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Broncos roster 2016: Kyle Kragen

Can the undrafted free agent from Cal follow in his dad's footsteps, play for Denver and the same defensive coordinator?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time of the year again. Mile High Report is in the midst of our annual 90 players in 90 days roster breakdown. Last year went fairly well, but continuing today and through August 27th, we'll break down every player on the Denver Broncos roster.

Kyle Kragen didn't have to look far for his inspiration.

Name: Kyle Kragen
Position: OLB
Height: 6'3"   Weight: 256
Age: 23   Experience: R
College: California

If the name sounds familiar, it should. It definitely made defensive coordinator Wade Phillips feel his age.

As Pat Graham with The Associated Press said in his excellent feature about Kyle, "Skip back nearly three decades. Think nose tackle instead of linebacker. Swap No. 57 for 71. In 1989, his father, Greg, became a Pro Bowler in Phillips' system during the defensive guru's first go-around with the Broncos."

As Phillips quipped to Graham: "If Kyle Kragen has kids, maybe I'll coach them, too."

Aside from Clay Matthews and Peyton Manning, Kyle looked up to his dad. He models his work ethic and hard work approach after the Broncos defender who helped the team reach three Super Bowls in four years. Kyle even wanted the number 71, but the number isn't available for linebackers.

Kyle wasn't selected during the NFL Draft after a senior season at California where he led the Golden Bears in tackles for loss, sacks and quarterback hurries. He thought he was headed to minicamp with Green Bay when the Broncos suddenly extended an invitation. As Graham's story notes, the thought of following in his dad's footsteps was too tempting.

"It's really cool, because I grew up rooting for the Broncos, watching the Broncos with my dad," Kyle told Graham.

The Good:

As noted above, Kyle led Cal in tackles for loss, sacks and quarterback hurries in his senior season. The season was highlighted by his 14-tackle, 2 1/2-sack game against Washington State.

What makes that impressive is Kyle didn't even take up football until high school, and when the temptation of the gridiron could no longer be controlled, he started as a quarterback.

"My dad taught me to overcome not being the best athlete with hard work," Kyle told Graham. "It's going to take zero mental mistakes and incredible effort and succeeding on special teams (to make this team)."

That work ethic and willingness to do whatever is asked of him is what makes Kyle so intriguing - aside from his connections to the organization.

"Greg was a go-getter, the kind of guy you wanted on your team," Phillips told Graham. "Kyle's a go-getter, you can tell that right away. He definitely got that from his dad."

The Bad:

The depth at outside linebacker for Denver is the biggest obstacle for Kyle to overcome. With Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett on the roster, he's going to have to make a name for himself on special teams.

And while the story of his dad is a nice connection to the past, especially given Phillips coached Greg with the Broncos, it means nothing on the field. And Kyle knows that. The deck is stacked against him, but if he can impress on special teams and show his coaches and teammates he'll do whatever it takes, he's on the right path.

Roster status:

I see no way Kyle cracks the 53-man roster as an outside linebacker, so the only way he makes the final cut is through special teams. The most likely scenario, though, is he winds up on the practice squad.

I'm all for great stories, and I'll pull be rooting for Kyle to follow in the footsteps of his dad.