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Arizona Cardinals Rookie Kenny Iwebema: Six Week Checkup

The fourth round of the draft brought the Arizona Cardinals what some some considered a log jam at defensive end when they selected Kenny Iwebema. Iwebema was the second defensive end selected in the draft and gave the Cardinals two solid backups to Darnell Dockett and Antonio Smith. Some thought his selection was a bit of reach in the fourth round but it made more sense once we learned that defensive line coach Ron Aiken recruited Iwebema to Iowa and was his position coach for a couple of seasons. Reportedly Aiken lobbied pretty hard for Iwebema and believed that he was much closer to the player that excelled asIwebeam_medium a sophomore (48 tackles & 7 sacks) than the kid who struggled (comparitively speaking) his junior and senior season (55 tackles & 6.5 sacks combined).

The scouting report on Iwebema was that he was very stout against the run but that he lacked premier pass rush skills. Al Johnson spoke during camp about Iwebema's strength and how hard he was to move off the ball. When the Cardinals were desperate for a nose tackle the first game of the season they turned to Iwebema, so his ability to hold his ground against the run would seem to ring true. He also flashed some of the pass rush skills that he was supposedly lacking when he recorded two sacks in the preseason. It's a good sign that he's has been active in every game this season considering that he could concievably have been inactive given the depth at defense end and nose tackle.

Overall his lack of measurable contributions are the result of what Dockett and Smith are doing instead of something that Iwebema hasn't done. He's looked impressive when he's been on the field and I can't remember seeing him get abused when he's seen the field. The depth across the defensive line works against him but he's a solid player who will help this team win in the future. Thoughts? What kind of player do you think Iwebema will be?