Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: LB A.J. Klein
A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
6-1″, 250 pounds
Hometown: Kimberly, WI
40yd dash: 4.66
Bench: 20 reps
Long Jump: 9’5″
(injured his knee in pass coverage drills)
Pro Day: (still favoring his knee)
Vertical jump: 33″
Short Shuttle 4.35
3-cone drill: 7.09
News and Notes:
Klein was an All-State pick from Kimberly, Wisconsin, having led his team to two straight State Championships. After not receiving an offer from the Badgers, Klein chose Iowa State over Northern Illinois. Klein played special teams as a true freshman and and then was a three-year starter at linebacker. Klein showed uncanny consistency, finishing with 111, 117 & 117 tackles in those three seasons. Klein also returned four interceptions for TDs in his college career, tying an FBS record. Klein was named All-Big 12 in 2012 and the co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
What they’re saying about him:
CBSSports.com: “Excellent key and diagnosis skills. Reads the action and gets a jump-start, often beating blockers to the ball. Better than advertised speed to the flanks and in pursuit downfield and is a quick accelerator, able to slip through gaps to make plays at the line of scrimmage.” “…Could be viewed by some as a bit of a ‘tweener as he lacks ideal athleticism for the outside and does not take on and shed blocks as well as preferred to remain inside. Usually has to give ground to release from blocks once his opponents get their hands into his chest.”
NEPatriotsdraft.com: “Klein is an intense competitor on the football field and is the type of player that every NFL head coach would want on his team. He is a leader on and off the field and has a work ethic that is infectious. On the field, Klein makes up for his less than elite athleticism with impeccable instincts. He plays within the defense, but is dead set on making every tackle of the game. He shouldn’t have to come off the field in the NFL if a team wants to play zone, although he may struggle playing man at the next level. His skill-set translates well to special teams as well, so he could be that rare 4-down linebacker that the NFL covets.”
Video: (Klein is # 47)
I chose the Shrine game to see how he does playing against top competition.
Seems to have overcome the “not a good athlete” tag he had early in his career.
Not a threat as a pass rusher, as his 3 career sacks would seem to confirm.
Locates the ball in a crowd and closes quickly on the ball carrier.
Seems able to pursue sideline to sideline.
Good positioning in zone coverage – reads the quarterback’s eyes.
Contrary to what some scouting reports have said, looks good in man-to-man coverage.
If drafted by the Packers:
Klein has been worked out three times by the Packers. From day one, he would be a major special teams contributor. Fast, aggressive and instinctual, I would expect Klein to be top-5 in special teams tackles on the Packers.
As a linebacker, Klein would be a welcome addition to a LB group that doesn’t have many guys who can cover. I have some concerns about his size, and it would surely take a year or two of bulking up before he’s ready to be a three down starter. But in the meantime, Dom Capers would have a situational linebacker capable of covering tight ends, taking some pressure off the Packers’ safeties. Klein is one of my five sleepers in this draft that isn’t a boom or bust guy (there are plenty of those). He’s intelligent, a leader and has never been in trouble – right up the Packers’ alley.
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.