San Diego Chargers‘ Outside Linebacker Kyle Emanuel was an afterthought by most after being taken in the 5th round of this year’s draft. Emanuel had a very productive college career for the Bison at North Dakota State, racking up 19.5 sacks his senior year. He was also first-team FCS All-American and was voted Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the year.
While it was hard to argue against his stats, it was how he would fit the switch to a two-point stance in the Chargers’ 3-4 defense and stack up against NFL players.
Check and check! Emanuel displayed his dominance on Thursday in his first taste of NFL action. In 25 defensive snaps he made his presence felt, he finished with two tackles, a tackle for loss, one QB hit and a sack.
In the second quarter, on a 2nd and 10, he beat left tackle Darrion Weems and sacked Cowboys back-up QB Dustin Vaughn for a 7-yard loss. His teammates ribbed him for not having a sack celebration prepared, but I don’t think that was even in Emanuel’s mind.
He explained what went down on the play at Chargers.com, “We had an outside linebacker blitz on both guys coming. I noticed my tackle was setting me a little wider the play before and he did it again so I made an inside move and was fortunate to get to the quarterback.”
His impact was also felt on special teams. Again in the second quarter, he covered a punt and forced a fumble on the returner which the Chargers recovered.
Emanuel was penciled in as a core special teams player but will be called upon even more now with news that OLB Tourek Williams will need surgery to repair a broken foot he suffered in the game.
On Friday’s practice, Emanuel took snaps with the first team defense and could see some time there in Saturday’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Chargers fell in love with Emanuel’s tenacity and he’s taken that approach in OTA’s, offseason workouts, and now during his first NFL action. He will quickly become a fan favorite as we see more of him in action with preseason games and eventually when it counts. I can’t wait to see how he develops and gets better every snap. He could end up as one of the biggest steals of the 2015 draft.