Now we are getting into the part of the 49ers draft where the information on some players is not as abundant. After all, Kilgore went to Appalachian State; I am pretty sure not many of their games were on TV. That said, he was on the team that upset the Michigan Wolverines, in one of the most shocking college football games in recent memory.
Today, I am going to focus on a couple different scouting reports in regards to Daniel Kilgore and attempt to put it together in terms of how he projects at the next level. Keep in mind that just because Kilgore didn't play against top level competition in college, it doesn't mean that he cannot make a successful transition to the NFL.
Strengths: Extremely competitive, does whatever it takes to get the job done. Blocks through the whistle, and sometimes afterwards. Good enough footwork to get correct run blocking angle on defender. Plays with good leverage, staying low and extending arms to effectively anchor. Resets hands and keeps feet moving after initial contact to sustain. Does not get beat off the edge very often from two-point stance, adept at taking quicker linemen around the pocket.
Weaknesses: Short arms and average lateral mobility make it difficult for him to stay at tackle at the next level. Limited athlete who relies on grabbing and attitude to open up running holes. Fails to adjust to inside target, misses cut blocks at the second level due to a lack of flexibility. Does not explode from his stance in pass protection. Adequate strength to anchor, but must prove he can move or turn pro defensive tackles.
It is important that an interior offense linemen, where Kilgore will be playing in the NFL, possess the ability to stay low to the ground when blocking. There are several reasons for this: first, it allows him to keep leverage when going up against opposing defensive tackles, secondly he will rarely be pushed back at the POC (point of contact). Finally, he will be able to open up running lanes and holes for backs.
Kilgore has this ability and more. Whether he plays center or guard at the next level, this ability will come in handy.
Kilgore is a developmental guard prospect who still needs a lot of work with his technique but has upside. Possesses the fierce mentality that coaches covet and flashes some impressive hand and lower-body power. However, has a tendency to play too high, leans and lunges, and stops moving feet after contact. Also lacks the athleticism to stick with polished interior pass rushers who bring some speed, power and counter moves to the table. Recognition skills and overall awareness need to be coached up. Kilgore's flaws appear to be correctable, and he could hear his named called on Day 3.
"developmental guard prospect"? What does that mean? Aren't all offensive linemen that aren't drafted in the first two rounds "developmental"? Not everyone is going to be a Maurkice Pouncey or Mike Iupati. It is true that it take Kilgore some time to transition to the NFL, but that is usually the case with most offensive line prospects. This report contradicts the previous report and says "has a tendency to play too high", so these people must be looking at two completely different players.
Just watching a little game tape on Kilgore has given me the ability to somewhat understand how he plays the game. First, I don't see how he plays low at all. What I noticed in the games is that he bull rushes opposing defenders and gets them away from the play. This could obviously have some consequences because it means that Kilgore whiffs on certain blocks, leaving the defender wide open to go after the quarterback.
Analysis/Putting It All Together
I think that Kilgore projects real well as a center in the near future. The fact that he has a smaller wingspan does limit his ability to play guard, so he is strictly a center prospect in my opinion. That said, the 49ers needed to find a center for the future and probably got one in Kilgore. David Baas is set to be a free agent (restricted or unrestricted), depending on the rules, and Eric Heitmann has had injury concerns in the past.
Right now, the 49ers have three anchors a long the offensive line in Joe Staley, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. Adding another interior linemen will help this group mesh in the coming years.
Daniel Kilgore isn't the most athletic individual, but you will not see anyone play harder. He is extremely passionate about the game of football and that shows on the field. I love the way he opens up running lanes in the middle of the field. There is something to be said about the fact that Appalachian State had the following stats. They ranked 7th in the nation in scoring (34.7), 8th in rushing at 217 yards per game, and 10th in total offense with 431 yards per game. No matter the conference you are playing in, those are stunning numbers. Adding to this is the fact that Kilgore was their best offensive linemen, an all-conference player and anchored the line.
Will Kilgore be an all-pro in the NFL? Probably not. But, he will bring another level of toughness to a drastically improved San Francisco 49ers offensive line.