Coach's Take on OT Brandon Keith

Dusty Wittig catches up with the Cardinal's seventh-round draft pick's former college coach. Northern Iowa offensive line coach Rick Nelson speaks to Wittig about Brandon Keith's strengths, weaknesses, his off the field personality and much more in this exclusive.

Dusty Wittig: In your words, what kind of player is Brandon Keith?

Rick Nelson: He is very explosive and an exceptional athlete, especially for as big of a kid as he is. Brandon has tremendous upper-body strength and is very powerful. I think he benched 225 lbs 31 times at the Combine. He maxes out at close to 500 lbs. He has very long arms and is a pretty strong kid.

DW: What is the best part about Brandon's game?

RN: Probably just his athletic ability. I have worked really hard with him on his footwork and technique and he has gotten much better. At our level he was able to get away with a lot of stuff footwork wise, that other kids couldn't get away with because of his athleticism enabled him to make up for it.

DW: What is something that Brandon needs to work on in order to make the 2008 Cardinals roster?

RN: I would think that he has to make sure the steps are right on every time. Obviously he is going to be playing against much better people. He needs to continue to work on his hip flexibility and has been in yoga for that. Those two things I think will be key for him.

DW: What kind of guy is Brandon off of the field?

RN: He is from a small town in Oklahoma and just a pleasure to be around. He is a great kid and has a good personality. If you had the chance to meet him, you would enjoy him. He is just a neat kid that we will miss having around here.

DW: How would you describe Brandon's leadership skills?

RN: We had four kids that were in Brandon's class that had been here five years with us. Brandon transferred from Oklahoma and we only had him for two years. Because of that he had to step back into the shadows a little bit. I think he would have been a great leader. However, because he transferred into our program and lacked the seniority he didn't get a chance to really step up as one.

DW: What is your favorite memory about Brandon?

RN: Two memories really jump out in my head. Every time that we scored, I loved to watch Brandon shoot his long arms up into the air. If they pan out you can see him running down the field holding his arms up. That's when I asked him which music group he would listen too for the rest of his life if he could only choose one, and he answered Metallica.

DW: Is there anything else you would like to say about Brandon?

RN: I have been coaching for 24 years now, and often times you get kids that you really enjoy and hate to see them leave your program. Brandon was one of those kids. I'm really proud of him for being drafted and also graduating college. He transferred here from a big school and never said two words about playing there. He is humble and a true teammate.

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