I got in touch with several writers on the college football blogs. I wanted to get their thoughts on the Redskins newest draft picks and ask a few more revealing questions about how these players fit on the team and their chances of making an impact either immediately or down the line. Kullen Logsdon of Maize n Brew gave us some great information regarding UDFA OG and new Redskin Kyle Kalis.
Cadillactica: Could you give us your impression of what the Michigan coaches thought of Kalis?
Kullen Logsdon: To my knowledge, Kalis took coaching very well and was a leader on the offensive line. He has a unique background, being a five-star high school prospect from Ohio who flipped from the Buckeyes to Michigan to play for Brady Hoke. However, Hoke and his staff's coaching really hurt the development of the lineman and it took a miracle from the Harbaugh staff to turn it around. Kalis grew a lot as a player the past two seasons and became an efficient guard.
Cadillactica: Could you expand upon how his development was affected with the coach before Harbaugh?
Kullen Logsdon: Sure. Brady Hoke, while a great guy, was not the brightest coach and his staff was often behind the curve. You would see in games against Michigan State and Ohio State how lost the offensive line was mentally and technique wise. When Harbaugh got there, there were reports that he and new OL coach Tim Drevno showed signs of extreme frustration with how bad the group was. However, the group and Kalis especially made huge strides in the last two seasons.
Cadillactica: I first noticed Kalis when writing a draft profile on his teammate Erik Magnuson could you give us a clearer picture of his playing style and attitude? Since the Redskins hired OL coach Bill Callahan the OL unit has been trying to rebrand itself as the Hogs 2.0. This means the unit is getting back to its old Hog glory days and is playing consistent tough power football. Do you think Kalis fits in a power scheme?
Kullen Logsdon: Kalis has always seemed like a quiet guy off the field, but he is a tough SOB on it. He plays angry and wants to destroy the guy across from him on every play. Whenever the Wolverines would score a touchdown, he was the first lineman, in the end zone celebrating with them, so he is a team player as well. As far as his style goes, he needs work in opening holes in the running game, but it strong when it comes to pass protection. He needs to add more speed to his game, but he is very strong and very determined. He definitely fits more into a power scheme because he lacks the quickness for a zone blocking scheme. He has the attitude of a prototypical Redskins' lineman and it seems like a perfect fit for him.
Cadillactica: Obviously, as an UDFA Kalis has an uphill battle to make the team. The Redskins have a top unit already with Trent Williams, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, and Morgan Moses but there is a weakness at LG. Shawn Lauvao is the presumed starter there but he is the obvious weak link on the line. Most fans had hoped 2015 4th Round pick Arie Kuandijo would step up and take over but that has not panned out yet either. Do you think Kalis has a shot of really impressing coaches in training camp to warrant consideration as a starting guard? If that's too rich do you think Kalis has a chance to beat out other competition and claim a reserve spot?
Kullen Logsdon: I don't see any way he claims a starting job for the Redskins, unfortunately. He will be a project at the next level, but I think he can win a backup spot. Like I said, he has a great attitude and work ethic, but his mechanics need work at the next level.
Cadillactica: What would describe as his biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Kullen Logsdon: Kalis' shows good balance and has a strong lower base which is tough to move. He also appears to never blow an assignment and takes to coaching well -- as previously stated. However, he cannot play in space at all and doesn't move very well.
Cadillactica: Could you sum up his play in a single word or phrase?
Kullen Logsdon: Gritty! He's an animal and works his tail off.
If the Redskins are going to carry 5 reserve linemen (which rarely happens) I think Kalis has a shot to make the final 43. Last year the team carried four reserves at the start of the season: Arie Kouandijo, Ty Nsekhe, Austin Reiter, and Kory Lichtenstiger* (* = kinda). The unit obvious got some new names during the season but this offseason it looks like Kalis will be in direct competition not only with fellow UDFA guard Tyler Catalina out of Georgia but he may also be going up against other linemen like Isaiah Williams.
What makes this an extra difficult battle for Kalis is that in the past the team has focused primarily on the tackle position for their depth and has only kept one or two guard/center players. This could also mean that Kalis goes up against Arie Kouandijo and even Chase Roullier the Redskins 6th rounder for a spot. If Kalis is a pure guard and offers no position versatility like Roullier does then I think he will really have to impress the coaches with his ability to learn and adjust quickly to and perform in a power running scheme. I really like him as an UDFA and was encouraged by what Kullen said about him regarding his improvement once he was around better coaches.
A big thanks to Kullen for taking the time to answer my questions. We'll see if he can make the cut!