Prospect: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
Grade: 6.9 (Grading Scale)
+Adequate bulk to take on guards.
+Solid strength profile through his lower body.
+Upper body strength shows ability to shed blocks and take down ball carriers.
+Flexible around the edge, good balance.
-Not a quick-twitch athlete, struggles changing directions at time.
-Lacks elite top-end speed.
-Doesn’t have ideal height, might measure shorter than 6’2″ at combine.
+Plays with fire and intensity, loves football.
+Able to respectfully challenge coaches and communicate ideas.
+Unquestioned team leader and three year starter.
+Has played multiple linebacker positions, does what is asked.
+Diagnoses plays quickly, rarely takes a false step.
+Disciplined in his run fits, very consistent player.
+Rarely mis-reads the play, very few false steps.
+Fights his way through the trash, aware of pulls/crack blocks.
+Effective and productive tackler – consistently wraps up in traffic.
+Fantastic effort in pursuit, both down and across the field.
+Preternatural instincts, knows where the play is going.
+Able to take on and shed blocks from linemen.
+Takes good angles to the ball carrier in pursuit.
-Could use his hands better to disengage.
-Some consistency issues tackling in space, will occasionally fail to break down.
+Effective on blitzes, able to sidestep blocks and create pressure.
+Has rushed from the inside, outside, and on stunts.
+Works the “Green Dog” blitz very well, recognizing that his man is staying in and getting pressure on the QB.
-Not asked to blitz a lot, has had only a handful of sacks in his career.
+Excels in zone coverage, tracks the quarterback’s eyes well.
+Gets good depth on his drops, stays true to his assignment.
+Got his hands on a lot of passes over the last two seasons – three interception returns for TD.
+Pattern reading defense, doesn’t just drop to a spot.
-Inconsistent in his technique jamming receivers / TE off the line.
-Lacks elite change of direction skills for man coverage.
-Has struggled preventing completions when covering tight ends and slot receivers in man.
Klein is an intense competitor on the football field and is the type of player that every NFL head coach would want on his team. He is a leader on and off the field and has a work ethic that is infectious.
On the field, Klein makes up for his less than elite athleticism with impeccable instincts. He plays within the defense, but is dead set on making every tackle of the game.
He shouldn’t have to come off the field in the NFL if a team wants to play zone, although he may struggle playing man at the next level. His skill-set translates well to special teams as well, so he could be that rare 4-down linebacker that the NFL covets.
Look for Klein to be a fringe Top 100 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Iowa vs Iowa State
-Picks his way through the trash, solid tackling fundamentals.
-Immediate burst to the ball, slips by center and makes the stop.
-Reads counter action and comes up and fills the gap.
-Overpursues a bit, gives up the cut back.
Iowa State vs Oklahoma State
-Lined up on slot, delayed blitz, gets some pressure.
-Comes on an “X” blitz, pressures the QB into an interception.
-Takes a good angle to take down crossing TE.
-Tracks down Blackmon on WR screen, wraps up for solid tackle.