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Bowling Green's Karl Brooks aims to be 'the hammer' in defensive front

New Packers defensive lineman stayed true to himself and his school

DL Karl Brooks
DL Karl Brooks

GREEN BAY – When Karl Brooks lines up, the Bowling Green defensive lineman has one thing on his mind and one thing only.

"Get off the ball and be the hammer and not the nail," Brooks said. "I want to attack the offensive linemen. I want to get off the ball first. I want to strike and I want to play in the backfield."

The Packers liked what they saw in the ultra-productive defensive lineman, drafting Brooks with the first of their two sixth-round picks (No. 179 overall) on Saturday.

The 6-foot-3, 303-pounder had a successful five-year run at Bowling Green, in which he started 48 of the 52 games he appeared for the Falcons. He started eight games out of the gate as a true freshman in 2018 following an injury to fifth-year senior David Konowalski, who was a mentor to Brooks.

Brooks led the Falcons in sacks four times (3½ in 2018, 4½ in 2019, 7½ in 2021 and 10 in 2022). He also had two sacks during a COVID-shortened 2020 campaign but was sidelined in two of Bowling Green's five games with a foot injury.

All told, Brooks finished with 167 tackles (46 for loss) and 27½ sacks. He was at peak form this past year when he earned first-team All-MAC while posting career highs in tackles for loss (18) and sacks (10). Pro Football Focus credited Brooks with 62 pressures, the third most in FBS.

Take a look at Packers DL Karl Brooks during his college career.

"There's times you turn on the tape and he's a man amongst boys," Packers director of football operations Milt Hendrickson said. "When you see players from non-Power 5 or FCS schools, you want to see them dominate. And you can put in the tape and see that kid dominate in stretches."

Brooks could've entered the transfer portal following that challenging junior campaign in 2020 – Bowling Green went 0-5 – but it was important for him to stay true to the program that stood by him.

Brooks finished his college career on a high note, as the Falcons won six games and advanced to their first bowl game (Quick Lane Bowl) in seven years.

Brooks is just the third Bowling Green alum to be drafted into the NFL since 2013, joining former teammate Scotty Miller (sixth round, 2019) and defensive tackle Chris Jones (sixth round, 2013). Brooks' selection at 179 is the highest a Falcon has been drafted since Kory Lichtensteiger in 2008 (fourth round, 108).

"It's a blessing just to play at Bowling Green," Brooks said. "Not a lot of guys get drafted out of there and for me to get drafted out of Bowling Green, I feel like that's good for the record books and I'm honored to do that at a good program like BG."

After playing primarily defensive end in college, Brooks believes the Senior Bowl played a huge role in increasing his draft profile because it gave him a chance to see more reps inside as a three-technique defensive tackle.

"Just lining me up and letting me play football," Brooks said of how he benefits inside. "With some good coaching, I feel like I can shine the best. But me, personally, I felt myself playing inside the tackles, three-technique, two-I or over the center and being very productive. That's where I see myself playing."


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