A two-sport athlete in high school, Kyle Long decided to play baseball at Florida State, and with a mid-90s fastball as a lefty, who could blame him for choosing his first love? But that only lasted a year as he struggled with academics and had a DUI arrest.
After returning home, Kyle enrolled at Saddleback Junior College where he played for two seasons, first at defensive end (16 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack) and then switching over to the offensive line in his second season at the junior college level.
Characterized by Howie and Chris as the most athletic member of the family, it was easy to understand why Kyle was highly recruited out of Saddleback despite his lack of experience. He signed with the Ducks amid some fanfare and served as a valuable backup at left tackle before switching to left guard midway through the season. We wound up playing in 11 games for the Ducks in 2012, starting four games (all at left guard). Long petitioned the NCAA for another year of eligibility but was denied and therefore finds himself headed to the NFL with just four career starts at the FCS level.
Big, physical and remarkably athletic, Long possesses the upside to warrant early round consideration. He is, however, quite inexperienced and therefore a significant roll of the dice if selected any earlier than Day Three.
Very mobile. Often asked to block on the move in this scheme, demonstrating very good lateral agility and straight-line speed, as well as the short-area quickness to adjust and hit the moving target. Flashs some nastiness to his game. Doesn't back down from physical challenges. Has heavy hands and can stun opponents with his initial punch.
Keeps his legs driving on contact and can move defenders out of the hole. Enjoyed a solid performance in the Senior Bowl, itself, after missing a few days of practice with the flu. Clear talent and is just scratching the surface of his potential.
WEAKNESSES: Isn't the sum of his parts yet. Has rotated between left tackle and left guard over just two seasons playing on the offensive line and has been protected a bit by Oregon's quick-hitting scheme which rarely asks their offensive linemen to maintain blocks for very long.
Has a tendency to punch at his defender, rather than latch on and needs to develop better hand placement, in general. Athletic enough to adjust on the fly but lacks experience and is prone to mental errors against surprise stunts, blitzes.
Was unable to compete for the most important two days of practice at the Senior Bowl (Tuesday, Wednesday) due to a bout of the flu, missing out on a chance to impress scouts. His DUI charge while at Florida State will have to be investigated by teams.
Compares to: Jason Peters, OT, Philadelphia Eagles -- Peters was originally a defensive lineman before making the transition to tight end in college and ultimately emerging as a quality offensive tackle for the Bills (and later signing with the Eagles).
His impressive combination of size and athleticism gave him a shot at the NFL despite having no experience as an offensive lineman. Long is similarly large and athletic but has two years head start on Peters and, of course, has his famous family to help him get an opportunity in the league. A team willing to gamble on his significant upside could win big.