Denver's Pass Rush Gettting a Boost From Indiana Product Jammie Kirlew

via assets.espn.go.com

 

Late on day three of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos traded a 2011 fifth round pick for two picks in the seventh round from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  With the first pick, they took advantage of one high profile prospect's relatively large fall when they selected Cal cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson.

With the 232nd pick in the draft, the other pick the Broncos had acquired from Tampa Bay, Denver took Indiana defensive end Jammie Kirlew, a player who was very productive in college but took a slide on draft boards due to lack of ideal measurables.

The Broncos may have gotten themselves a nice steal in the seventh round.

In 2009, the Broncos ranked 10th in the NFL with 39 sacks.  Outside Linebacker Elvis Dumervilled the team and the NFL with 17, and nearly half of the rest of Denver's quarterback takedowns came from Vonnie Holliday and Darrell Reid, who combined for nine sacks.

Though Denver was in the top ten in this particular category, the dropoff in production over the course of the year was quite noticeable, and addressing the pass rush is something many fans felt needed to be done prior to the 2010 campaign.

The Broncos didn't place quite the amount of emphasis on the hybrid linebacker spot as many would have liked, but as the old cliche' goes, quality always defeats quantity.  While on the surface, a seventh round pick may not reek of great quality, Kirlew could turn out to be the exception to the trend.

Though not exactly identical, the scouting reports on Kirlew and Dumervil have some striking resemblances. 

Obviously, the first thing that stands out about Elvis Dumervil is the fact that he has been such a productive player at every level of football despite his lack of ideal or even average size.  At 5'11" 250 pounds, Dumervil's slip to the fourth round was not something that came out of left field.

His production in college would have suggested otherwise.

Kirlew has a similar uphill battle in terms of a lack of ideal size, but he has a two inch height advangate on Dumervil, as well as an extra ten pounds.  Though one could make an argument that smaller defensive end hybrids should be shorter and more compact in size like Pittsburgh's James Harrison, the general thought is that players around 6'3" 260 pounds are around the ideal size for the position.

 Quite possibly the biggest asset to Dumervil's arsenal, the sack king's 6'6" wingspan prevents him from being completely engulfed by larger defenders.  Dumervil has never really had trouble in his career disengaging from blocks, nor has he ever had much trouble with gaining leverage.  His long arms have also been a huge factor in stripping the ball from quarterbacks, an art he has mastered.

Kirlew has similarly long 32.5 inch arms, which will prove to be a very big part of his overall game.  Despite his lack of great speed, the former Indiana star will have to use his initial quickness and long arms to gain leverage against bigger offensive tackles.  It also helps defenders get sack-fumbles, which is quickly becoming one of the more common ways of turning the ball over in the NFL.

I suppose the crux of the argument here is simply that Kirlew and Dumervil have both had to overcome similar obstacles in order to find success at the NFL.  Whether or not Kirlew can effectively transition remains to be seen, but he has a good veteran in front of him to learn from and observe.

One really intriguing factor for Kirlew is the fact that every scouting report of his out there indicates that he, like Dumervil, is an extremely high character, hard working player.  Now, that doesn't always translate to success in the National Football League, but it can't hurt a guy.  NFL Draft Scout had this much to say about the intangibles of Denver's new pass rusher:

Team captain. High effort and character player who is a leader in the locker room and the community. Named to the AFCA Good Works team and nominated for the Lowes Senior CLASS Award and the Wooden Cup, awarded to a college and professional athlete making the greatest positive influence on the lives of others.

In addition to being a good soul, Kirlew also has some serious talent on the gridiron.  In his last two seasons at Indiana, he has been named the team's Most Valuable Player and has racked up 136 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, and nine forced fumbles over the course of his career.

Here is another bit that caught my eye from NFL Draft Scout's report on Kirlew:

Although Kirlew isn't the biggest, fastest or most fluid defensive player in this draft, his motor and excellent character will endear him to scouts looking for a Robert Mathis-type pass rushing end for their team.

The comparison to Robert Mathis is quite encouraging.  The Indianapolis Coltshave had very nice pressure off the edge from the likes of Mathis and Freeney, both of whom are relatively undersized defensive ends, and both of whom are able to force fumbles on a relatively consistent basis.

While Kirlew's speed is nothing to write home about (5.03 40 yard dash at Indiana pro day) his upper body strength (29 bench press reps at pro day) and quickness off the ball are other attributes that scouts rave about.  Dumervil also happened to bench press 225 pounds 29 times but was quite a bit faster in the 40 yard dash, running reported times of 4.78 and 4.68 in offseason workouts.

Denver's ninth and final draft pick in 2010 certainly has an uphill battle to NFL stardom, and may never develop into an every down outside linebacker at this level of ball, but he provides the Broncos with a very underrated option off the edge.  Even with a lack of ideal size and speed, his non-stop motor and quickness off the ball could prove to be a very nice addition for the pass rush needy Broncos.

With Darrell Reid's status in question, Kirlew could be forced into the rotation sooner rather than later. 

Here is a full scouting repot on Kirlew from NFL Draft Scout:

Playing in the shadow of teammate Greg Middleton, Kirlew (whose first name pronounced JAY-me) has put together an excellent career in Bloomington through hard work and determination. In fact, in both 2008 and 2009 he was named the Hoosiers' team Most Valuable Player.

Kirlew's production over the past two seasons has also put him in the conversation for the Ted Hendrick Award. He made 74 tackles, 19.5 for loss and 10.5 sacks as a junior and 62, 15.5, 6.5 in 2009 -- he also forced five fumbles, recovering three this fall. He was no wallflower early in his career, either, making five TFLs as a redshirt freshman and 57-14.5-5 as a first-year starter in 2007.

Although Kirlew isn't the biggest, fastest or most fluid defensive player in this draft, his motor and excellent character will endear him to scouts looking for a Robert Mathis-type pass rushing end for their team.

 

Pass rush: Gives consistent effort during the play and throughout the game, attacking the quarterback until he releases the ball. Can beat tackles with power or speed; gets under their pads to knock them off balance or under the outside shoulder to turn the corner. Inside/outside spin move is effective in pass rush and to get off blocks outside.

Run defense: Plays low and in an athletic position to break down in space and stand his ground against pulling linemen or blocking fullbacks. Not great change-of-direction skills and must improve his flexibility and quick-twitch movement to switch to linebacker. Needs to use violent hands more consistently to defeat running back cut blocks and disengage from tackles. Aware of his containment responsibilities on the edge, maintains outside leverage to force play to the linebackers.

Explosion: Gets out of his stance and upfield quickly in passing situations. Has some pop getting into his man's chest when playing the run, but isn't big enough to knock him back.

Strength: Strong, well-built upper body with the ability to bull rush and also the hands to shed on the outside using leverage against taller tackles. Also strong in the lower half but still lacks bulk; can be handled easily in space by linemen and blown off the line by tackle-tight end combos.

Tackling: Explosive tackler who brings it hard every play. Good burst to the ball and has length and strength to wrap up ballcarriers and quarterbacks in the backfield. Will miss tackles in space with average change of direction ability. Active inside and hustles downfield to either sideline to make plays. Not an efficient running motion; arms far away from his side as he goes to the ball.

Intangibles: Team captain. High effort and character player who is a leader in the locker room and the community. Named to the AFCA Good Works team and nominated for the Lowes Senior CLASS Award and the Wooden Cup, awarded to a college and professional athlete making the greatest positive influence on the lives of others.

 

Graduated with degrees in SPEA management and public financial management in December 2009. The two-time All-Big Ten selection and two-time team MVP closed out his career tied for third on the Hoosiers' career sacks list with 23 and second on the career tackles for lost list with 52.5. Kirlew played in 48 career games with 41 starts. He collected 220 tackles, 152 solo, with nine forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

Voted second team All-Big Ten by the conference coaches and media … named Indiana's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree … named to the 11-player Allstate AFCA Good Works Team … one of 10 finalists for the ARA Sportsmanship Award, a semifinalist for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy and a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award … named to the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch Lists … second team All-Big Ten selection Received honorable mention All-Big Ten from the league's coaches and media … also a third team All-Big Ten selection by Phil Steele's magazine … collected the team's Anthony Thompson MVP Award for the second straight season … Academic All-Big Ten selection.

 

 

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