Terrel Bernard might not be considered a Day 1 prospect, but make no mistake, the Baylor product can be a difference-maker at the next level.
Bernard took his game to another level in 2021, racking up 103 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and four passes defended. Over the course of his Baylor career, he had 317 total tackles, 16.5 sacks and three interceptions.
Once his college career ended, Bernard set out to raise his draft stock. Not only did he make a trip to the Senior Bowl, he competed at the NFL Combine and Baylor Pro Day.
We caught up with Terrel Bernard to discuss his time at Baylor, preparation for the NFL, what separates him from other prospects and more.
The Spun: How has this draft process been treating you?
Terrel Bernard: It’s been good, man. It’s been super busy. I played in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, and then I started training right after that. It’s been a fun process. I went to the Senior Bowl, participated in the NFL Combine, and had my pro day at Baylor.
The Spun: You finished your final season at Baylor in style, winning the Big 12 Championship Game and the Sugar Bowl. What did it mean to you to finish your career on that note?
TB: It was a perfect ending. We expected a lot from ourselves heading into the 2021 season. It was the perfect end to what was a long career there.
The Spun: You had the chance to play for Matt Rhule and Dave Aranda. What would say is the biggest difference between them?
TB: I think their styles and personalities are different. Coach Rhule and Coach Aranda are complete opposites. Experiencing those different styles is a good thing. I learned a lot from them, and I feel like they both helped me improve as a player and leader.
The Spun: What was your favorite rivalry during your time at Baylor?
TB: I think playing against TCU was fun. Oklahoma was another team we’d look at because they were the kings of the Big 12 for a few years. Trying to take them down is something we looked forward to each year.
The Spun: Scouts have raved about your leadership. Where does that quality come from?
TB: I think it comes from learning from other leaders. As a young player, I was trying to figure out what they wanted to do and how they wanted me to approach things. I took some of their skills and implemented it into my personality.
The Spun: Who do you try to model your gameafter?
TB: The first person that comes to mind is Lavonte David. How he maneuvers in the box stands out. He’s versatile and plays with such passion. I try to take pieces of his game and mold it into what I do.
The Spun: You had the chance to showcase your skills at the NFL Combine and pro day. Are you pleased with the results you had?
TB: I think so. I wasn’t really able to compete at the Senior Bowl because I pulled my hamstring before we got up there. But I think I did everything I needed to do as far as my training is concerned. The interview part of it was a great experience. I learned a lot of things from great coaches.
The Spun: You improved every year at Baylor. What’s the next progression of your game?
TB: I think taking the ball away is something I want to put a big emphasis on. I’ve worked on a lot of different parts of my game over the past few years. That’s the one part I really want to elevate next, whether it’s punching the ball out or forcing strip sacks. Turnovers are so important in the NFL.
The Spun: On the flip side, what already makes you a unique linebacker?
TB: I think my versatility. I feel like I can do a lot of different things. I’m really comfortable in the box, but I can step out of the box and cover tight ends or running backs. I’m also effective when it comes to blitzing the quarterback. I feel like I can be a pass rusher in those situations.
The Spun: What will it mean to you to hear your name come off the board during the draft?
TB: It’s going to be a dream come true. Growing up, you never really know for sure if you’re going to make it. You just put one foot forward and try your best. I couldn’t be more thankful to be in this situation.
NFL analysts and scouts have raved about Bernard's leadership and toughness. While there are some concerns about his overall frame, that doesn't take away from the fact that he's a smart linebacker capable of making quick reads.
Teams in need of a boost to their linebacker corps and locker room should keep an eye on Terrel Bernard on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.
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