FanPost

KJ Britt draft scouting report

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Long Wait is Over

The Chiefs smashed a 50 year Super Bowl drought by getting to the big game in back to back seasons. Making great inside linebacker draft picks isn't what got them to the Super Bowl. KC once had a great LB named Derrick Johnson, who was a 1st round pick in 2005. His final season with KC was in 2017. I made a list of the LBs the Chiefs drafted since 2011.

Ramik Wilson (4th round 2015.) He played for the Rams in 2018. KC drafted him one slot before Andrew Donnal. Seldom used on defense as a rookie, Wilson was waived prior to the start of his 2nd season. He was beaten out on the depth chart by an UDFA who also was from the 2015 draft. Instead of keeping Wilson as the backup, the Chiefs claimed a former 7th round player off waivers from another team, bumping Wilson to the practice squad. Early in the season, the UDFA who beat out Wilson got injured. The Chiefs elevated Wilson from the PS and he started the rest of the year, playing pretty well.

Optimistic Chiefs fans hoped that Wilson would carry that momentum into his 3rd NFL season. He began the year as the starter, even though KC had traded for Reggie Ragland in the preseason. Once Ragland learned the playbook, Wilson lost the starting role and was taken out of the rotation. For most of the season he was inactive or didn't play at all. After the season, the Chiefs decided not to tender him, allowing him to become an UFA, which is how he got picked up by the Rams.

Reggie Ragland wasn't drafted by KC, but they used a 4th round pick to acquire him via trade. After a decent start in his first season, Ragland slumped and played poorly. By 2019 he was no longer a starter for the Chiefs and they did not retain him for 2020.

Dorian O'Daniel (3rd round 2018.) He's a good special teams player. But, is a ST player and backup worth a 3rd round pick?

DJ Alexander (5th round 2015.) Taken a round after Wilson. He made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player his 2nd season. KC then traded him to Seattle for another LB. The trade didn't work out well for either team.

Gabe Miller (5th round 2011.) Never made the roster.

Nico Johnson (4th round 2013.) Alabama player. Hardly played any snaps as a rookie. Signed by another team off of KC's practice squad early in his 2nd season.

Ukeme Eligne (5th round 2017.) Few snaps as a rookie. Was waived before the start of his 2nd season.

Willie Gay (2nd round 2020.) Too early to tell. Chiefs used him almost exclusively as a run defender in base defense against multiple TE formations. Not trusted to defend the pass. A sub package defender, playing a limited percentage of snaps.

The starters at ILB last season for the Chiefs were Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. Hitchens was signed as a free agent in 2018 on a $9 million per year contract. PFF lists his grades in his 3 seasons with KC as 39.8, 48.8 and 50.6. Not a home run FA signing.

Damien Wilson was drafted by Dallas very close to where Ramik Wilson was picked. The Chiefs signed him to a cheap FA contract in 2019. Like Hitchens, Wilson had mediocre PFF grades the last 2 years. He was graded at 51.8 in 2020, about the same as Hitchens. The starters keeping Willie Gay on the bench weren't Pro Bowlers.

I don't know how you want to interpret KC's linebacker situation. On one hand, it shows that a team can be a Super Bowl team without having top ILBs. It also illustrates how trying to plug a roster hole with middle round picks can sometimes lead to a revolving door of futility, with none of the players proving to be long term solutions. On the other hand, the team that beat them, the Bucs, probably have the best LBs in the NFL. Are linebackers important or not important?

Background

6 feet tall, 239 pounds, 76'' wingspan, 30.75'' arms, 9 3/8'' hands (Senior Bowl measurements)

ESPN 125th overall, 10th ILB (4th round)

PFF 173rd overall (5th round)

Sports Illustrated (5th round)

Drafttek 140th overall (late 4th round)

Lance Zierlein 5.49 draft grade. Compared to Antonio Morrison (4th round in 2016, Colts.) LZ gave him a similar grade as Shaq Quarterman, who was 4th round pick last year.

LZ says Britt is ultra-aggressive, a throwback LB with a muscled frame, plays downhill and a heavy hitter. He doesn't like Britt's tight hips, lack of range, and poor pass coverage, including his inability to cover RBs man to man.

At Senior Bowl, Britt was voted as the top LB for the American Team (vote by the opposing OL and RBs on the other squad.) Among the LBs Britt beat out for that honor were Jabril Cox, Monty Rice, Paddy Fisher and Grant Stuard.

Pro Football Network wasn't impressed by Britt during Senior Bowl week. They said he was inconsistent, took poor tackling angles, and dropped balls in catching drills. They said he had raw, upside potential due to having short range athleticism.

True Senior. Team captain in 2020. Only played 2 games last season, because he tore ligaments in his right thumb.

2019 was his first season as a starter. 4 star recruit. Nicknamed "Downhill Britt" at Auburn due to his attacking play style.

In 15 games from 2019 through 2020, had 92 tackles (46 solo), 11 TFL, 2.5 sacks, PD, FF. Zero career INTs, 2 PD, one FF.

Strengths

Can avoid or shed some blocks. Jump cuts to side to get around OT and G blocks. Uses violent hands to swipe away blocks at 2nd level. Steps forward to get past combo block. Bursts by C trying to attack screen pass. Physical, aggressive and powerful taking on blocks.

Sticks RBs and stones them when he's clean or when he can avoid the blocker. Heavy, physical tackler.

