At just over 5’11″ Kendricks is slightly short for an inside backer, but he is a muscularly compact 239 pounds, with above average speed, balance, and agility. He exhibits true suddenness in movement, employing excellent acceleration in all areas of his game. Cal’s coaches moved Kendricks to the middle in 2011, from the outside where he played early in his college career, and he responded with 105 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 14 tackles for loss, while he was getting acclimated to his new position. He’s a tremendously versatile player, having also lined up versus receivers in the slot, and as a stand-up edge pass rusher, as well. As he transitions to the NFL, he could play any of the linebacking spots, but he may be best suited to be a WILL backer in a 4-3, where he can showcase his athleticism in space, strength in setting the edge, and explosiveness as a weakside blitzer.
Versus the run, he fills gaps with aggression, and uses quickness and agility to avoid blocks, often working through traffic by side-stepping multiple opponents. As a tackler, he’s both sound and violent, willing and eager to lower a shoulder and snap a ballcarrier back. He comfortably plays downhill, employing first rate acceleration to, and through, the runner. When he gets his hips and shoulders turned toward the target, he pursues plays sideline to sideline, with passion, displaying excellent range and relentless effort. As a pass rusher from the middle, Kendricks is most effective shooting gaps, where centers and guards struggle to slow his advance when he mixes quickness and nimble feet with an attacking mentality. Kendricks is also effective as an edge pass rusher, generally from a standing position, where he employs athleticism in space to beat his man either around the corner, or by countering back inside. When in coverage, Kendricks can turn and run with backs and tight ends, even on routes in the deep third. He closes quickly on the ball, especially on underneath routes in front of him. He was selected for the Senior Bowl, but was unable to play.
Kendricks only possesses average change of direction ability, having to gear down to reroute his body. Short stature makes it difficult to locate the ballcarrier over hulking offensive lineman, and provides a challenge in covering taller tight ends. He will use his hands to fend off linemen, though not always successfully, and, if the blocker locks onto his frame, Kendricks struggles to shed, and can be neutralized. As a pass rusher up the middle, Kendricks is most effective shooting gaps; though willing to take on guards or fullbacks in the hole, he lacks the size and power to run through blocks, or, at times, to even hold his ground. In coverage, he gets only an average drop, despite having well above average athleticism. In zone schemes, he’s slow to anticipate routes, often relying solely on reading the quarterback’s eyes.