Nick Kwiatkoski came to Morgantown from the WPIAL as a safety and quickly transformed himself into a reliable starter at linebacker, starting the last three seasons. Kwiatkoski, or "Kwit" for short, led the Mountaineers in tackles all three years (at total of 275 over his last three seasons) since earning a starting nod as a redshirt sophomore in 2013. Despite his initial small size coming into Morgantown, he wound up being exactly the prototypical linebacker one would expect to see coming out of the WPIAL league in Pennsylvania.
A starter at all three linebacker positions at WVU, Kwiatkoski garnered All Big 12 honorable mention as a junior and first team honors as a senior. He's also been able to stay mostly healthy, only missing three games during his sophomore season. Ever the ball hawk, Kwit should have a nice NFL career ahead of him. Here's what Coach Gibson had to say:
He’s a throwback," West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. "People use that term a lot, but he’s a guy that could have played in any decade, ever since I’ve been involved in football. He’d be a guy that could be on any team I’ve ever been around and be as productive as he is right now. He’s a special kid who just keeps working and getting better."
|40 Yard Dash
You can watch his combine workout HERE (NFL.com won't enable embedding, sorry).
Kwit is a student of the game and a workout warrior, being noted for his film study and weight room work. He's a tackling machine, working his way to the ball on most plays. He also has decent pass defense skills as noted by his 6 career interceptions. Nick has a physical demeanor and a bit of a mean streak with good form tackling. He's a coachable kid and an overachiever.
Nick has a tendency to bite on playfakes too often, looking to stuff the run when it isn't there. His straight line speed is a bit of a hindrance based on his 40 time, which makes sideline to sideline pursuit a concern. Many scouts have noted his size as a weakness, with room for another 10 pounds of muscle on his frame. His power at the point of attack is also a concern, mainly in having his pad level too high, making him susceptible to blocks if he doesn't win the initial contact.
McShay had the Patriots selecting Kwit with pick number 60 (in one of his mocks) to bolster their linebacking depth and for immediate special teams help.
The local boys have always been kind to the Mountaineers, especially after Mike Tomlin took over. I wouldn't be surprised if Kwit was able to stay close to home and play in Pittsburgh.
Kiper has my 49ers taking Kwit in the 3rd round to bolster their ever-thinning linebacking corps. If he is selected here, he could be in the mix for early playing time. He would also be the first Mountaineer 49er of note since they took a chance on Rasheed Marshall as a wide out.
Outlook and Projection
Kwiatkoski is a smart and effective linebacker that will fit well as an inside guy in a 3-4 scheme or a strong linebacker in certain 4-3 schemes. It could take him a year or so to bulk up and learn the intricacies of the pro game but should be of immediate help on special teams at the very least. His drive and determination should lead him to a successful pro career. He's been projected anywhere from the 3rd to 7th rounds of the draft, though his stock has been rising ever since a solid Senior Bowl performance. If he drops past the 4th round, he'll be considered a steal to whoever takes him.
Projection: Round 3