The Minnesota Vikings have decided to put rookie linebacker Anthony Barr on injured reserve and have promoted linebacker Josh Kaddu from the practice squad, per Andrew Krammer at 1500ESPN:
#Vikings move Anthony Barr to injured reserve to promote linebacker Josh Kaddu from the practice squad.
— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) December 27, 2014
Anthony Barr was having an excellent rookie season before his injury, and in particular showcased his range and developing instincts to help put together a surprisingly good defense. He will finish the season with four sacks, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 55 solo tackles, 15 tackle assists and a fumble return touchdown.
Right now, he’s ranked seventh in Pro Football Focus’ player grades for 4-3 outside linebackers despite missing a chunk of the season. He ranks as the ninth-most efficient pass rusher among qualifying 4-3 outside linebackers in Pass Rusher Productivity, and adds to his sack total with four hits and ten hurries. As his season wore on, he had issues wrapping up his tackles and ended up as the least efficient tackler at his position, ranked 27th in missed tackles per tackle attempt.
He was targeted more per cover snap than any other linebacker in coverage, and as a result allowed more receptions than any other linebacker in coverage. That said, he ranked an average 27th out of 39 linebackers in passer rating allowed when targeted.
I wrote about Josh Kaddu back when he was signed to the practice squad, and I’ll quote the piece in full below:
The Minnesota Viking have added edge rusher/linebacker Josh Kaddu to the practice squad. He played both as a rush linebacker in Oregon’s 3-4 sets and an off-ball linebacker in other sets. For Philadelphia, Kaddu played as an outside linebacker and edge defender, known of course for having former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly at the helm. Vikings announced the move as if he’s a linebacker, so just like Anthony Barr, he may end up transitioning to an off-ball or hybrid role with the Vikings. It didn’t take too long to look him up and see who the Vikings invested in instead of re-upping with Mike Remmers.
The open spot became available because the Chicago Bears signed former Baylor and Cowboys safety Ahmad Dixon off the Vikings practice squad. There was some speculation it could herald the return of Mike Remmers, but they chose a linebacker instead.
In Miami, Kaddu did play that off-ball role, and in Oregon he did drop into coverage often, so it’s not out of the question or out of his experience to be able to do that. Without workout numbers from Kaddu, we can’t measure if this is similar to the Justin Jackson signing from near the end of the preseason—an athletic wonder who hasn’t put it all together yet—but we can gather from some of his Oregon tape.
Kaddu shows great burst and straight-line speed, and his change of direction seems neither spectacular or a liability. His instincts also seem average, but he doesn’t get caught with false steps against fakes and exhibits a lot of lateral range. He looks much taller than his 6’3″ listing (he measured in at 6’3″ and 1/8″) and has loads of length. In general it seems like he has underrated strength, but can get washed out because of his leverage and weight.
At Oregon, Kaddu wasn’t an every-down linebacker (they preferred Boseko Lokombo), but they trusted him to cover slot receivers and tight ends on a number of downs. Though he might have transition issues, he had great footwork in press coverage with a lot of discipline. As a rusher, he had decent flexibility and had an extremely high motor.
Though he sometimes has violent and active hands, he has issues coming off of blocks, especially in the run game—and he’s definitely not consistent about using his hands, often not using them at all or being ineffective when he does. Still, he definitely had some understanding of leverage, though he often played too high. Still, it’s not all bad and there’s something there:
There are a couple of scouting reports available around of him. At NEPatriotsDraft.com, he was given a 6.3 grade, which is in between 6.0 (“backup player with upside to a starting position after a few years”) and 6.5 (“immediate contributor that should eventually become an NFL starter”).
Strengths: Has great height and length for a SLB at 6’3” with 33 ⅜” arms – Used all over the field by Oregon, had no trouble covering WRs and TEs in man split out wide – Uses long arms well both in coverage and against the run, extends well to get space against blockers at times – Has nice change of direction, a natural athlete – When blitzing, can be effective with speed rush, just running by offensive linemen, dips his shoulders at times – Very fluid, good agility – Nice pursuit and a good wrap up tackler.
Weaknesses: Could afford to bulk up if he’s going to play SLB in the NFL, a slim 239 lbs. – Generally will just run into blockers without attempting any moves while rushing the passer – Too easily blocked out of plays – Isn’t violent with his hands, uses length far more than hands – Stays too upright, loses strength because of it, can’t elevate blockers – Poor instincts, is still very raw and relies mostly on his athleticism – Doesn’t fill holes well in the run game, like in the pass game, will just run right into blockers – Freezes at the snap when asked to cover in a zone scheme, far more effective in man.
