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A.J. Klein, ILB

School: Iowa State  |  Conference: BIG12
College Experience: Senior  |  Hometown: Kimberly, WI
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 250 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
10943-4

Player Lowdown

Combine Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.662.691.6020 -9'5"--
Workout Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
---- ----

Strengths Weaknesses

Strengths

Excellent key and diagnosis skills. Reads the action and gets a jump-start, often beating blockers to the ball. Better than advertised speed to the flanks and in pursuit downfield and is a quick accelerator, able to slip through gaps to make plays at the line ofscrimmage. Scrapes the edge nicely, showing good balance and flexibility to dip under the reach of offensive linemen, turn quickly and close on the ball. Technically sound defender who extends his arms and delivers a blow to separate from would-be blockers before they have a chance to latch on. Reliable open-field tackler. Breaks down well and has the patience to wait for the ball-carrier to commit before making the secure wrap-up tackle. Alert in zone coverage. Reads the quarterback's eyes and shows a good understanding of route-development as well as the burst to close on the ball. Good ball skills. Shows some vision to set up blocks on the return and surprising open field running skills. Passionate defender who was voted a team captain as a junior and senior.

Weaknesses

Could be viewed by some as a bit of a 'tweener as he lacks ideal athleticism for the outside and does not take on and shed blocks as well as preferred to remain inside. Usually has to give ground to release from blocks once his opponents get their hands into his chest. Is not a physically intimidating striker, though he is a reliable tackler. Does not possess ideal fluidity for man to man coverage in the NFL.

Compares To: James Laurinaitis, ILB, St. Louis Rams

--Rob Rang

Player Overview

Paired with outside linebacker Jake Knott, Klein made up half of arguably the top linebacker tandem in the nation over the past couple of seasons. Klein's terrific play didn't end in Ames, however. A solid performance at the East-West Shrine Game might have teams wondering if the highly instinctive playmaker can enjoy similar production in the NFL.

Klein was a three-star recruit out of Wisconsin, but didn't receive an offer from the Badgers and accepted a scholarship from the Cyclones.

After limited playing time as a freshman in 2009, he became a starter in 2010 and was quickly a standout, registering 111 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. He followed that up two more remarkably statistically-similar campaigns, averaging 116.5 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and another interception, each of which he returned for a score. Characterized by many throughout his career as lacking athleticism, Klein leaves Iowa State having tied the FBS record with four touchdowns scored off of interception returns.

Named a consensus All-Big 12 player in 2012 and the co-Defensive Player of the Year out of the conference (along with Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander) in 2011, Klein has proved himself to be among the more consistent and dependable linebackers in the country. While he may not possess the ideal timed speed or change of direction of his peers, he's fast on the field due to terrific instincts and effort.

As such, don't be among those "surprised" when his success continues in the NFL, even if he winds up being drafted later than his production would seem to warrant.

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LATEST NEWS
04/24/2013 - 2013 NFL DRAFT RANG'S GANG: ILB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State, 6-1, 250, 4.66...Proving bigger and faster than virtually any of the inside linebackers tested this year at the combine, Klein shattered the misconception that his eye-popping production reflected good instincts which masked less-than-ideal athleticism. Of course, scouts should have known this already based on the FBS record he set for linebackers with four touchdowns scored off of interceptions over his career. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

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