He may be “just a fifth rounder”, but Kyle Emanuel went about his business throughout OTAs, minicamp and preseason to prove his worth. His hard work, determination and attention to detail all culminated with his name being listed in the release of the Chargers’ 53-man roster.
Hallelujah, he made the cut!
His outstanding preseason play was only the lead-in to a stellar debut that saw the 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker do the following: sack Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, nab himself an interception, make three tackles and mess with Stafford’s rhythm. The second quarter sack (a 13-yard loss) caused the Lions to punt. The pick-6 came in the third quarter and the Chargers took over at midfield. Two of the three tackles resulted in lost yardage and the disruption caused a misfire by Stafford that resulted in an interception by cornerback Patrick Robinson. The turnover led to a Stevie Johnson touchdown.
This outing has him nominated for Pepsi Rookie of the Week.
Emanuel played his collegiate ball at North Dakota State University. While there, NDSU had a 58-3 record and won four consecutive NCAA championships (2011-2014). Individually, the former Bison defensive end amassed 234 tackles, 35.5 sacks, 58.5 tackles for loss and two blocked field goals. In his senior year, he led the FCS in tackles for loss (32.5) and sacks (19.5). He was named the Buck Buchanon Award winner for 2014, given to the most outstanding defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Now, along with Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attachou and Cordarro Law, he is one of the four who will comprise the 2015 outside linebacking corps for San Diego. That unit last year combined for 46 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and a lonely sole defended pass. His adeptness as a pass-rusher, complemented with his instincts, athleticism and quickness, certainly did not go unnoticed. An upgrade for that squad was writing on the wall for Bolts general manager Tom Telesco, thus leading him to choose the youngster with the 153rd overall pick this past May.
After the draft, Emanuel had this to say about his preparation:
“No team I talked to told me I’d be a 4-3 defensive end, so everything I’ve been doing has been to make the switch. I worked on standing up in a two-point (stance) and worked with my linebackers coach at NDSU just to learn terminology. That way, things wouldn’t be so foreign when I got drafted. So ever since the process started I started that transition, and now that I’m here, I can already tell it’s getting easier day by day.”
San Diego Chargers Linebacker Coach Mike Nolan says that for his unit, “The biggest change and the thing they have to spend more time in is in coverage. That really is the biggest difference when you go from a defensive lineman to a linebacker. It’s that there is coverage involved. If you are a linebacker that just rushed every down, then there is less adjustment. But for Kyle, the coverage will be a big part. Now in the short time thus far, he’s done an outstanding job. Not just a regular job, but an outstanding job, so we’re all very pleased with where he is in the short term. We are hopeful that progress continues at the same pace, and he would surpass some expectations from a coverage standpoint.”
Obviously, this kid is something special. My advice: keep your eyes peeled on the guy wearing No. 51 on his chest and back, sporting lightning bolts. He looks to be a force on San Diego’s D.
Thanks for reading and Bolt Up!