For ex-Cal star Mychal Kendricks, playing linebacker at 5-foot-11 has never been an issue. It seems he finally may have convinced NFL scouts.

"That shouldn't matter," said Kendricks, projected as likely a second-round pick in this week's NFL draft. "Anyone who knows this game, knows this doesn't matter at all.

"It's not even in my subconscious mind," he said. "If others think about it, it's on them. If they pass me up, that's on them, too."

Fewer teams will pass on Kendricks after his consistently strong pre-draft showing. Coming off a Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year season in the fall, he turned heads at the NFL combine camp in Indianapolis by running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds -- the fastest time by a linebacker at the event since 2000. He also had the best linebacker scores for vertical leap and standing broad jump.

"Kendricks is faster and has a better closing burst than many NFL linebackers," wrote Russ Lande of The Sporting News while rating Kendricks as the No. 24 overall prospect in the draft. "He plays with an intensity that brings Ray Lewis to mind. What's not to like about this guy?"

Well, mostly his height.

The NFL loves measurables, and Kendricks literally comes up short in one category.

"He's not the big 6-foot-4 guy," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said.

But a scouting report on NFL.com echoes what many are now saying about Kendricks after a Cal career in which he showed himself to be a playmaker, with 259 career tackles, including 361/2 behind the line of scrimmage, and 11 take-aways.


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"Any scout who has watched Kendricks diagnose plays and explode into ball carriers knows he will find the ball whether inside or outside," the report said. "That sub-4.5 speed he showed at the combine might force some defensive coordinators to make exceptions to their height restrictions."

It all amuses Kendricks, a 239-pound native of Fresno. What he showed scouts, coaches and general managers at the Senior Bowl, the combine and his pro day workouts was nothing extraordinary, in his mind.

"I guess it shocks them when I tell them during this whole time leading up to this point, I didn't do anything different," he said.

Kendricks said he was pleased but not stunned by his 40 time at the combine. But the fastest in 12 years by a linebacker?

"Now that's what surprised me," he said. "That feels great."

Kendricks acknowledged he has taken the pre-draft process seriously. He paid extra attention to every detail -- from training to his eating and sleeping habits to his focus.

Tedford is impressed by that mature approach. "They'll be getting a guy who is giving his all, a guy who is very serious, who likes to compete," Tedford said.

"He can do a lot of things. He can cover. He's really good at coming off the edge. Now whether he can come off the edge against NFL tackles is yet to be seen," Tedford said. "But speed is the name of the game. From everything I hear, there's a lot of interest in him."

Kendricks won't speculate on who might pick him or how high in the draft he'll be selected. He worked out for just one team -- Atlanta -- but declines to read too much into that.

"Anything could happen," he said. "I'm pretty happy with the way things are going things so far."