Position: Linebacker/Defensive End
Height / Weight: 6’4″ 265 lbs.
Age: 24 / Experience: 2
Analysis: Heading into the 2009 season Paul Kruger was billed as a gifted pass rusher and a player with a tremendous motor who wouldfit well into the Ravens schemes and also blend in with the team’s tough guy mindset. Unfortunately, Kruger only saw action in 9 games (including 1 start @Green Bay), and Ravens fans did not get to see if the scouting reports were accurate. Kruger did make one of the biggest plays of the Ravens season when he intercepted Pittsburgh Steelers back-up QB Dennis Dixon, a play which set up the game winnig FG for the Ravens in overtime. Not much was made of Kruger’s ability to drop back in coverage, but that is where he made his biggest impact, albeit on one play.
So why did Kruger not see the field more after being drafted in the 2nd round? Sure, Kruger was behind Terrell Suggs on the depth chart, but the Ravens seemed reluctant to use Kruger to spell Suggs or to bolster a low octane pass rush. Kruger did seem to lack the strength and moves to be a factor defending the run or rushing the passer. In my opinion that was the biggest reason why Kruger was a scratch in 7 games last year. There was also a lot of talk during training camp that Kruger was not, either, willing or able to play on special teams. Whatever the reason, this made Kruger less valuable on game day.
2010 Outlook: When the Ravens drafted Kruger out of Utah Eric DeCosta said that they envisioned him filling the role of a hybrid end/tackle, like Trevor Pryce in the Ravens 3-4. To do that he needs to add weight and get stronger. Again, there were rumors that Kruger was reluctant to do so in 2009. I have heard that Kruger looked bigger during the Ravens OTA’s, which is a good sign that he has embraced the Ravens vision for him. If Kruger can continue to add weight and strength he will have the opportunity to see the field more in the Ravens defensive line rotation. With Trevor Pryce aging and Corey Redding being the only other proven defensive end Kruger should see the field more, but his ability to make plays in that position is an unknown for the Ravens heading into the 2010 season. I hate to say that next season is a make or break year for Kruger, but he will show the Ravens whether or not he can be counted on as a future defensive lineman for the Ravens, or if he was a 2nd round reach.