When the 2013 season started, not many people knew the name Kevin Pierre-Louis and many didn’t expect the big year that he ended up posting. Pierre-Louis, or better known as KPL, really was able to breakout during the 2013 season and prove himself as more than just a late round option at LB. KPL was able to turn into a legitimate mid round option at LB, who can prove to fit very well into one of the traditional cover two schemes. Below I’ll take a look at what KPL does well, and we he needs to improve on to become a starting caliber player in the NFL.
When evaluating LB prospects, I look hard at how well they play with technique, not only in the run game, but also how they play in pass coverage. First off, KPL does a good job, but needs to improve on his run defense. KPL will allow himself to get swallowed up by offensive linemen at times, and doesn’t play aggressive to disengage from blockers. At the same time, when he can play free in space, KPL shows the ability to be very successful due to his ability to use his speed to an advantage. When he can stay clean from blockers, KPL shows the ability to be a high-end player and someone who can be very successful in the NFL. Now watching KPL in pass coverage is quite different from him when he’s playing run defense. Due to his natural athleticism, Pierre-Louis is very good in his ability to play with proper pass defense technique, as well as his ability to engage the defender and be able to reroute him off his intended route. Pierre-Louis does an excellent job of trusting his instincts and playing to those abilities and in coverage it shows as he’s able to trust his instincts to make plays.
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As mentioned earlier, KPL does things well, but also shows a lot of errors due to his technique flaws, as well as his natural weight, which doesn’t allow for him to be able to just take on blocks consistently. As well KPL doesn’t do a very good job of attempting to engage oncoming blockers and make a move to get around them. It almost looks as if KPL doesn’t want to have anyone in front of him, so he could just get his plays and do so without much effort. It’s easy to see the difference in KPL when he’s able to play in space and free from others around him, and when he is playing in the “muck” of the field with everyone around him. With this in mind, look for teams to see KPL as someone who is a 4-3 only fit because of his ability to play zone coverage well, as well as his weight not being conducive to being a possible 3-4 candidate.
As I alluded to earlier, this is what makes KPL very intriguing to watch and project to what he could become in the NFL. For what KPL doesn’t do well in run defense, he does a very good job of recognizing zone’s and playing to those strengths. KPL also has the speed and size to play in man coverage and run with TE’s and slot WR’s. This comes back to the belief of KPL being a very good cover 2 scheme fit where he can use his instincts and zone coverage responsibilities to be very successful. What also is impressive about KPL is his ability to reroute offensive players and not allow them a free release to run their routes. In some respects it’s almost as if KPL is a safety type player who is playing LB in college. There will be some intrigue of him moving to Safety, but for now the best overall position for KPL is as a 4-3 WLB.
Kevin Pierre-Louis isn’t the household name, but he’s someone who gets the job done and provides a good deal of value for a position that is somewhat of a dying breed in the NFL. What KPL does well is what NFL teams now covet, and that’s the ability to cover anyone on the field as we continue to see TE’s get bigger and faster and slot WR’s become stronger and more athletic. Someone like Kevin Pierre-Louis would allow for a team to have a good fit on passing downs, and if they were a true 4-3 scheme, they have someone who can develop into a possible starting candidate. Look for a team with that 4-3 scheme to take Pierre-Louis somewhere in the 5th round range.