We caught up with California Golden Blogs to discuss the son of former Denver Broncos defensive lineman Greg Kragen, Kyle Kragen. As an undrafted college free agent, the road to a roster spot is going to be arduous for Kragen, but he'll be a fan favorite nonetheless due to his football lineage.
The guys over at CGB felt that Kragen is a high character, high motor kind of player, but limited on the athletic side of things. His two sacks in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl may have shown the Broncos enough to bring him on to show them what he can do. It seems as though if he is able to add some bulk he could play in the down and dirty inside of the 3-4, but he'll need to add considerable bulk to get there. Right now, he is dangerously in that "tweener" stage of not athletic enough to play linebacker in the NFL and not big enough to fight through blockers at the point of attack.
Here is what the bloggers from CGB had to say about Kragen.
MHR: What kind of person is he off the field?
boomtho: He wasn't talked about in the same way as a leader as QB Jared Goff or RB Daniel Lasco, but Kragen was still one of the leaders on the defensive side of the ball. Generally, fans heard nothing but positive things about him. I would expect him to be a relatively quiet yet positive contributor to the DEN locker room.
Leland Wong: Kragen gained some fame and became well-liked by the fans for his work ethic. Kragen lost 25 pounds due to a bad case of mono after his junior year and had to fight hard to put the weight back on (actually coming back with more muscle mass than pre-mono) and become arguably our best pass rusher in 2015.
MHR: What are his strengths?
boomtho: His biggest strength to me was his motor. He's not the most physically gifted guy (even compared say to recent Cal star Cam Jordan), but Kragen doesn't have any quit in him. His second strength is probably his quickness, which is what lead to most of his sacks/TFLs. He also looks physically so much healthier/stronger after a bout with mono cost him the entire 2014 season.
Leland Wong: Like boomtho said, Kragen's strength will be his effort and motor, driving him to get to the quarterback. His second-best strength is that sweet name, which will lends itself to "release the Kragen" cries every time he sacks the quarterback.
MHR: What are his weaknesses?
boomtho: First, Kragen played as a pass-rusher with his hand in the dirt nearly all the time. The reports I've seen out of Denver describe him as an OLB--I would be nervous putting him into coverage. He's also not super physically gifted, in fact I'd say he's probably a minus athlete for an edge rusher in the NFL.
Leland Wong: I wouldn't necessarily call his coverage skills a weakness--it's more of a question mark because we just never saw him do that at Cal, where he played defensive end for us.
MHR: How did he improve in his time at Cal?
boomtho: I'd say he improved across the board, with collective improvements across strength/speed/intelligence helping him up his sack total to 7 in his last year. It's hard to pinpoint a specific area in which he improved, partially because he was a Juco transfer into Cal, and partially because of the aforementioned loss of his 2014 season from mono.
Leland Wong: Yeah, it's tough to evaluate Kragen's development since he only played here for two years, but I'd have to cite his pass-rushing ability (which is a common theme in these answers for a reason). He was the most disruptive force for getting into the offensive backfield last season and that pressure was a big reason why Cal's defense went from being porous to being somewhat-respectable.
MHR: What can the Broncos and fans expect from him?
boomtho: I'll be honest--I am very thankful to Kragen for his Cal career and for being a great teammate/leader, but I'd be surprised if he sticks in the NFL. I don't think there's a specific skill he can point to as a foundational one that can enable a pro career, and I'm worried his athletic limitations will ultimately place a relatively low ceiling on what he can produce. Still, all of us Cal fans will definitely be hoping that he can join the growing list of Cal Bears in Denver (shoutout CJ Anderson--Go Bears!)
Leland Wong: Bronco fans have gained a guy who's not gonna quit. He might not be ready for defensive snaps right now, but he's the kind of guy who's gonna give it his all on special teams to earn a spot on the roster. But that's exactly the story of Kragen's career--working hard to prove himself and earn recognition and overcome challenges.