Photo of A.J. Klein
Drafted By: Panthers

Combine Results

56.3 ?
  • 4.66 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 20 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 113.0 INCH
    Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

  • 6'1" Height
  • 32 7/8" Arm Length
  • 250LBS. Weight
  • 10 1/4" Hands


Klein is the type of intense, instinctive defender all coaches want suiting up for them -– even opposing Big 12 coaches allowed him to share the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011 with Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander. But he shows enough athleticism to handle coverage responsibilities against tight ends and receivers, as well, making him a potential mid-round pick as a starter on the strong side or in the middle at the next level.

The first-team all-state pick from Kimberly, Wis. led his team to consecutive state titles in 2007 and 2008, and showed no hesitation upon arriving in Ames, making an impact on special teams as a true freshman (17 tackles, forced fumbles). His footprint on defense got much deeper in 2010, as he garnered honorable mention All-Big 12 honors from league coaches and media by making 111 tackles, eight for loss, intercepting three passes – scoring on two of them in back-to-back games against Kansas State (returning the pick 69 yards) and Northern Iowa (25 yards). In his first-team All-Big 12 junior season, his tackle total increased to 117, with 7.5 going for loss, two sacks, an interception and six pass break-ups. In 2012, Klein was once again named to the Coaches All-Big-12 first-team. Klein duplicated his 117 tackle total of the year prior. He also contributed 3.5 tackles for loss, and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown.



Klein is a three year starter that served as the leader for the Iowa State football team. Fiery. Active and instinctual linebacker who plays all three positions in the stack. Klein is a very intilligent and instinctual football player. He reads his keys well, trusts what he sees, and very rarely takes false steps, or wastes motions. Flashes quickness to the ball due to great hustle and immediate play recognition. Scrapes adeptly, finding his way across the formation to stuff runs. Uses his hands to swipe off oncoming blockers, and fight through traffic. Takes on blocks well before shedding. Stacks running backs in the hole, stops their momentum. Does a good job getting proper depth in his drops, while never losing sight of the quarterback. Knocks receivers off their routes. Gets his hands on the football, and has displayed the ability to make the interception, and return it for the score. (four pick-six plays in his career).


Lacks elite straight-line and recovery speed. Struggles to in man coverage. Cannot consistently run down plays from the back side. Inconsistent breaking down to make stops in space. Lacks great flexibility to turn the corner as a pass rusher or adjust to elusive ballcarriers, can slip off tackles when coming in too high.

NFL Comparison

Scott Shanle

Bottom Line

Klein is a tough-minded, instinctual, and productive linebacker (345 tackles in his three seasons as a starter). He plays inside and outside, showing the strength against the run and enough instincts in coverage to do potentially play all three downs at the next level as well as contributing heavily on special teams early in his career.
Grade Title Draft (Round) Description
96-100 Future Hall of Famer Top Pick A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
85-95 Immediate Starter 1st An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
70-84 Eventual Starter 2nd-3rd A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
50-69 Draftable Player 4th-7th A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
20-49 Free Agent UDFA A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.