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Getting to Know Your Newest Cardinals: Kenny Iwebema

Kenny_mediumIn an effort to stock talent along the defensive front, the Cardinals took Kenny Iwebema with the 17th pick of the fourth round (116th overall). He was a three year starter at Iowa and his best season was actually his red-shirt sophomore season in which he burst onto the scene with 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 7 sacks. That season was highlighted in a game against Wisconsin when he notched two sacks against 2007’s 3rd overall pick, Joe Thomas. His junior and senior seasons weren’t near as productive though. He missed a several games due to ankle and shoulder injuries and was suspended for academic reasons during his junior season (2006). He’d total 55 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks during those two seasons (19 games). The book on Iwebema is pretty clear. He’s stout against the run, sheds blocks well and he plays with a nasty demeanor. He’s also shown a knack for blocking kicks over the course of his career. One thing he does surprisingly well for a man of his size is drop into coverage and he even performed linebacker drills at the combine. The consensus seems to be that he’s better suited at defensive end, although he’ll need to add some 10-15 pounds to be a true 3-4 defensive end. The areas of Iwebema’s game that are lacking are pretty evident. He’s hasn’t shown much of an ability to rush the passer, at least in the past two seasons. His pass rush moves are limited to collapsing the pocket with a bull rush. For that reason, some see him as only a two down defensive end in this league. There’s also some concern about his effort. Some scouts have gone as far to say it’s been a question mark on him throughout his time at Iowa.

Iwebema won’t win a starting job right away. He may never be an every down player in the NFL either but there’s no question that he can line up at defensive end and shut down a running game. He’s got the size and strength to cause problems for any linemen. Look for him to be a part of the defensive line rotation in 2008 and with some time to develop a pass rush repertoire he might just open a lot of eyes in a couple of years.