With the 43rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens took pass rushing Outside Linebacker Sergio Kindle from the University of Texas. Kindle was in the offensive backfield often during the last two seasons at Texas, where he achieved 34.5 tackles for a loss. Kindle was one of the many leaders on the Longhorns defense both on the field and off it. His play against some of the nation's elite competition is also something to be regarded. Coming into the draft, many thought that it would be crazy to say that Kindle would get past the first round considering he was considered to be the best pure OLB in this year's class. However, Kindle did slip into the 2nd round and the Baltimore Ravens took full advantage of that, selecting what was the best player on their board. Lets take a closer look at the Ravens first selection.
Height: 6'4" 40 Yard Dash: 4.71
Weight: 250 lbs. Bench Press: 25 reps at 225 pounds
Arm Length: 33 1/4 in. Vertical Jump: 36.5 inches
Hand Size:10 in. Broad Jump: 9.5 feet
College: Texas - Big 12 3 Cone-Drill: 7.26 seconds
More on Kindle from a writer of Burnt Orange Nation after the jump
Honors: As a junior, Kindle was first-team All-Big 12 by league coaches, 2nd team All-Big 12 by Associated Press and a 2008 All-American honorable mention by Sports Illustrated.
Senior Year: For the 2009-2010 season, Kindle made the shift from Defensive End to Outside Linebacker where he posted career high in tackles (58). This was also the reason for his drop off in sacks with 10 in 2008 to only 6 in 2009.
Wescott Eberts, a contributor to the Texas Longhorns SB Nation blog, Burnt Orange Nation, was kind enough to do a write up on Kindle for me. As much as us Ravens fans have been getting to know Kindle since Friday night, Eberts is a true Longhorns fan who knows Sergio best. Here is what he had to say to me about the new Baltimore Raven.
To truly understand Kindle, it's probably best to quickly track the arc of his development as a player. Entering college as one of the top prospects in the state due to his unreal combination of size, speed, and physicality, Kindle suffered from injuries, a poor decision in his personal life (his (DWI), and being poorly utilized by defensive coordinators trying to cast him as a linebacker capable of dropping into coverage, an area in which he had no experience in high school. "See the ball, get the ball" appears to be his place in his high school's defensive scheme.
When Will Muschamp arrived at Texas, he realized that relentlessly getting to the football was Kindle's best attribute as a player and instead of making him something he wasn't, Muschamp allowed him to do what he does well -- getting to the football. As a junior, Kindle distinguished himself as a pass rusher off the edge with 10 sacks in a personnel package that used him as an edge rusher, often from an outside linebacker/stand-up defensive end role. It's safe to say that Kindle benefitted greatly from the attention paid to Orakpo on the other side.
His senior season, the numbers weren't there in terms of sacks, both exposing Kindle's limitations as a pass rusher -- he lacks a variety of moves -- and demonstrating just how much teams worked to minimize his impact by sliding the pocket and their protections away from him.. Kindle's devastating hit and forced fumble against Texas Tech turned the tide of a close game and essentially ended the season of Taylor Potts, certainly changing the game in the process. The play, made possible by his "freaky leg plant (http://www.burntorangenation.com/2009/9/30/1061992/snap-shots-sergio-kindles-speed)," put in stark relief just how capable Kindle is of making game-changing plays.
As a run defender, Kindle is excellent, able to pursue down the line of scrimmage using his speed and possessing the strength to deal with blockers at the point of attack. By the end of the season, any offensive coordinator willing to run at Kindle risked having his entire blocking scheme blown up.
Of course, there are concerns about Kindle's injuries, his aptitude for understanding complex defensive schemes, and his short-area mobility (see poor shuttle times. What Kindle does bring is immense physical talent to the table, a relentless motor, and unquestioned physicality. As Muchamp might say, football matters to Kindle and he plays the game that way. As long as his knees hold up, he should have a long, productive NFL career.
With good coaching -- and the Ravens have certainly done that defensively over the years -- there is some upside with Kindle in regards to his ability to expand his capabilities in coverage. but the important point here is that the Ravens defense should be a perfect fit for the former Texas star and as long as the coaches focus early on putting him in a position to succeed by asking him to do what he does well, just as Muschamp did, Kindle should have great success as an OLB and be a strong value pick for the Baltimore organization.
Final Thoughts on Kindle: This pick seems to be one of the biggest steals of the draft. As some have said around the blog, it is going to be hard to keep Kindle off the field. His talent is top notch and is exactly the type of player that the Ravens covet for their defense. It is too early to tell where and when Kindle will be playing, but there is no doubt that we will be seeing a good amount of Sergio during the season. His Special Teams abilities are definitely another plus and we all know how much Harbaugh loves a guy who can play Special Teams. Kindle has already come out and stated that he will be Rookie of the Year for the league, so that tells alot about the drive and determination he has to be great. I expect Kindle to play strictly OLB unless he can add bulk to put a hand in the dirt, but that would take away from his elite quickness off the snap. This should be yet another great player to contribute to the Ravens system for years to come.