In this week’s edition of Nick’s Lab, I wanted to show some love to the hogs all across the WPIAL wherever you may be. Shout out to all of the guys who get it done up front. That being said, the spotlight this week wil be on Butler High School’s Jake Kradel (G, 6’4 290). Kradel committed to Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt Panthers back in May with a message entitled ‘STAYING HOME’.
Kradel is being brought in as an offensive lineman, and will more than likely project as a guard at the college level. Kradell is one of the most highly rated prospects of the 2018 class and entertained offers from Ohio State, West Virginia, UCLA, and Maryland. Kradel is by every sense of the word a road-grader. It has been a long, long time since I’ve seen a WPIAL offensive lineman finish blocks and dominate the way this kid does.
Let’s head to the lab to further evaluate what wil be a key component of the future for the Pitt Panther offensive line.
Welcome to pancake city. Butler here is running one of their many traps, this one out of a pistol look with a sidecar receiving the give. Watch how quickly Kradel is able to flip his hips and get down to kick this 3 technique. With a give this quick and a trap so well executed, this is the type of run that can break for 6 at any point. A trap is designed to be as quick-hitting of a play as you can get, Kradel is able to bucket step and dominate at the point of attack. There is more of this to come.
Here is a great example of Kradel’s ability to be a utility, plug-and-play OL at the next level. Butler has the same play on out of the same formation but to the other side. He moves over to the LG spot to become the trapping guard again. As you can see, the play may have been stuffed but this kid shows an attitude and a desire to finish with nastiness. These are traits that separate Division I lineman from the other big bodies at this level and beyond.
Play #3 @00:24
The Golden Tornadoes here are in a 4th and long situation against NA. Butler is in a full-house backfield, looking to max protect to make sure this ball gets out to the perimeter in rhythym for the tunnel screen. Kradel is lined up at LG and just watch the way he finishes this blitzing linebacker looking to run through the A gap. Tosses him like a ragdoll. Kradel’s natural strength alone is what makes a coach like Urban Meyer perk his ears up.
Play #4 00:33
Kradel here is lined up again at LG. Butler just has a little lead play coming right behind 56. He earns the title as a road-grader in this clip. For a 6’4 guard he keeps his pads at a nice level and shows you his ability as a downhill drive-blocker. A skillset like his makes all the sense in the world for a Pitt offense. Traditionally, Pitt has liked large but athletic offensive lines. They want athleticism and versatility, especially in an interior guy who may get kicked to 3 different positions inside.
In this 5th and final clip of the evening, I found this one particularly impressive. Division I offensive line prospects must excel in the run game, but coaches in 2017 want to see the same dominance in pass pro. Kradel has balance and an anchor, two necessities once again that separate good from great. Kradel initially steps down an is able to secure his gap. What I liked most here was the way he picked up this blitzing linebacker coming in red hot. A pickup like this shows both awareness and an advanced level of skil. 2 for 1? I’ll take it any day. Kradel is overwhelming both in the run as well as in protection. It’s easy to see why this young man is the most highly regarded lineman in the WPIAL. Pat Narduzzi is getting himself a player and he knows it.