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Lunch Links Has No Football Character

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An interesting piece on George Kittle, Nate Stanley is staying at Iowa and more

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

It’s a slow period with a long wrestling break, basketball schedule cupcakery and the period before the bowl game. So when I read this article ($) Monday morning, I figured we should talk about it!

First of all, if you don’t have an Athletic subscription, get one. They’re running a holiday special where you can gain access to it for like 48 cents a month for the next 87 months. Second of all, the article in question is titled “Why 49ers Tight End George Kittle went in the fifth round and what scouts think about him now” and it includes three really, really, interesting quotes from two NFL scouts about grading Kittle, and the Iowa program in general.

First, the reporter, John MiddleKauff asks an anonymous NFL Scout why Kittle lasted until pick 146 in the 2016 NFL draft. The scout’s answer?

“He didn’t fall, he was over-drafted. Just an average player at Iowa, and they (the coaches) crushed his football character at the school,” said a scout who was assigned to study him.

CRUSHED HIS FOOTBALL CHARACTER. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.

And there’s more:

When he says football character, he is talking about attributes like his love of football and other elements within the program — working out, easy to coach, etc. Kittle wasn’t a guy who was all in, something NFL teams really value.

“I was way too low on him,” said another NFL executive who did a scouting visit at Iowa. “But Iowa didn’t exactly sell him as a legit dude.”

When I asked if he dinged him for football character his response was kind of funny.

“Yes, but it’s Iowa. Bad football character there is good football character in the SEC.”

This is why scouting is so difficult. It’s not black and white. Iowa is run by an old school throwback in Kirk Ferentz. He likes overachievers. That’s the underlining theme of the program: working hard, being all in, loving football to the deepest core of your bones.

I have an absolutely IMPOSSIBLE time believe Kittle wasn’t “ALL IN” on Iowa football, and football in general during his time in Iowa City. A time that overlapped, y’know, a 12-0 regular season, Big Ten Title game appearance and Rose Bowl berth.

The article seeks to answer why Kittle dropped so far in the draft. It doesn’t find one really, outside of luck—Kittle is somewhat lucky to be clearly the most dangerous receiving weapon on a team that’s on its third string quarterback. But really, I think the answer is as simple as why you find busts and sleepers in every single draft: no one in the NFL knows a goddam thing.

There is one more nugget in that piece, from another anonymous scout:

“The two tight ends Iowa have right now are both better prospects at the same stage than Kittle was during his entire tenure at the program,” said a scout who has evaluated Iowa this season.

SO is that some fodder for Hockenson now?!?


I mostly just wanted to talk about that Kittle story, but there’s some other media nuggets from the past few days worth mentioning: