Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Breaking Down the Chicago Bears Fourth Round Pick: West Virginia Linebacker - Nick Kwiatkoski

The NFL Draft has come and gone, and it appears that the Bears have a plan in place. Did I agree with that plan at every twist and turn? No, not really, but I also really enjoyed some of their moves so it all balances out. And they were active, and that definitely made for an exciting weekend. But what's done is done. The picks I like will obviously work out, and hopefully my genius fails me on the picks that I didn't like. So far, I have had the chance to break down:

First Round Pick: Leonard Floyd, Linebacker, Georgia
Second Round Pick: Cody Whitehair, Offensive Guard, Kansas State
Third Round Pick: Jonathan Bullard, Defensive Lineman, Florida

Today, we look at the Bears first fourth round pick, Nick Kwiatkoski, a linebacker out of West Virginia. Now with the Bears first three picks, it was plenty easy to find game tape to watch enough film to make strong evaluations. That changes in the fourth round, as Draft Breakdown only had one game of film to watch (which I should mention is still amazing that I can even get one ten-minute film of an entire game's worth of plays), so I'll be checking out his game against Kansas State to see what type of player the Bears were able to acquire.

Inside linebacker is an instinctual position without a whole lot of flash to it. It fills a role, but it's rarely a big play position. It's consistency that is the key. A worry may be how he performs in coverage, as he got caught looking into the backfield instead of sticking with the tight end on this play.
I mean, the bad news is obvious. He lost track of his man and gave up a 20-yard reception. The good news is that when he jammed him off the line of scrimmage, he pushed the tight end about five yards outside, so nice pop from Kwiatkoski.

Kwiatkoski did have three interceptions on the year, but it was not because of excellent coverage skills. He caught one off of a deflection, one when he jumped near the line of scrimmage and the quarterback just didn't throw the ball high enough, with his final one being the most impressive as he was sitting in zone coverage and made a nice break on the ball.

And that was about the only play that stood out in the least bit against Kansas State. It was definitely not his best game of the season, as there was virtually nothing to go off of on the film. So I decided to consult the highlight video to see if I could find out anything more about Kwiatkoski.

That power showed up again on run plays as he showed that he can fill a hole and stop a running back from getting any forward momentum with this hit.
That is a great job by him to explode through the tackle and wrap up to finish the job.

His athletic numbers are not only solid, but that is what you would expect from a fourth round pick, unless that fourth rounder was VERY raw. Kwiatkoski is not going to win with athleticism, he'll do it with instincts, which seems to be the case for just about every successful middle linebacker.

Even after the highlight video, it was tough to get too excited, but that's not Kwiatkoski's game. He's going to fill a role. The guy doesn't have exciting potential, but he's also not likely to kill you. He can be a solid middle linebacker. I know that's not sexy, but considering what the Bears were forced to trot out last year, depth was needed, even with their free agent signings. He'll start off as a backup inside linebacker, and he seems like a guy who can step up as a starter if needed. 

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