Karl Brooks is one of the best players you likely don’t know. He’s not a Power Five quarterback or dynamic wide receiver, and Brooks’ team wasn’t making weekly headlines and contending for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Despite minimal attention, Brooks was one of the most productive players in college football in 2022. The Bowling Green defensive lineman ended his season with 50 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks.
Brooks reached those stats while standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 300 pounds. He’s a beast along the defensive front, with the versatility to play defensive end or tackle that should attract a number of suitors in the NFL Draft.
Pro Football Focus named Brooks a 2022 First Team All-American performer. He was widely regarded as a First Team All-MAC player in 2022, and he also showcased strong leadership skills as a team captain in 2021 and 2022.
Brooks is an NFL Combine snub, but he performed admirably at the Senior Bowl. He’s no secret to scouts, which means he could work his way into the early rounds of the NFL Draft. At the very least, Brooks figures to be selected in the first five rounds of the draft. His skillset makes him an intriguing candidate to be picked on Day 2 of the draft.
Interestingly, Brooks came to college as an edge-type player, weighing roughly 70 pounds less than he does now. He still possesses that speed and edge rushing talent, while also having the size to hold his own against the interior of an offensive line.
Brooks has a blend of speed and power that should translate well to the NFL. He has powerful hands, but he can also blow by offensive linemen with speed and quickness. He’s effective against the run and pass, making him a well-rounded prospect with significant upside.
The pass rusher recorded two or more sacks in three different games in 2022, including a three-sack performance against Central Michigan. Brooks also forced a fumble in that game, one of his two forced fumbles on the year.
Brooks was far and away the most dominant defender on Bowling Green’s roster. He was the only Falcon with more than eight tackles for loss in 2022, and no other player on the team recorded more than six sacks.
Even with MAC offensive lines trying to focus on Brooks, the forceful defender still produced at an exceptional level. Fans of teams needing an interior defensive lineman will gravitate toward Georgia’s Jalen Carter (understandably), but Brooks will be among the most highly coveted prospects outside Carter.
With size, quickness, and power, Brooks looks the part of a potential NFL starter along a defensive front. Even without a combine invite, a special senior season coupled with consistent performances at the Senior Bowl should help Brooks move up draft boards as teams locate players they want to add to their rosters.
Bennett Conlin is a college football contributor for HERO Sports, and he works full-time covering sports betting industry news and legislation for Sports Handle and US Bets.