NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Virginia ILB Micah Kiser

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#53 Micah Kiser / ILB / 6’2 240 lbs

The Good:

– Consistent tackler
– Smart, diagnoses plays quickly and effectively
– Showcases downhill speed when blitzing the quarterback
– Specifically executes stunt blitzes tremendously
– Patient, reads and reacts, does not get overly aggressive when plugging a gap
– Constantly asked to drop into coverage
– Football IQ covers for lack of elite athleticism in coverage
– Leader

The Bad:

– Lacks elite athleticism to be a true sideline to sideline linebacker
– Stiff body control and change of direction speed
– Cleans up the pile rather than making stops in the backfield
– Often fooled by agile, shiftier ball carriers


– Led the ACC in tackles for three straight years
– 2017: 143 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks
– Career: 408 total tackles, 33.5 tackles for a loss, 19 sacks, 1 int
– Sporting News All American First Team
– 2017 Campbell Trophy Winner
– 2017 Dudley Award Winner

 Tape Breakdown:

Virginia inside linebacker Micah Kiser belongs to a rare group of players. Kiser and former Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly are the only players to lead the ACC in tackles three years in a row. To be mentioned alongside a player with the talent of Kuechly, you must be doing something right. And Kiser is, the inside linebacker is a tackling machine, racking up over 400 tackles during his college career. Though they may not be on par for athleticism, Kiser is exceptionally smart in commanding in the middle of the field, always putting himself in the right position to make a play. While Kiser may not be the fastest or biggest playmaker on the field, he is consistent and that is always a valuable trait.

Kiser is not your typical aggressive linebacker who flies into the gap to make a stop in the backfield. The Virginia inside linebacker instead relies on his smarts to diagnosis and disrupt a play. By reading and reacting to the ball carrier rather than anticipating, Kiser always puts himself in position to make a play on the ball carrier – a huge reason why he led the ACC in tackles over the last three years. Kiser is not fooled by a ball carrier’s dance moves in the backfield, instead he waits for the ball carrier to declare their move before pursuing.

Athletically, Kiser will never be a sideline to sideline linebacker but with his IQ, he can mask this deficiency. Watch above how quickly Kiser reacts to the end around option and pursues across the field to make the tackle. With help from a few teammates, Kiser is able to wrap up the ball carrier near the sideline.

One of my favorite aspects about Kiser’s game is his ability to explode into the pocket and rush the passer. Here he is demonstrating an almost perfect stunt blitz, falling just milliseconds short of a sack. Kiser demonstrates great downhill burst and power as he pummels the Boise State quarterback. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that gets heavily creative with their inside linebacker stunts and Kiser certainly looks like a good fit in that regard. With 19 sacks in his college career, Kiser showed incredible success rushing through the A or B gap and wrecking havoc in the pocket.

Kiser was routinely asked to drop back into coverage for Virginia over the course of his college career and held his own in space. Watch above how Kiser quickly sniffs out the play action and drops back into coverage, and to no surprise he is in perfect position for where the pass is thrown. Once again this is another example of Kiser’s smarts and always being in position to make a play on the ball. Kiser may not be the most fluid or athletic player in coverage but he understands the game well. The Virginia linebacker diagnoses where ball is likely headed like a scientist doing calculations, only these calculations are being processed in a split second.

If there is one area of concern among Kiser’s tape is his tendency to occasionally get lost in the trenches. Due to his lack of aggressiveness, Kiser will not create many jaw dropping plays in the backfield, instead waiting on the play to come to him. This sometimes results in Kiser getting lost in the shuffle or being outmatched by a lineman coming full speed at him. That exact scenario happens on the play above as Kiser is washed upfield by a Miami lineman.

When it comes down to it, Kiser is neither a game changing linebacker nor a dud, his value falls somewhere in the middle. The Virginia linebacker is good enough to find a calling in the NFL and will likely find a home for many years due to his incredible tackling skills.

Projection: Late Day Two – Early Day Three

Games Watched: vs Boise State, vs Miami (2016), vs Indiana, vs Virginia Tech (2016)

Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Sam Darnold Garret Dooley Calvin Ridley Fred Warner Ronald Jones II
Maurice Hurst Mike McCray DeShon Elliott  Malik Jefferson Ogbo Okoronkwo
Trayvon Henderson Josh Rosen Ronnie Harrison Kallen Ballage Cedric Wilson Jr.
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