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Tag:Nick Kaczur
Posted on: November 17, 2010 12:04 am
 

Toledo C Kowalski earns Diamond in the Rough

Typically when I list a Diamond in the Rough prospect I focus on D-II or D-III prospects. Toledo, currently in second place in the West Division of the MAC and already eligible for their first bowl game since 2005 is hardly "the rough."  That said, their talented senior center Kevin Kowalski isn't generating enough national attention in my opinion, considering that NFL scouts tell me he is a legitimate draft selection and, in fact, worthy of being listed among the top five senior pivots in the country. Kowalski currently is NFLDraftScout.com's third-rated senior center prospect for the 2011 draft.

I was impressed with Kowalski's play last week in a nationally televised MAC showdown with West-division leader Northern Illinois. While the NIU Huskies ultimately prevailed in this contest, Kowalski legitimized the chatter about him in scouting circles with his performance.

The 6-3, 299 pound Kowalski started at center for the Rockets, as he has for the past 21 games. Kowalski started the 12 games of his sophomore season at right guard and has now started 44 games for Toledo.

Kowalski's intelligence, strength and balance stand out on film. He has the agility and size to potentially slide back outside to guard at the next level, though as he demonstrated with his line calls, he has the smarts to remain inside. He did a nice job of combo blocks, taking on one defender and sliding off to hit another.

Though Toledo operates out of a spread offense, Kowalski was at his best as a drive blocker, demonstrating good upper body strength to latch onto the defender and eliminate him from the play. Northern Illinois ran various defensive formations at him, lining up a nose guard, three-technique and blitzing linebackers throughout the night.

Kowalski plays with good knee bend and his school-high 465 pound bench press is evident in the way he can absorb the bull rush. He has good lateral agility and balance to mirror in pass protection, though he has a tendency to resort to cut blocks a little more often that I'd like. One other concern is that Kowalski only showed moderate overall agility when asked to block on the move. While he can get to the second level, he struggles to break down and hit the moving target. He does provide good effort, however, and understands blocking angles, forcing defenders to run around him before getting to the ball-carrier. Still, scouts would like to see Kowalski improve his effectiveness in this area.

Scouts will question Kowalski's level of competition -- just as they did former Toledo standout offensive linemen Nick Kaczur (Patriots) and John Greco (Rams). Like each of these former Rockets, however, Kowalksi should emerge as an NFL contributor relatively early in his pro career, likely earning a mid round selection.

 
Posted on: August 18, 2010 3:36 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2010 3:47 pm
 

Pats give OG Simmons a chance, despite clubfoot

With Pro Bowler Logan Mankins holding out and the Nick Kaczur's back a potential season-long issue, the Patriots were in the market for an offensive guard.

The man they picked up, former Oklahoma standout Brian Simmons, is as surprising a choice as there could be.

You see Simmons, a 6-4, 315 pound former defensive tackle who played in 42 games for the Sooners at left and right guard, has a clubfoot. He wasn't invited to the Combine and despite plenty of hype surrounding him, wasn't drafted. As his mother explained in an sad email used by David Ubben on ESPN's Big 12 blog , her son's clubfoot had landed him on the NFL reject list.

A clubfoot, according to WebMD , is a deformity that occurs in the tendons of the foot prior to birth. The tendons force the foot to turn downward and inward towards the other foot. It may result in the foot, especially after the heel, being smaller than the other foot. To correct the issue, the foot is often broken and placed in a cast to re-shape it.

According to Brandon George's article in the Dallas Morning News, Simmons wears a size 17.5 shoe on his left foot and a size 16 on his right.

George's article, written in August of 2007, notes that Simmons has had his right foot broken and re-set a staggering 16 times during surgeries.

With thousands of prospects to grade, NFL teams rely on sharing medical information. It is one of the primary reasons for the development of the Scouting Combine as we now know it. By being placed on the reject list, Simmons had virtually no shot at getting as much as a workout from an NFL team despite the fact that other professional athletes, including Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, have beaten clubfoot to enjoy productive careers.

Simmons was an often-used backup for much of his career, but a knee injury robbed him of five games during his senior campaign -- the only year in which he started at Oklahoma. Playing next to Trent Williams for much of the time, Simmons' athleticism and balance stands out on film. He proved at his Pro Day (the official Oklahoma Pro Day March 9, not Sam Bradford's throwing session March 29) that he was a legitimate draftable athlete at guard -- especially considering the relatively weak crop of talent that was available this year. Simmons measured in at 6-4 1/4, 315 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash between 5.19-5.26. He was timed at 4.75 in the short shuttle, 7.61 in the 3-cone and posted a 28" vertical jump and a 8-10" broad jump. I was disappointed, if not surprised, when Simmons wasn't drafted or immediately signed as a high priority free agent.

Fortunately for Simmons (and potentially the Patriots), New England elected to roll the dice Sunday and gave the former Sooner a shot.

I, for one, will be rooting for him.

 
 
 
 
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