Name: Kyle Eckel Pos: FB
Draft Status: UDFA-2005 Date acquired: 9/4/2007
Why was he released?
Alain Poupart: I wish I could give you a long, elaborate answer here, but it's rather simple: Kyle Eckel just might not be NFL-caliber. He was one of three fullbacks on the roster in camp, along with veteran Cory Schlesinger and rookie sixth-round pick Reagan Mauia, who ended up being the only fullback kept, and at no point was there any realistic thought that Eckel would stick.
AP: We never got to see Eckel play all that much in the preseason, but from the observations made in training camp and the like, he doesn't seem to have a particular strength. He obviously had success running the ball at Navy, but we never saw those running skills in Miami, either last year or this summer. As for weaknesses, the biggest one seems to be that he's awfully small to be an NFL fullback and he doesn't have any outstanding quality to be able to overcome that.
How can he help?
AP: The most accurate question would be: Can he help? To be quite honest, it looks like Eckel is headed for a short career or one where he'll bounce from team to team. Again, the major issue with him is there's just nothing about him that stands out. Can he make a team's roster? Maybe, but unless his game significantly improves at some point (and it probably won't because it's not like he'll get significantly bigger) he'll always a bottom-of-the-roster kind of guy.
PI's Take: Poupart certainly knows football, and players who can make an impact on an NFL roster, yet we have our reservations about the discouraging prognosis of Eckel's long-term potential. The part which rings loudly with us is that Eckel isn't the most physically gifted blocker. He can get his nose in there, but his lack of size may be an issue that prevents him from succeeding at the next level. The Patriots have opted to use linebackers and defensive linemen to be the lead blocers at the goal line due to lack of size from their fullbacks. With that said, players don't have the type of success Eckel did at the Naval Academy and impress the Patriots enough to have two shots at making the roster via the practice squad if they don't have some level of long term potential. There's something about Eckel. He has, that same kind of "bottom-of-the-roster" makeup, which vaulted Joe Andruzzi to a ten-year career, Mike Vrabel to go from discarded linebacker to a key element in three World championships or enabled a player like Randall Gay to start in the Super Bowl as an undrafted rookie. It may not be enough to win Eckel a long-term career in the NFL, but it's a good bet he's willing to stick it out as long as Bill Belichick is willing to indulge his Navy connection with Eckel.
How He Fits: If Eckel can prove he belongs, and shows the type of promise we believe he has, he'll spend the season on the practice squad learning behind Heath Evans. Eckel's tenure on the practice squad is related to the departure of TE Garrett Mills who was signed by the Minnesota Vikings. The Patriots look for versatile blockers who can catch the ball out of the backfield or gain tough yards in short yardage situations. Eckel will need to improve his game, but has the chance to stick to the roster for the season as he learns the ropes. It's possible he gets a promotion if Evans is injured; otherwise Eckel will remain on the sidelines.
|Fullback Kyle Eckel #39 of the New England Patriots is stopped by the defense of the New York Giantsp (Photo by Jim McIsaac /Getty Images)|
Pre-Draft scouting report by TFY Draft Preview (April 2005)
Name: Kyle Eckel School: Navy Year: 4Sr
Ht: 5-10.5 Wt: 237 40: 4.88 Pos: FB
Bio: Three year starter who posted 211/1,062/11 as a senior after career numbers of 236/1,249/10 the prior year.
Positives: Hard working lead blocker with the ability to handle the ball. Quick out of his stance, explodes into blocks and effectively uses body positioning to seal defenders from the play. Plays faster than his forty time and creates space as a lead blocker. Gives top effort until the whistle blows.
Negatives: Marginal speed for the next level. Limited skills as a pass catcher.
Analysis: A tough as nails competitor, Eckel makes the most of his abilities yet has marginal upside for the next level. Could eventually develop into a solid blocker once he fills out his frame and improves his playing strength.
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins since 1985 and has been associate editor of Dolphin Digest since 1989. A native of Canada, Poupart has followed the Dolphins since their perfect season of 1972.