Brooks was regarded as one of the best free safeties in the draft class - with blazing speed, blitzing ability and the elusive 'rangy' centerfielder coverage ability. Unfortunately, Brooks has not lived up to expectations in his first two professional seasons.
Brooks came on strong during his rookie season. He played 245 defensive snaps, including time as a slot corner. His biggest play is pictured above, when he knocked tight end Delanie Walker, the Tennessee Titans best player, out of the game, helping the Ravens to a crucial November victory. Brooks was often around the ball but missed opportunities to break up passes or snare interceptions on multiple occasions. He was beaten for touchdowns against the Bengals and Saints, not because he was out of position, but because of poor ball skills. Brooks was put on injured reserve after eleven games with a torn ACL and MCL.
After a grueling rehabilitation on his knee, Brooks made it back to the field in time for training camp. But he played in only twelve games last season, missing four due to a thumb injury or coach's' decision. His defensive snaps decreased to 67, mostly in nickel packages. It was certainly a disappointing sophomore season for a promising player who was expected to take the next step in his development last season.
After two seasons in the system and a heathy offseason with the motivation to train harder than ever before, Brooks is poised to make an impact in 2016. But he has been overshadowed this offseason by the other safeties on the roster. The signing of veteran Eric Weddle, position change for Lardarius Webb and anticipated injury return from former first round pick Matt Elam have left Brooks as the forgotten man.
Even after the offseason transformation at the safety position, Brooks still has the best talent of the bunch to cover the deep middle. Considering Lardarius Webb's extensive injury history, Brooks may find himself thrust into a starting role at some point of the season. His skills can be well utilized as a nickel safety, especially as a spy against Tyrod Taylor, Robert Griffin III and the other scrambling quarterbacks on the Ravens schedule. Brooks may even be able to find a job as a hybrid linebacker/safety like the position Deone Bucannon plays for the Cardinals.
Chances are Brooks will be called upon to help the defense at a pivotal point during the coming season. Entering his third season with full health and ability to work on the finer points of technique with Leslie Frazier, Brooks should be ready. The next man up might even be better than the first man up.