Plays with aggressive, combative and physical mindset. Got in face of OL, jawing with opponent after play.

Can lay big hits on RB in short yardage situations when he isn't blocked.

Fires downhill and obliterates blocking TE one play.

Built like a tank. Short, squatty, muscular frame.

Nickname is appropriate. Intent on firing downhill, trying to attack the LOS.

Finished game after he got injured in 2020.

Weaknesses

Average Athlete

Too slow. Insufficient pursuit speed to the sideline. Has to adjust pursuit angles midstream, because he discovers that his initial vector is off when he realizes the RB is too fast and he can't get to them.

Has to run so hard to get out wide that when the RB cuts back inside, he has very little chance of adjusting. Easy to juke and make him fly by.

Poor change of direction. Limited tackling range. Runners need to be in a narrow cone in front of him for him to hit. Unable to redirect to RB. Can't go sideways in small spaces to adjust to jukes and cuts.

Misses tackles in space, because he can't change direction. Misses tackles in the hole.

Poor vs Pass

Labored movement trying to run out to cover RBs in flat. Not enough speed.

Very basic head fake by RB. Britt gets hunched over, his head way over his toes, leans the wrong way, then is left desperately grasping air when the RB breaks to the outside, unable to recover.

Once he recognizes pass or if he has to adjust as zone defender, he's slow to transition and change directions from going forward to pedal backwards to get depth.

Ran right into the rub. No awareness to it.

Runs Red Lights

Poor awareness. Badly burned by play action, doesn't read keys as TE runs right by him and is wide open. Steps forward on play action and just grabs RB on route, because he's about to be badly beaten in coverage.

Runs 4 steps forward against play action, making him late to get to flat to cover pass, then doesn't have any makeup speed to erase his mistake.

Down and distance and keys from OL and QB scream a draw or a screen. He steps backwards 4 yards, thinking it is pass, making him late to react to draw.

Obvious RB screen, but he ignores the signs and runs right past the RB.

Should see TE coming across the formation, but oblivious to it, leaving TE wide open.

Raw and Undisciplined

Lacks patience. Takes himself out of position by attacking downhill into the wrong hole as the RB runs somewhere else. Lacks anticipation to predict where hole will open. Completely in wrong gap one play, nearly led to gigantic run.

Defaults to attacking downhill whenever possible. Fooled by read option, goes after the RB.

Aggression causes him to flow sideways too far, opening up cutbacks for RB.

Makes poor decisions trying for low percentage attempts at tackles, instead of taking on the blocker or slowing down the runner to help set up one of his teammates pursuing the play to make the tackle.

Poor technique taking on blocks. Unable to keep an arm free to make tackle. Lacks counter move to get back towards the RB off the block. Tries to run through the blocker and attacks middle of the block, getting himself in trouble. Blasted backwards by blocks, knocked off balance and unable to make play on RB.

Takes on wrong shoulder of blocker. Doesn't stack or box blocks properly. Doesn't have plan for how to work in conjunction with rest of defense, seems intent to try to "run through a wall" every play, thinking he can stop the opponent by repeatedly smashing whatever is in front of him.

Goes under some blocks when he should use his hands to stay over the top of them.

Instead of setting edge with proper technique, just smashes violently into the pulling guard. His lack of technique was a contributing factor in why he injured his thumb.

Wasn't a full time player. Not on the field on some 3rd down situations.

Pro Comparison and Grade

Todd Davis (2014 UDFA, Saints, Sacramento State.) UDFA grade.

Davis was a good starter for the Broncos for a 4 year period from 2016 through 2019. The team rewarded him with a medium priced contract in 2018. To save salary cap money, the Broncos waived Davis at the start of the 2020 season.

Davis only ran 4.87 seconds in the 40 as his pro day. Todd Davis was a very good find for the Broncos. He was an UDFA the same draft that the Broncos drafted Lamin Barrow from LSU in the 5th round. Barrow only lasted one season with Denver.

I'm not a fan of LBs like Britt. Don't know what he adds compared to Troy Reeder. Britt is slightly bigger, because Reeder has very short arms and a small wingspan. Britt can deliver a heavier hit, but he probably doesn't run as fast. Micah Kiser (5th round 2018) was a better draft prospect than Britt. So, even if Britt had been in camp with the Rams in 2020, I don't know if he would have even made the roster, let alone earned a starting spot. That's why I have him graded the way I do.

Nico Johnson on paper was a better prospect than Britt. Like Britt, Johnson was supposed to be a thumper in the middle. Exactly on this date, 8 years ago, Dan Kadar ranked Johnson as the 79th best prospect, which would have been a 3rd round pick. Kadar said Johnson was the 5th best ILB in the draft. He had future draft bust Arthur Brown as the 15th best player. Barrett Jones was 27th on Kadar's list (while Travis Frederick was 61st.) Johnson might as well have been an UDFA for the Chiefs. They got next to nothing out of that 4th round draft pick.

Maybe Rams fans would be super excited to have another "K. Britt" player on the team, since Kenny Britt was the best WR ever and for another Les Snead Auburn draft pick from his alma mater, because Greg Robinson started many more games in the NFL than Bo Jackson (Didn't you know that according to PFR's weighted career value, GRob scores higher than Bo? Metrics are fun. If only we had PFF grades back then.) Sorry for raining on that parade.