Ravens Add Standout DE Kruger to Defense


The Ravens know they got a good football player when they selected Utah's Paul Kruger.

Now, it's just a matter of finding a place for him to play.

Kruger, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, is another one of those "tweener" prospects that seem to develop so well in Baltimore.

The Ravens' history is rich with such talents, such as Peter Boulware, Adalius Thomas, Terrell Suggs and most recently, Jameel McClain.

Kruger could fit that bill.

"He is a hybrid," said general manager Ozzie Newsome. "Our front seven is where we've had success with guys who have the potential to play with their hand in the dirt and play up on their feet. So he fits our mold of a player. At some point we'll find a home for him. It's a little bit easier for us to pick players in the front seven of the defense because of the flexibility of the defense."

Kruger was listed as a "Red Star" player, someone that gets a unanimious vote of confidence from the entire personnel department.

As a defensive end, Kruger was certainly productive in only two years at Utah.

Originally recruited as a quarterback in 2004, Kruger took a two-year LDS Church mission before rejoining the team in 2007. At that point, he switched to the other side of the football, immediately making an impact with 63 tackles and three sacks.

He earned All-Mountain West Conference honors as a sophomore, totaling 61 stops and 7.5 sacks.

But his seven pass deflections and one interception from dropping into coverage show Kruger's versatility.

"There are a lot of things that I think I bring to the table – a lot of energy and a lot of heart," Kruger said in a conference call with Baltimore media. "I'm a guy who loves to play with emotion, and so one of the major things that I think I can contribute is a lot of effort, a lot of intensity. And along with that, I feel like I'm talented and strong, and I have all the physical attributes as well."

That heart was one of the biggest things that attracted the Ravens to Kruger.

"He is going to fit into our locker room, he's going to fit into our defense," head coach John Harbaugh said. "Our defensive coaches can't wait to get started with him. He's going to be a pass rusher for sure. He might be a SAM linebacker, he might be a rush backer, we'll just have to see once he gets on the field.

"He's a really good football player."

Kruger will simply have to wait until minicamps begin to see exactly where he fits in, however, whether that is at outside linebacker or defensive end in the Ravens' hybrid defense.

As of Saturday evening, Kruger is projected to be more of a down lineman, gaining weight to eventually supplant veteran Trevor Pryce.

"He's got a tall frame," said Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta. "He's about 6-4, 265 pounds, and we'd like to see him somewhere around 285 and be a left defensive end. But the thing is, he has dropped [into coverage]. He can do that. He can play in a two-point stance."

Kruger has overcome incredible odds to get to where he is.

When he was 13 years old, he lost a kidney when a car he was riding in flipped over and landed on him. One year ago, he was the victim of a brutal stabbing from gang members at a party that collapsed a lung.

Kruger believes his experiences only make him stronger, and the Ravens are confident that there are no lingering affects.

"Our doctors had a comfort level with him," Newsome remarked. "There have been many players that have played with one kidney. We've got the best trainers in the NFL and they have a comfort level with him. So for us it's not really an issue.

"He can play with it, and he's going to be a good player for us."

Newsome also admitted that several other teams were attempting to coerce him to trade the 57th-overall pick for more selections on Sunday.

To the Ravens, Kruger was worth having only three second-day picks - after trading their fifth-rounder to the New England Patriots in order to move up in Round 1 and grab tackle Michael Oher.

No matter the amount of picks, Newsome is convinced he can still improve the team.

"We were very close to having probably five or six picks tomorrow," said Newsome. "There's no doubt by the time it starts tomorrow, 10 o'clock, the phone will be ringing and someone will want our 88th pick, and some other stuff will be going on.

"Whether we have three picks tomorrow, or six picks, or we only pick two players, we will add two good players or three good players or four good players to our football team tomorrow."

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