Character is a big thing in the NFL these days. There have been so many bad headlines from NFL players that teams are wary of guys with off-the-field concerns. Teams also want “locker room guys” who get along with everybody, display some leadership and don’t cause headaches for the coaching staff.
In that way, Virginia Cavaliers’ Micah Kiser is a dream for any NFL team. He’s reputed to be a great guy off the field. He won the Campbell Trophy, referred to as the “Academic Heisman.” His goals for after his playing career are to get into college athletics administration.
Ultimately though, character isn’t everything, at least when we’re talking about getting into the League. You have to bring it on the field too. And Kiser certainly does. Kiser was an All-American this year. In his four years, he racked up 411 tackles and 19 sacks, most of it coming over the past three years, as Kiser didn’t play much as a freshman.
At the NFL Combine, Kiser measured 6’2” and 240 lbs. He ran a 4.66 in the 40, which is well above average for inside linebackers. Other than the 40, the two Combine events that scouts are interested in for ILBs are the 3-cone drill and the short shuttle. Kiser’s 3-cone drill was 7.05 seconds (again, well above average) and his 20-yard shuttle time was 4.24 (slightly above average). Those two events measure ability to stop and start quickly and measure quick bursts of speed. Kiser didn’t do bench press at either the combine or the Virginia Pro Day.
So his 40 time is good, but his shuttle time isn’t. That says his speed is solid but his acceleration isn’t great. ILBs don’t run 40 yard sprints very often, so the shuttle is more important. Kiser isn’t truly a “sideline-to-sideline” ILB, which hurts his value to NFL teams looking for their ILBs to be able to chase down a RB on a sweep.
In the NFL, he’s probably a better fit as a 3-4 ILB, with a speedier ILB next to him. Kiser is very good in crowds at (or near) the line of scrimmage. He’s great at cleaning up the RB as they get through the hole. But on plays outside the box, Kiser might have trouble getting there.
Kiser has also shown strong pass rush skills from the middle of the field. In fact, he is so good there, he could possibly play strong-side LB in a 4-3. It would depend on which team selects Kiser. Below is Kiser on a middle blitz against UCONN this year. He times it perfectly, breaks down and is able to bring down the QB. Yes UCONN is terrible, but Bryant Shirreffs is pretty mobile and tough to bring down.
Kiser would also be an asset on special teams. Even as a senior and team leader, Kiser was regular on special teams for the Hoos. Here’s a play from Kiser in punt coverage.
Mock drafts have Kiser anywhere from round 2 to round 6, with more showing him in the later rounds. That’s my guess. He’ll be drafted in the fifth or sixth round. I think he’s best as a 3-4 ILB, so look for a team running a 3-4 to select him.