The Rams have claimed linebacker Bryan Kehl off waivers from the Giants. This may mean Chris Chamberlain is heading to the IR after all. Update: Another reason for acquiring Kehl: Josh Hull reportedly suffered a “major” MCL injury during special teams practice today. (ED note: Hull is now on IR to make room for Kehl).
Kehl, 6?2? 237, is in his third season out of BYU and was drafted in the 4th round in 2008. Scouts Inc. grades him as a good backup with a nice combination of size and athletic ability. Solid tackler, hard hitter with sneaky-good speed and good range. Still more of an athletic prospect than a polished linebacker at this point. Needs work on taking on lead blocks and using his hands to keep blockers off his lower body. Other flaws are that he gets lost in traffic and gets too aggressive at times and overruns plays. More comfortable on the weak side. Quick and agile in pass coverage and takes smooth drops, but also loses focus at times and allows plays.
GiantsFootballBlog calls Kehl a better fit in the NFL as a 3-4 OLB, which is what he was in college. GFB readers point out the team’s poor kick coverage and Kehl whiffing on a block that allowed a punt to be blocked Sunday against Carolina as reasons he could have been cut. On the other hand, he led the Giants in special teams tackles last year with 16 and had 3 against the Panthers. The cut seems to have surprised the majority of Giants fans; he’s a well-liked player and they consider him one of their best special teams players. He may have been cut just because the Giants have serious injury issues at tight end and had to make a roster move.
Kehl was a mechanical engineering major at BYU, a two-time academic all-conference LB and a first-team all-conference player his senior season. His BYU Pro Day stats: 4.56 40, 4.18 short shuttle, 6.54 3-cone, 35? vertical, 10?2? broad, 26 bench presses. That would have been the 2nd-fastest 40 by a LB at this year’s Combine. His numbers compare favorably to 2010 late 2nd-round pick Pat Angerer or late 3rd-round pick Navarro Bowman. He can bench 430, so he’s strong, but he has had to work to be a more physical player after playing too passively as a rookie.
Kehl’s a high-character player with some ability, and this move could pan out better than anybody would ever guess, but for now, it’s mainly a treading-water move to try to replace Chamberlain’s special-teams productivity. I don’t expect Kehl to be much of a contributor outside of special teams, but won’t be surprised to see him in the long-term picture at LB. That makes this a better-than-average move, but not one that moves the needle a lot.
Fun fact: As you might guess from that alma mater, Bryan is a Mormon. Other Mormons who have played for the Rams include Kevin Curtis, Brandon Manumaleuna, Merlin Olsen, of course, and, much to my surprise, Kyle Turley.