Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Paul Kruger
Paul Kruger (DE)
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 263
College: Utah
Conference: Pac-12
Hometown: Orem, UT
High School: Timpanogos
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Baltimore Ravens
Round: 2
Pick (Overall): 25 (57)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: The high-motor pass rush specialist is a bit raw as a player but he possesses the tools to be an effective situational player. Kruger wears down opponents with his relentless approach, and he's a player with his best football in front of him. Though the Ravens have a stable of pass rushers, Kruger gives them another one to add to the rotation.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

To call Kruger a battler might be an understatement.


As a child, he lost a kidney as a result of an automobile accident, but that did not prevent him from pursuing football. He later served on a two-year LDS Church mission after joining the Utah University football team as a quarterback in 2004.


When he returned, he quickly established himself as a standout defensive lineman. After the 2008 season, Kruger was stabbed during a fight outside a party. Kruger survived, but was stabbed twice in the area of his ribs and abdomen and the wound was perilously close to a lung. The Salt Lake County Sheriff's office said deputies were called to the party because of noise and learned of the stabbing after they arrived. The victims had already left the party and investigators are still trying to figure out who had stabbed them.


Held out of 2008 spring drills as he recovered from his injuries, Kruger was back on the field by fall camp, producing a banner season that saw the Utes compile a 13-0 record that included a Sugar Bowl victory over Southeastern Conference powerhouse, Alabama. After two seasons of college football, the right defensive end decided to forgo his eligibility and has primed himself for his next big battle -- playing in the NFL.


Sports are commonplace in the Kruger household. In addition to Paul competing for Utah the past two seasons, he was joined on their defensive line by his younger brother, Dave. Both have solid bloodlines, as their father, Paul, played football at Oregon State. Their father married his college sweetheart, Jennifer, who was a member of Oregon State's women track and field team.


Kruger served as team captain during his senior year at Timpanogos High School, where he lettered four times on the gridiron. The All-American and All-Conference selection was rated as one of the nation's top thirty quarterbacks by Student Sports magazine. He was also a member of the school's Honor Roll.


Kruger enrolled at Utah in 2004, performing on the scout team as the varsity went undefeated. After returning from a two-year church mission, he was shifted to defensive end, earning a starting job at right defensive end. The Freshman All-American recorded 63 tackles (24 solo) with three sacks and ranked fourth on the squad with 7.5 stops for loss. He also broke up five passes and intercepted another.


In 2008, Kruger earned All-American honorable mention and first-team All-Mountain West Conference accolades. He started all year at right defensive end, posting 61 tackles (31 solo), as he led the team with 7.5 sacks and 16.5 stops for losses. He also caused two fumbles and had the second interception of his career.


After that campaign, Kruger decided it was time to leave school and entered the 2009 NFL Draft.


High School

Attended Timpanogos (Ut.) High School, lettering four times in football...Served as squad captain as a senior...The All-American and All-Conference selection was rated as one of the nation's top thirty quarterbacks by Student Sports magazine...Member of the school's Honor Roll.


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Analysis

Positives: Tall with a fairly developed upper body and the frame to add another 10-15 pounds of muscle without losing speed. Relentless as a pass rusher, works hard to attack the passer in or outside the pocket. Gets under his man's pads to push him into the quarterback. Overwhelms backs and tight ends in pass protection. Nice straight-line and closing speed. Flashes explosiveness as a tackler and has the length to secure. Also hustles down the line and chases ballcarriers downfield. Good backfield awareness and lateral agility to knock down passes and keep containment on reverses, run plays and bootlegs. Very good changing direction in space and can drop fluidly. Effective playing upright as a 3-4 rush linebacker due to his length, hustle and athleticism. Handles coverage responsibilities, staying with backs in the flat and on wheel routes. Breaks down and drops his hips in space better than you'd expect for his size. Mature player with an excellent motor.


Negatives: Must continue to build strength throughout his body. Plays too tall at times, allowing better offensive tackles to latch on and take him out of the play. Has not yet mastered how to rip off blocks at the line. Needs more pass rush moves, relies on a bull rush that was effective at Utah but might not be against stronger NFL tackles. Will be a 23-year-old rookie with just two years of college football experience.


Compares To: AARON KAMPMAN, Green Bay -- Kruger is a perfect complement for a team that likes a strong work ethic in a player. There might be bigger, faster and stronger defensive linemen in the draft, but Kruger has enough versatility in his game to put his hand down in a 4-3 alignment or stand up in a 3-4 formation. Kampman has had a good run without having superstar athletic skills. Give Kruger a year or two to adapt and he could be a big hit.


Injury Report

Childhood: Injuries suffered in a car accident required the removal of one kidney.


2008: Was one of two Utah players stabbed during a fight outside a party on Jan. 20. Kruger survived, but was stabbed twice in the area of his ribs and abdomen and the wound was perilously close to his lung.


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