Kaddu will be a project, his athleticism is certainly intriguing, but he’ll need to bulk up and develop more NFL skills before he can play with regularity. Could be a solid option on special teams early in his career due to athleticism.
FFToolbox has a similar scouting report that highlights his strength/bulk issues as a linebacker:
Josh Kaddu is an athletic linebacker prospect with a high ceiling, yet currently insufficient skill set that will take time to groom at the next level. He shows a nice burst going after the ball and doesn’t shy away from laying the wood. His long arms really wrap well against the ball-carrier. He also does well to drive through and bring him down to the ground. Kaddu is at his best playing downhill and aggressively, although he sometimes bites off more than he can chew, which causes over-pursuit at times.
He can play standing up off the edge, but is not yet a great pass rusher. He needs to improve his ability to play with a good pad level and stay under his opponent when being blocked. He could afford to bulk up and still has room on his frame to grow another 10 pounds of muscle. In coverage, he’s not ready yet. Still falls back on his athleticism to run around the field and doesn’t take great pursuit angles. He can play cleanly through his hips, but he often opens them up and takes himself out of position.
In order to take the next step, he needs to use his hands better to disengage from blockers in his pass rush. As for his coverage problems, it is a matter of better understanding the game and understanding his role in the defense, rather than playing like he’s the only man on the field.
The National Football Post doesn’t diverge from that either:
A well-put-together athlete with a noticeably long set of arms. Displays an initial burst when asked to close from the backside, exhibiting good closing speed in pursuit and generates a pop as a tackler. Keeps his base down into contact, uses his length well to wrap and can be violent at the point. Doesn’t have a great feel for the game at this stage, however, and can be a bit slow to react at times and decipher information. Plays on the strong side and is used consistently to attack downhill. Extends his arms well into contact and maximizes his length at times, displaying the ability to create a jolt on contact when taking on blocks. However, doesn’t possess the anchor strength at this stage to routinely hold the point of attack at the next level. Doesn’t have a great feel of how to use his hands either.
Used in a variety of ways on third down. Isn’t a natural pass rusher at this stage. Possesses a good initial burst off the line standing up, but struggles to fatten out on the corner. Gets upright and looks too tight to drop pad level around the edge. Most of his pressure comes off his motor/work rate. Doesn’t have much of a pass-rushing arsenal, seems to slow his feet when trying to decipher information and isn’t a real impact guy when asked to reach the QB. Displays slightly above-average fluidity in the hips when asked to open up and run. However, gets upright, struggles to keep his feet under him and is leggy in and out of his breaks taking away form his initial burst. Showcases good closing speed once he gets his legs back under him, but doesn’t feel/anticipate routes well in zone coverage.
Impression: Displays a good athletic skill set, runs well and possesses some natural power to his game. But is a better athlete than football player at this stage. Looks like the kind of guy who will need to make his mark on special teams.
He didn’t do well for the Eagles in the preseason (picked up from the Miami Dolphins, who had drafted him in the fifth round) and was cut in the final set of cutdowns. Though his 2013 preseason as a 4-3 outside linebacker was graded well by Pro Football Focus (+0.8 with one bad grade in the HOF game), his 2014 was far worse (-5.1, with much of it coming from a heavy-snap rotation in the final game and a -3.2 grade). Interestingly, the Eagles were also not too concerned lining up Kaddu against receivers—though that didn’t contribute to his negative grade, as almost all of it came from run defense.
Since entering the NFL, there’s no question that he’s bulked up, but it seems like that may have been paired with losing some of his speed, obviating any advantage he may have gained in strength and anchor as a result. If he finds a good balance of the two, however, he should be a very good special-teamer and backup linebacker, with the tail-end of his upside being a platoon nickel linebacker, like Hodges is when Barr lines up as a defensive end.
Since then, Chris Tomasson at the Pioneer Press grabbed a quote from Jasper Brinkley on Kaddu’s prospects:
“Things happen in this league,” Brinkley said. “It’s a tough league, especially for a linebacker. It’s always next man up, and we definitely have a guy that can do it.”
Brinkley was referring to Josh Kaddu, a third-year man and member of the practice squad who appears likely to be added to the roster.
“They’ve been working me a little bit,” said Kaddu, who last played in a regular-season game with Miami in 2013. “They said they’ll let me know. It’s a possibility, but it’s not a guarantee. That’d be a great experience, to get out there and play some football.”
He also tweeted some quotes that didn’t make the story, including this one:
Jasper Brinkley is impressed with Josh Kaddu: “Fast. Speed. Powerful. Great guy, man. Humble kid.’’
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) December 26, 2014
If he wears his weight well, it will be an interesting look.