Kyle Peko, DL
College: Oregon State Beavers
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 305 Age: 23
40-Yard: 5.13 Bench: 31 (225 lbs)
Among the 22 undrafted rookies getting a chance to play for the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos is defensive tackle Kyle Peko. Peko is a 6-foot-1-inch, 305-pound interior defensive lineman, most recently with the Oregon State Beavers. If the last name Peko sounds familiar, you’ve been paying attention, as Kyle does have family in the NFL—cousins Domata and Tupe playing with Cincinnati and Atlanta, respectively.
Peko has a unique story in that he only played one year at Oregon State. Before joining on with the Beavers, Peko went the junior college route, playing at Cerritos Community College and starting for them from 2012 to 2014. When he finally did earn a scholarship with Oregon State, he ran into academic problems that kept him out of his junior season.
In his lone season in Corvallis, Peko was a defensive mainstay on a mediocre Beavers team. Starting all 12 games, the defensive tackle racked up 45 stops to go along with two sacks.
On top of his regular work on the defensive line, Peko also saw substantial playing time on the extra point and field goal blocks team, in which he was able to block one of each during the season. In making the most of his stay in college, Peko earned an all-Pac-12 Honorable mention selection.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1690279-broncos-2016-training-cam... All undrafted rookies have an uphill climb to catch on with a team at the NFL level and Peko is no exception. He does not have the ideal size you would like from a 3-4 defensive lineman, which was a major reason all teams passed up on him during the draft process. However, Denver, and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, look at their starting nose tackles a bit differently than other teams who run the same base 3-4.
Sylvester Williams is the returning starter at the nose tackle spot for the defending World Champions. It is hard to believe that a man listed at 313 pounds would be classified as “undersized,” but the scheme that Phillips utilizes asks for lineman at the point of attack to be more of a penetrator, rather than consume blocks, funneling ball carries to waiting linebackers. This will greatly help Peko in making the team.
Peko would also seem to be a better fit for the defense, as the players ahead of him may not be ideal fits for the nose tackle position as well. Phil Taylor was brought in as a reclamation project this season and Darius Kilgo has spent a season in a mostly backup role with the team.
Taylor does have some pedigree coming as a former first round pick of the Cleveland Browns. What works against Taylor is the fact that he is a monster at 335 pounds and may not have the lateral quickness or burst to be a good fit here in Denver, as was mentioned by on the Huddle Up Podcast (embedded below).
Kilgo was a late-round draft pick by the team last year and saw only spot duty. He is a slightly smaller version of Taylor, coming in at 319 pounds. In cases like Ronnie Hillman on offense and Kayvon Webster on defense, the front office seems willing to give plenty of chances to drafted players, so count on Kilgo getting looks with the second team, as well possible goal-line situational work. But also keep in mind the team brought in both Peko and another UDFA nose tackle in David Moala from Utah State.
Out of all the undrafted college free agents the team signed during the offseason, Peko has one of the best chances to stick with the team. At $11,000, Peko had the largest signing bonus of all the players signed, signaling that Denver was very keen on prying his service from division rival Kansas City Chiefs.
What Peko brings to the table is a non-stop motor that helps him in the run game plugging gaps, as well as in the pass game, and he is adept at not allowing bigger offensive lineman to get into his body.
In the video below (:14), watch Peko (No. 99), rush from the 3-technique (defensive tackle), shading to the left guard's outside shoulder before the snap.
At the snap, Peko slants inside, engaging the center and bull-rushes his way past him to pressure the quarterback. Peko's pad level is a little high on this play, but we see his power and motor to fight his way to the quarterback.
Peko is not a natural pass rusher and mostly relies on hustle to get tackles for loss and hits on the quarterback. Defensive line coach Bill Kollar can use that.
Kollar has had great success over the course of his decades-long NFL coaching career of taking guys with power and a high motor and molding them into impact players.
In league that is always looking for able-bodied defensive lineman, the best bet for Peko to make the Broncos final roster this year will be on the practice squad. While he does have some physical limitations, there are always places on a team for guys that show good instincts and motor like he does.
The best fit for Peko in the NFL and for Denver will be as a situational rotating tackle in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.
Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.
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