I didn't see this coming but I definitely love this pick.
This is another nasty Olineman with good instincts and versatility, and what really excites me is what he can bring to Denver's running game down the line: as a guard he had 184 knockdowns, 27 resulting in TDs. That's what I'm talking about.
When you factor in his effortless move to center, where he graded the highest among NCAA centers for his blocking (92 knockdowns in first year, 10 for TDs), you can understand why he was the highest ranked center going into 2007, but that leads you to ask: Why didn't he stay at the top?
He began 2007 by recording 96 knockdowns, and 16 were for TDs, and he did this through only nine games. He also added 6 other knockdowns that resulted in big plays (over 25 yards) and gave up only 1 sack through that time period. But unbeknownst to him he was playing through pain that would ultimately prove to be a torn labrum, which was repaired via arthroscopic surgery, but considered a delicate heal. He needs to be shelved for a little while, and then take it slow coming back, but even with the longest timetable imaginable for this he will be back to form by the time training camp officially starts. There is some ado about him not matching up well with certain types of DTs, but his move to center maximized his potential, and when you combine that with his quiet and determined attitude, great work ethic, and football smarts, you get a guy that could actually make Nalen break out in a sweat competing with him in practice!
Hands down, K-Lic (a nickname is inevitable here folks), was the best NCAA center playing last year prior to his injury, and an argument could be made for being the best after, as well. His powerful lower body strength stands on its own and is one of the qualities we have been passing over in our Olineman for a little while now (Eslinger, Myers). He has good, but not great hands, and he has some technique issues to address when getting his hands on fast interior D-linemen, especially the kind who specialize in splitting the gap, but his move to center went a long ways towards helping him hold up in that area.
One of the best things you have to like about him is how well he moves in tandem with his linemates, and how great his vision is, useful for reading defenses and for holding the point in pass protection. He is a relentless competitor, and loves to get his hat on someone, and in runblocking it isn't unusual to see him taking in inordinate amount of pleasure in taking out defenders.
Denver did the right thing by not letting any news coming through the grapevine interfere with their evaluation of this kid. If you only go by what you see, you can't help but think you might just be looking at one of the best.