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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: IDL Carlo Kemp

  • The Draft Network
  • February 1, 2021
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Michigan defensive lineman Carlo Kemp projects as a designated pass rush specialist at the pro level—at least early in his career while he’s still getting his body reconditioned for life on the interior at the next level. Kemp has good first-step quickness and utilized that from 0, 1, 3, and 4i alignments in the Michigan defense to generate pressure as a crash/penetration defender up front. Kemp has never really commanded a prominent feature role and has instead been in more of a complementary role up front for the Wolverines’ deep defensive front despite his high volume of starts. He’ll be well suited to stay in such a role at the NFL level as well to make the most of his fresh first step and attack the backfield. Kemp needs to stack weight onto his frame if he hopes to develop into an every-down player, but his current profile offers him a realistic chance of becoming a viable interior rusher as a specialist; especially challenging the A-gaps on subpackage fronts. 

Ideal Role: Rotational interior designated pass rusher.

Scheme Fit: Wide-9 front.


Written by Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: Michigan State (2019), Minnesota (2020), Indiana (2020), Wisconsin (2020)

Best Game Studied: Michigan State (2019)

Worst Game Studied: Minnesota (2020)

First-Step Explosiveness: Kemp illustrates a very good initial burst out of his stance when he’s aligned on the interior—the closer to the football he’s aligned, the quicker he seemingly gets out of the block. His success in gap penetration makes it clear what kind of system he projects to, as his first step wins him gaps and gets him hip to hip with interior OL swiftly. 

Flexibility: He’s a smaller build, but despite his natural leverage he does have some pad-level issues that pop up on tape. He needs to play with better hinge through the hips to keep him under the hands and pads of blockers. His natural mobility is good and his ability to lean or flatten as a penetration rusher at the peak of his rush arc is effective. 

Hand Counters: Quick hitting counters will do him the most good in the NFL, such as a rip or chop. He has suddenness to his hands but length isn’t an asset that will afford him secondary counters after he’s given up his chest. As is, Kemp will need to flesh this area of his game out a bit to ensure he’s consistently negotiating first contact if he’s unable to get hip to hip out of the blocks. 

Hand Power: He doesn’t offer a great deal of pop. That, plus his marginal functional length, creates hurdles that will be difficult to overcome in the run game. Disengagement skills once he’s stacked up on a block are almost completely dependant on him having leverage of the play and running feet through contact to keep momentum through his read of the block. 

Run Defending: There have been instances in which he’s claimed wins at the mesh point thanks to quick interior pressure. If he’s faced with pullers he has the short-area redirection skills to fall in line behind the block and follow the play. But Kemp’s point of attack resume is underwhelming and will make it difficult to greenlight him taking early-down snaps early in his career. 

Effort/Motor: The hustle in the pocket is real. I’ve seen a few too many plays where he’s “punted” once he’s gotten bubbled and pushed off the football in the run game and it can yield some gaping holes in the middle. His appetite for collapsing or pushing the pocket will suit him well in a specialist role, especially because he’ll be carrying fresh legs. 

Football IQ: Kemp is a 3-year starter from the Wolverines program but his hand usage, pass rush prowess, and prowess overall don’t necessarily reflect such a robust resume. He’s naturally handcuffed to some degree by his stature and length, but his consistency in negotiating blocks or keys lacks the same appeal that you’ll find when you encourage him to simply hunt the backfield. 

Lateral Mobility: Kemp is light on his feet and does well with short-area flight adjustments to duck inside or flash to the football. His crash step is effective to drive down into the assigned gap. 

Core/Functional Strength: If his pads are bubbled and he gives up his chest, consider the rep sunk. He’ll get walked backward off the punch and does not have the E-brake to pull and halt his losses at the point of attack. He’s very clearly undersized and needs the benefit of more time in the weight room to transition his body into an NFL build. 

Versatility: His positional flexibility at Michigan does not appear to be realistic to carry over to the pro game. He needs to be an A-gap designated pass rusher to utilize his quickness and challenge for direct pathways to the football early in his career.


TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Kyle Crabbs: 69.5/100

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