2013 NFL Draft: Nick Kasa Scouting Report
In an incredibly deep class of tight ends, Colorado’s Nick Kasa has gone relatively unnoticed by all but the most earnest students of the draft (and Buffaloes' fans). The big senior has only one season of experience at the position, but his upside and surprising athleticism will earn him a draft spot north of several more experienced tight ends.
At 6’6” and 270 pounds, Kasa was converted from defensive end at the end of his junior year. He only played one game at tight end, catching a single pass for eight yards. He spent his entire senior year there, primarily as an inline tight end who occasionally lined up in the slot. He didn’t have eye-popping numbers (20 receptions for 340 yards and three touchdowns), but his skill as a blocker--coupled with his tenacity and his athletic upside as a receiver--will have NFL teams seriously intrigued at his potential.
Blocking: As a former defensive lineman, he approaches his blocking one step ahead of most tight ends. He understands what defensive lineman want to do, and he possesses the strength and balance to wall them off and manipulate them at the point of attack. He has strong, powerful hands, and he maintains a solid base in pass protection. As a run-blocker, he sealed defenders off well, but he didn’t always prioritize well between multiple blocking assignments, and tended to latch on to a single defender while allowing others past him. With some quality NFL coaching and more experience, though, he should be a top-notch blocking tight end, at the very least.
Athleticism: For a 6’6”, 270-pound man, he moves surprisingly well. His long touchdown reception against Washington State was a prime example of his sneaky speed up the seam, as he got behind the linebacker and pulled away from the safety en route to a 70-yard score. He’s quick out of his stance, and fights aggressively through tacklers, never settling for the yards he’s gained. As a receiver, he was used primarily inline as a first-down target in short-yardage situations, and out of the slot as a vertical threat up the seam.
Experience: His rawness at the position is evident, particularly in his pass-catching. He’s not the most natural ball-catcher at this point, often catching it with his chestplate, and sometimes fighting it into his own body. His routes look a little wooden. He runs to a predetermined spot rather than to the soft spot the defense’s zone allows. He shows an understanding of setting up defenders with head fakes and delaying and accelerating, but sometimes it’s a little too obvious he’s trying to sell a fake.
Health: He was often nicked up throughout his college career, and missed one game because of concussion-like symptoms. He also tweaked his hamstring while running the forty-yard dash at the Combine, and had to sit out the rest of the workouts. He hasn’t earned a “fragile” sticker yet, but he’ll need to prove he can withstand the physicality of the position, particularly given his own physicality.
His athletic upside and tenacious on-field personality will have him pretty high on several teams’ boards, especially those who prefer raw potential over experience with a ceiling. His speed and aggressiveness will earn him a role as a special teams player, and his blocking will earn him a roster spot as a tight end.
If he’s given a few years to mature within an NFL system, he could prove a major matchup headache for opposing defenses. He probably won’t ever be as dynamic of a receiver or as savage of a blocker as Rob Gronkowski, but he could have a ceiling like Zach Miller (who is himself incredibly underrated) as a blocking inline tight end who can stretch the field up the seam. He’ll probably hear his name called early on the third day of the draft.