I'm getting old and experienced enough to come across the younger brothers and younger cousins of guys that I once loved coming out of the Draft. Darius Slay, brother of Dwayne Slay, is a perfect example. God help me when I get old enough to like the sons of guys I used to like coming out of the Draft.
Joe Kruger is a 6'6" and 280 lbs monster of a defensive end coming out of Utah. I loved his brother Paul Kruger coming out of the same program. Paul is a free agent this year, but at 6'4" and 263 lbs and more importantly considering the positions he's played at Baltimore, I'm not sure Miami would have interest in Paul as being the kind of player they would play opposite Cameron Wake. Joe Kruger, based on his size as well as his playing style, fits that bill.
Trivia Note: Unlike Paul, I'm guessing Joe Kruger doesn't have a huge surgical scar on his stomach from getting knifed by a bunch of latino gangsters.
If you're wondering why you didn't see Joe at the Senior Bowl or Shrine Game, it's because he's a junior. He came out early as his brother Dave Kruger, the defensive tackle that started along side Star Lotulelei, is graduating this year. Joe decided they should try their NFL fortunes together.
Right now I think Joe is a bit underfollowed and underrated. It could be because he's an underclassman. But I don't think he would have come out if he got an Advisory grade that said 7th round. Nor do I think that's appropriate for him based on what I'm seeing on film.
Let's not confuse this guy with J.J. Watt. He doesn't have Watt's unique bending ability at that size.
However, I think of Joe Kruger as the player that Margus Hunt should be.
First off, unlike Margus Hunt, Joe Kruger is just a baby at 20 years old. He won't even get to celebrate his being drafted with a drink until five or six weeks after the Draft.
This guy's body is still developing and yet it's already monstrously strong and very, very athletic for his size. He runs a 4.78 in the 40 yard dash according to the people at Utah that have timed him.
The player that Margus Hunt is going to have to try to be at the next level is going to be a base defensive end that moves inside on pass rush downs. The problem is, Hunt has not proven to be an effective run defender from that end position, nor has he proven he can consistently rush the passer from the interior. In my opinion, Joe Kruger has shown both of those things in his Utah tape a little bit better than Hunt, at a far younger age.
I think a lot of people might get turned off by the Jared Odrick experience and not want this type of player. But let's keep in mind that the Dolphins seem to WANT that Jared Odrick type of player opposite Cameron Wake. They want a Joe Kruger, and if they lose Randy Starks in free agency and have to slide Odrick into Starks' old spot, they'll probably be looking for a Joe Kruger.
It's not all cakes and rainbows for Joe Kruger. His toughest draw of the year probably came against Colorado's David Bakhtiari. I had at least 9 snaps where Kruger engaged Bakhtiaria in a pass rush during either an obvious pass situation or one that was close enough that it didn't matter since Kruger engaged a pass rushing technique. Bakhtiari shut him down on all but one of those snaps when Kruger cut inside of him and pressured the quarterback which caused a sack.
That said, a play later on the field goal attempt, Kruger blocked the field goal, and then later in the game during the final 2 minutes in a perfect closing situation where Colorado is trying to score a game-tying drive, Kruger came alive in pass rush as he was placed over right tackle instead of on Bakhtiari. Kruger hit the quarterback, who ducked out of it and was quickly sacked by Lotulelei in mop-up. He also had a nice TFL on that drive. Was just too raw and inexperienced in pass rush technique to make any headway on the more savvy Bakhtiari. But in that game and others where you really see him come alive in pass rush more is when he cuts inside and rushes over a guard, and I think that translates to the Miami Dolphins should they lose Randy Starks.
I think this is a fine developmental prospect that rates higher than where you'll see him ranked most places. At only 20 years old this guy's body is still developing in addition to his technique, which to me makes him more attractive than Margus Hunt since they're very similar as players.
He may not be J.J. Watt, but here is a very Watt-like interception he returned for a touchdown this year. You'll have to manually fast-forward to 38:30 in the following video, but it's a really nice look at the play, and a hell of a play overall:
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The more enterprising of you may think to look for Joe Kruger videos on YouTube by looking for Star Lotulelei videos. Unfortunately the only 2012 videos I've seen of Star are the BYU and USC games. Kruger's BYU game is already capped beautifully by Aaron Aloysius. And alas, it looks like he didn't play in the USC game due to injury.