Top 10 Sleeper Inside Linebackers For The Bears In The 2016 NFL Draft
Nick Kwiatkoski-West Virginia– Nick Kwiatkoski is another explosive hitting ILB. He was also the heart of the Mountaineer defense and is a natural leader on and off the field. Another kid that profiles as a perfect Fox and Vic Fangio prospect. Kwiatkoski also is a former high school wide receiver and safety who worked his butt off in the weight room to get his body acclimated to playing ILB. Intangibles and character are extremely high within this kid. Made all big-12 as a linebacker his senior season after converting from a safety/receiver in high school. Has a great floor with a bit of upside. Definitely has the look of someone who can exceed expectations as he has his entire college career.
MEASUREABLES AND PRODUCTION:
Kwiatkoski had no problem filling up a stat sheet. A tackling machine in his career as a Mountaineer leading them in that department the last three seasons. As a sophomore in his first season at linebacker playing the weak-side he had a team high 86 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 3 picks. As a Junior paying the middle he had a team high 103 tackles 11.5 for loss. His senior season was impressive production wise. Again led the team with 86 tackles, 10 for loss, had 3 picks and 7 pass breakups as well. Also added 3 sacks, and both one fumble caused and recovered each. See his career stats here. See his measurables and NFL.com draft profile here.
Positives: Starting out as a safety in high-school Kwiatkoski has developed very good instincts against the pass. He was also a receiver which helped him understand route running concepts, as well as helped him in coverage in the pass happy big-12. Very instinctive and Versatile athlete. Played Will as a red-shirt sophomore, Mike as a Junior, and Sam as a senior, and as previously mentioned played as a safety. Knows zone assignments and how to read a developing play before him. Good on field communicator. He’s also a thumper and explosive tackler. He will drive through his tackles. He’s also very sound fundamentally with text book technique as a tackler. Plays with a high motor, and is very good with backside pursuit. Also has a high football intellect. Will be at the very least an excellent core special teamer, and reliable back-up with a chance to surprise and be more than that. If not with the Bears, elsewhere…and may bring a good value return either in a trade, or a compensatory pick should he sign elsewhere as a free agent.
Negatives: Probably the biggest negative with Kwiatkoski is despite his hard work adding 40 pounds of muscle after making the switch from safety/receiver out of high school he is probably not as strong as he needs to be to take on power players consistently and win in the NFL. The good news is he has the frame to add even another 10 pounds without sacrificing athleticism. Maybe there are some technique issues he need to work on, but other than that a very good day 3 prospect with a lot to work with. Very difficult to see any other huge holes in his profile.
Next: Sleeper Inside Linebacker # 8