Nick Kasa: Video Highlights for Former Colorado TE
It's time to dig deep in our evaluation of the league's top players.
This time around, we're evaluating Colorado tight end Nick Kasa, a projected mid-round pick.
If the name Kasa sounds familiar to you and you don't know why, it's because he's the man who outed the league for its bizarre policy of questioning the sexuality of college prospects.
Let's leave that story aside and take a look at Kasa's potential as an NFL tight end.
Blocking vs. Washington State
Kasa is a converted defensive lineman with good blocking skills, but the beginning of this reel shows a player who doesn't always know what angles to take towards his man.
Based on his above-average 40 time (4.71 per NFL.com), Kasa has the speed to get in position and seal off defenders, but he's going to have to take a geometry course in the summer leading up to his first training camp.
Still, as the video progresses, we see a player with great strength and balance who has the leverage to drive defenders back with a strong base.
Even if he never becomes a great pass-catcher, Kasa has a place in the NFL as an in-line blocker. Every team has a roster spot for a guy who can block effectively.
70-Yard TD Reception vs. Washington State
Let's skip ahead to a little later in the video and take a look at Kasa as a receiver.
This play, a 70-yard strike midway through the fourth quarter, is the stuff of Rob Gronkowski. Kasa displays great burst off the line for a man his size, scorching the linebacker off the snap and shrugging off a weak attempt at a chip before finding the seam up the field.
The head fake he gives to the linebacker—lowering his shoulder as if he's about to run a quick out—is a nice, subtle touch. Still, it's mostly athleticism and not route running that Kasa can hang his hat on as a receiver.
Safety help isn't there over the top and Kasa is able to take advantage. He shows good speed after the catch to finish the play and rumble in for the big score.
Kasa probably won't be as dynamic as Gronkowski (few players are), but he's got the potential to be a solid security blanket for a quarterback if he learns how to find the soft spots in opposing defenses.
Pass-Blocking vs. Arizona State
Let's look at some pass-blocking in this clip.
Kasa isn't necessarily big enough to anchor against defensive linemen, but he moves his feet quickly, maintains a low pad level and keeps a solid base on which to maintain his blocks.
He also locks his arms well after engaging and is able to leverage rushers where he wants them to go after the snap.
Kasa's ability to chip and take on rushers one-on-one, coupled with his stretch-the-field ability up the seams, makes him a player who can cause matchup problems against opposing defenses.
When defenses come out in a nickel formation, Kasa will be a strong blocker who can maul rushers and run-stuffers. When they come out in a base defense, Kasa has the speed to exploit linebackers up the seams.
Route-Running Issues vs. Arizona State
There aren't a lot of examples of Kasa's struggles with route running committed to video, but this is a decent one.
While we can never know who is at fault for the miscommunication on this play, Kasa's reaction after the fact may offer a hint. It appears he is supposed to be running a quick hitch at the sticks on third down, but he rounds off his route—as if to run a lazy out—rather than flipping his hips and squaring his shoulders.
The QB throws the ball where Kasa should have been, resulting in an incomplete pass and fourth down.
The next play on the reel, however, shows some potential for route-running skills, stopping on the cross at the hashmarks, then finishing out to the numbers where there's room between the LB and CB.
He breaks two high tackles, then rumbles on down the field for a big gain.
That play is exactly what we want to see from Kasa. If he can develop his separation skills, he'll be a nice weapon.
Here, Kasa talks about his switch from defensive lineman to TE. As he admits, he's raw at identifying coverages and that shows at times in his route running.
As a TE who will likely be used in goal-line situations (where his size is an asset), Kasa needs to improve his skills when it comes to finding soft spots in the defense rather than running mechanical routes.
He does understand the techniques required of a run-blocker, and as we saw in previous videos, he's talented at using his size and quickness for leverage. As a former defensive lineman, he's aware of what it takes to stop opposing rushers and that's valuable knowledge.
Kasa may never be more than an in-line blocker, but he has the raw potential to become a top-10 TE in the NFL.
If he learns not to round off his breaks and figures out how to "go where they ain't" (to paraphrase an old baseball adage), he'll develop into a solid offensive weapon in time.