The Pittsburgh Steelers signed defensive end Joe Kruger to their practice squad on Monday after losing former seventh-round draft pick Nick Williams to the Kansas City Chiefs and below is a look at the Utah product.
Kruger, who measured in at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine at 6062, 279 pounds, was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh-round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He put up 225 pounds on the bench 24 times and posted a 4.81 forty-yard dash time while in Indianapolis.
According to his official NCAA stats, Kruger registered 69 total tackles and nine total sacks in the 37 games that he played in while at Utah. He came out after his junior season and many scouts believe that he would’ve benefited by staying in school another year.
Kruger spent his entire rookie season on the Eagles injured reserve list thanks to a shoulder injury that he suffered in the final preseason game against the New York Jets.
Earlier this year Kruger was waived by the Eagles after playing in their first three preseason games in which he recorded five total tackles and one sack in 53 snaps played. The San Diego Chargers claimed Kruger off of waivers from the Eagles but they also waived him after their preseason finale. Kruger ended the 2014 preseason with nine total tackles in 72 snaps played.
Kruger was signed to the Green Bay Packers practice squad in early October but wound being released just less than a month later.
Kruger, who is the younger brother of Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger, has reportedly bulked up to 290 pounds since coming out of college.
Kruger has the build you look for in a 3-4, five-technique defensive end, but it’s obvious that he still has a lot to learn when it comes to technique and anchoring. Back before he was drafted, I remember writing that he could stand to use some sand in his pants as he seemed to be easily moved at times in the tape that I watched of him at Utah.
Kruger also didn’t seem to be fluid with his movements back when I watched him and I didn’t view him as being very nimble on his feet. He wasn’t very explosive off of the ball in college and failed to use his hands well on a consistent basis.
Being as Kruger has had a hard time sticking with a team after originally being drafted, you have to wonder about his long term upside. He certainly has an NFL bloodline, so we’ll see if Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell can break him down and put him back together over the course of the next several weeks in hopes that he can eventually provide some future depth at defensive end.
We’ll see if Kruger manages to stick around on the practice squad for the remainder of the season and if he does, there’s a good chance the Steelers will sign him to a futures contract.