The Eagles, for the most part, have been praised for their haul in the 2013 NFL Draft. One of the team's seemingly "great value" picks was Utah defensive end Joe Kruger. The brother of new Cleveland Brown and former Baltimore Raven, Paul, Kruger was taken in the 7th round of this past weekend's draft. The 20-year old stud is likely set to compete for a spot along the defensive line in training camp.
At 6'6" and 269-pounds, Kruger could be moved into several position on defensive. With his athleticism, Kruger was used as a defensive chess piece at Utah, playing defensive tackle, defensive end and rush linebacker. Not even a two-year starter, Kruger is a bit raw and still has room to grow both physically and mentally when it comes to the game. Over his final two years in college, Kruger registered 65 tackles, 9 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and one interception. He was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention this past year.
Here is what NFL.com had to say about Kruger's game:
STRENGTHSVery impressive size. Athletic. Long arms. Plays with power, capable of bull rushing offensive lineman back into the quarterback. Extends his arms and can keep offensive lineman off his frame. Good first step, comes off the ball well. Plays with a firm base. Flows to the football well, and is an effort player. Possesses the ability to redirect.
WEAKNESSESPlays with a high pad level too often. Pops upright off the snap and will give up leverage. Needs to add more weight. Struggles to bend as a pass rusher. Lacks counter moves, will get stuck on his block. Inconsistent hand placement.
NFL COMPARISONJared Odrick
My Take: Joe Kruger, just like his brother, is an imposing force. His raw ability is easy to see on tape and he excels against the run and pass, despite being extremely raw. He is a true hybrid player with an ability to play anywhere on the defensive line (but nose tackle) and is also able attack from a stand-up position. Kruger is extremely quick off the line and has the strength and length to overpower opposing linemen. His performance definitely fluctuates throughout games and he does struggle against small linemen. Kruger's biggest issue at the next level will be "getting small." As NFL.com mentions above, he has serious trouble getting low, which will make him susceptible to cut-blocks that will take him out of plays. However, with good coaching and improved technique, Kruger could be down right dangerous. I expect him to be more of a role player in his rookie season, but would not be surprised if he took Cedric Thornton's place in the lineup by the end of 2013 or by the start of 2014.
To get a glimpse of Kruger's "occasional dominance," check out his performance against BYU this past season: