2015 NFL Draft Player Profiles: North Dakota State OLB Kyle Emanuel

As we delve further into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has begun to shift towards the draft. Like we’ve done all offseason; these reports will cover the prospects of the 2015 NFL Draft, placing an emphasis on those who could help the Steelers the most.

The Steelers were themselves this offseason, not active in the free agent market. The need for an edge rusher grows and depth is a big issue. Today, we examine small school prospect Kyle Emanuel.

#53 – Kyle Emanuel/ OLB North Dakota State: 6032, 255lbs

The Good

-Ideal size for the position
-High football IQ, has great instincts
-Active in run support, sets edge well
-Endless motor
-Has experience in coverage
-Has excellent tackling form
-Is equipped with an arsenal of moves (rip,swim,bull rush etc..)
-Takes precise angles
-Extremely productive
-Adds special teams value
-Great upside
-Very physical at the line of scrimmage
-Productive against FBS opponents

The Bad

-Slow get off, needs to have a quicker and more explosive first step
-Short arms at 31 inches
-Didn’t play against strong competition
-Needs to add some strength to his bull rush
-Can get swallowed up and disappear when rushes inside
-Needs to work on hand fighting
-Can get bullied at line of scrimmage
-Only played with hand down

Other

-2014 Buck Buchanan Award Winner (Top Defensive Player in the Football Championship Subdivision)
-2014 AFCA FCS All-America First Team
-2014 Associated Press All-America First Team
-2014 Sports Network All-America First Team
-2014 FCS Athletic Directors Association Defensive Player of the Year
-2014 College Football Performance.com National Defensive Performer of the Year
-2014 Walter Camp All-America Team
-2014 MVFC Defensive Player of the Year
-2014 All-MVFC First Team
-41 career total sacks
-61 career games including 49 starts
-234 total career tackles and 58.5 tackles for loss
-Construction management major (3.66 GPA)

Tape Breakdown

Emanuel is explosive and fun to watch. He doesn’t make many mistakes and does many things right. His fundamentals are down and he will need some coaching up at the next level due to his strict position of defensive end. The transition to outside linebacker shouldn’t be too difficult for the North Dakota State product as he has displayed coverage skills and a pass rushing repertoire. Also helps that he has a high football IQ and managed a 3.66 GPA.

Emanuel’s motor is one of his biggest assets as it never stops. In the first GIF, he is at his defensive end position and it is a wide receiver screen. Emanuel manages to engage the tackle, disengage and run all the way over to the receiver before he can get up field. Great hustle and effort, NFL coaches will love this. In the second GIF, he rushes the quarterback and it is a running back screen. He recognizes it and runs after the running back. After 23 yards, he assists in the tackle. Again, great hustle and effort; and who doesn’t love the swan dive tackle at the end to reassure he is down?

It is a short yardage situation and Emanuel gets a good push on the guard. He keeps one arm free and wraps it around the running back, then drives him to the ground preventing the first down. Love the display of strength and the technique he uses to make the play.

This doesn’t happen too often, but at times Emanuel can get bullied at the line of scrimmage. He gets no push and cannot generate any leverage. Here, he cannot set the edge and keep containment. This allows the running back to get to the edge and gain substantial yards.

Emanuel thrives in the run game. He could set the edge and keep containment or he could gain leverage and close in on the ball carrier. Here, he gives the tackle an explosive first step, pushes him out of the way and then delivers a thump to the ball carrier that he’ll feel in the morning.

No NFL coach wants a soft defensive player, especially in their front seven. Good thing Emanuel doesn’t fit that bill. Emanuel is very physical and he is relentless. Here, he shows off his physicality by stunting inside and taking on a guard. His bull rush is too much for the guard and he backs up the guard seven yards, disengages and takes down the quarterback. Emanuel isn’t a one trick pony in the sense that he is only able to take on tackles; he has the strength to take on guards as well. Don’t believe me? Look down.

One thing Emanuel needs to work on is his B gap stunts (in between the guard and tackle gap). His shorter arms make it difficult for him to sustain leverage and he tends to get swallowed up. In the GIFs below, they demonstrate what I mean exactly. In the first GIF, the tackle keeps him off balance and he can’t rebound to get back to the edge. In the second GIF, the same thing happens except this time a tight end gets the best of him. Would like to see a spin move or more power from his inside arm to separate him from the tackle or tight end.

Emanuel has great instincts and football IQ. Here, instead of blindly rushing the quarterback, he reads the play action. He diagnoses it as a pass and makes his run at the quarterback. The running back stands no chance as he gives him a nifty swim move and takes down the quarterback. Looks like a lion going after its prey if you ask me.

This is probably my favorite play that I’ve seen Emanuel make, and he has made A LOT of plays. He ran a 4.77 40-yard dash at the combine. Take a look at this GIF and then you’ll agree with me when I say that he plays much faster on the field. Right off the snap, he reads option. He shuffles horizontally down the line of scrimmage reading the quarterback. Once the quarterback pitches the ball, his hips flip fast and he runs down the running back making a great tackle. If this doesn’t get you excited about this guy I’m not sure what else will.

There’s not much to dislike about this guy. He brings high energy and an even bigger motor. Besides the shorter arms, his flaws are all coachable and he will need some time on special teams to prove his worth. Being in the FCS, stats are usually inflated, but you can see on tape that he single handedly dominates games. Emanuel recorded 16.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in eight games against top 25 opponents. This is proof that he was dominant against anyone that his schedule threw at him. If the Steelers want to double up on pass rushers, he could be taken in the 6th or 7th round. He would be a special teams demon and provide much needed depth at the outside linebacker spot. With Jarvis Jones extremely unproven and Arthur Moats not a long term solution, doubling up on pass rushers is definitely not out of the question.

Projection: 6th-7th

Games Watched: 2014 vs Sam Houston State, 2014 vs Coastal Carolina, 2014 vs Illinois State (FCS Championship)

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About the Author

Chris Nicolaou
I'm 22 years old and I'm from Campbell, Ohio. After I graduate with my bachelors, my plans are to go to graduate school to pursue my MBA and my Masters of Sports Business Management degree. I have been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan my entire life and I love to evaluate players and create mock drafts.