Based on my irrational love for all things Boston College (I love Flutie Flakes – they just taste better), here is an update for Mathias Kiwanuka, outstanding DE for the Boston College Eagles from 2002-2006.
This is from ESPN’s Len Pasquerelli here (Insider subscription required):
“Although Mathias Kiwanuka continues to have a few rough spots in his transition, the New York Giants are sticking to their plan to move the defensive end to strongside linebacker for this season. The team’s first-round pick in 2006, Kiwanuka had four sacks as a rookie, and demonstrated natural pass-rush skills. But starting ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora are healthy, New York has good depth at the position, and the coaches want to get their best athletes on the field. They believe Kiwanuka is one of their best 11 defenders and that he possesses enough reverse-movement skills to be a solid strongside ‘backer. ”
I find Kiwanuka’s move from DE to LB to be interesting as both a fan of Kiwanuka – from Indianapolis – and of the progression of the NFL in general. I think this move will help prolong his career as he had injury-problems during college and I believe the wear and tear of DE would have diminished his career by one or two years. There is no doubt that Kiwi has the speed to be an impact LB as talent evaluators always classified him as a quick DE, but lacking in bulk for the position.
For the NFL, the move is another indication of the blurring of positional lines. As the NFL draws more generally talented athletes and GMs are pushed to maximize their rosters and draft picks, I think you will see more of this positional creativity on team’s rosters in order to “get their best athletes on the field.”