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2016 NFL Draft Prospect Preview: LB Nick Kwiatkoski is a Late Round Possibility

Three year starter with the Mountaineers, Kwiatkoski was the leading tackler in Morgantown in all three of those seasons. This converted safety has the toughness and athleticism to make an immediate impact on special teams and the ability to grow into a starter at inside linebacker. Likely a day three pick, but plenty of potential mixed with past production.

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Nick Kwiatkoski is not a highly-touted name.  However, he was a three-year starter in a major college football conference.  Kwiatkoski is an interesting name all the same.  Originally recruited as a safety, his coaches at West Virginia University moved him to the linebacker position and he played all three linebacker positions during his time in Morgantown.  In moving to linebacker, Kwiatkoski added the bulk necessary to hold his own in the center of the defense.  This quick, sure-tackling throwback thrived in the transition and garnered some attention before heading off to the NFL.

Kwiatkoski started in his redshirt sophomore season at the weak-side outside linebacker position at West Virginia.  He posted 86 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks and 3 interceptions.  During his junior season, he moved to the middle linebacker position and added 103 tackles with 11.5 TFL.  Just for good measure, Kwiatkoski moved to the strong-side linebacker position in 2015 and finished with 86 tackles, 10.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks.  Kwiatkoski also made his presence felt in the passing game with seven passes defensed and three more interceptions.  His senior season ended with a First-Team All-Big XII honor.  Perhaps the most impressive fact is Kwiatkoski was the Mountaineers' leading tackler all three seasons.

At the Combine, Kwiatkoski showed good athleticism.  Nothing spectacular, but solid across the board.  He ran a 4.73-second 40-yard dash (15th among all linebackers), a 7.16 three-cone drill (11th), and a 4.22-second 20-yard shuttle (5th).  He also put up 19 reps in the bench press (13th), a 32-inch vertical jump (14th), and 120-inch broad jump (9th).  Kwiatkoski shows a well rounded ability in his measureables.  Nothing jumps off the board, but he has the combination of speed, quickness, strength and explosiveness that would allow him the versatility to fit most schemes.

Kwiatkoski came to Morgantown as 6'2", 215-pound safety and leaves as a 6'2", 243-pound linebacker.  This shows how he was able to change to suit his team's needs.  For a converted safety, he shows a great ability to play in the wash and locate the ball.  While he is a sure tackler, Kwiatkoski takes on blockers with his shoulder too often and allows blockers to get to his body.  He generally projects anywhere from fifth to seventh round depending who you ask.  Scouts Inc. appears to be the highest on his ability as they rank him as the 75th best overall player and the third best inside linebacker.  CBS ranks him much lower at 215th overall and ninth among inside linebackers.

If the Packers do not address inside linebacker early, Kwiatkoski might be someone to keep an eye on in the later rounds, and he would be an immediate special teams contributor.  He plays with anger and has an immediacy to his action.  He has shown that he has a great deal of flexibility in terms of playing inside and outside, in the wash and in space, against the run and in pass coverage.  He is not a future star, but he could be a great role player.  He provides the mean streak that could make him a good presence on the field and in the huddle.