Man in the middle

Yesterday we examined ASU defensive end <!--Default NodeId For Terrell Suggs is 318755,2002--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:318755]>Terrell Suggs</A>, who the Bears are considering selecting fourth overall. Staying with the defensive line theme the team is also contemplating <!--Default NodeId For Penn State is 413,2005--><A HREF=>Penn State</A> defensive tackle <!--Default NodeId For Jimmy Kennedy is 328952,2002--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:328952]>Jimmy Kennedy</A>.

The Bears have two aged tackles in the center of their 4-3 defense, Ted Washington and Keith Traylor, and we might not see them on the when training camp breaks. Chicago needs to seriously consider an upgrade at that position because it lacks depth and has a fair amount of uncertainty.

Kennedy is built in the same mold as Keith Traylor and Ted Washington in that he is a big guy who can plug the hole easily. Watching him play is reminiscent of Keith Traylor in that he handles his size and how he moves about the field and makes plays.

Kennedy's size, 6'5"/330 pounds is perfect when compared to the average of other players at the defensive tackle position in the NFL. He has good balance to go along with a strong upper and lower body.

Kennedy possesses great leverage and that gives him what he needs to take on blockers. While at Penn State, Kennedy had no trouble taking on and overpowering offensive tackles, while the adjustment to the NFL won't be easy he should be able to make a relatively smooth transition. There is no doubt he'll be able to slow an opponents ground game.

As far as Kennedy's pass rushing skills go; he has an outstanding burst of the line with exceptional forward speed to get up the field quickly. He has shown in his ability to collapse the pocket in a few of last year's games and can do so when he has a full head of steam and is somewhat rested. Kennedy seems to be in tune with the opposing team's quarterback because he gets a good jump on the opposing player and is in the backfield seemingly right away.

One of the knocks on Kennedy, first and foremost, has been that he has a problem controlling his weight. In 1999 he came to the team weighing 400 pounds. Since then, he has gotten himself into shape and maintained a weight that is good enough to make him a starter in the NFL. He just has to maintain his shape or else he will hit the bench in a hurry. Overall conditioning is also a question. In the latter part of, he looked as if he was leaning on blockers and lacked the explosiveness he showed at the start of the contest.

Another problem that Kennedy has is that he has some difficulty recognizing whether a play is going to be a run or a pass. Sometimes he gets confused and takes himself out of the play when his guess comes up short. He will have a fresh start with a new NFL team and will have to learn an even more complicated system.

Kennedy needs to work on his technique for shedding blockers. He might be able to overpower most offensive linemen in the college game, but he might have a tough time against some NFL linemen.

Kennedy will require a little of fine tuning when he comes in to the NFL but with those tweaks, he's an instant impact player that has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler.

In the next installment we'll compare Terrell Suggs and Jimmy Kennedy side by side and figure out which player would be the best bet for the Chicago Bears.

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