I am back in the saddle here for at least a brief post, so I wanted to talk about Kawann Short. Yesterday he became the first player off the board for Purdue when the Carolina Panthers selected the big defensive tackle with the No. 44 overall selection.
The Panthers are getting a first round talent at second round value. Before last season there were some draft boards that were picking KK as high as No. 15 overall. Purdue's disappointing 6-7 season undoubtedly lowered his draft stock, mostly because the defense was gashed by any opposing offense that had a pulse. Kawann still had a solid season of 43 tackles, 15.5 for loss, 7 sacks, 4 passes break ups, 4 passes defensed, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, and an amazing four blocked kicks.
The blocked kicks statistic is a sign of his athleticism, which is something Carolina fans will love. A little known fact is that Kawann was a basketball player in high school. Purdue fans know this, but he was a high school basketball standout and junior center on the 2007 Indiana State Championship team. E'Twaun Moore of the Orlando Magic was his teammate and New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon was playing for the opposition in the championship. KK still posted a double-double 25 points and 10 rebounds in East Chicago Central's 87-83 win in front of 17,000+ fans.
KK has been known to dunk a basketball on a regulation goal with both hands despite a huge frame. That athleticism led to eight blocked kicks over the course of his four year career, including block to seal the win in the 2011 season opener.
He had 19.5 sacks in his career and helped ease the pressure off of Ryan Kerrigan of the Washington Redskins during his first round caliber season two years ago. Kerrigan does not go as a first round pick if Short is not causing havoc elsewhere on the line. One of his best highlights in 2009 as a freshman was being part of a line that completely dominated Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State in a stunning upset at Ross-Ade Stadium. Two years later he was dominant again with three sacks of Braxton Miller in another upset of the Buckeyes.
As a freshman Short started immediately after redshirting during the 2008 season. He picked up two interceptions in addition to 48 tackle on his way to a freshman All-America season. Purdue never had a great year in his four seasons on the field and, in fact, missed a bowl game twice, but he was a factor from day one and started all 50 games in his career. He is an active defender that is capable of batting down passes over the middle and even catching them if he can bat them to himself.
As I said, Short is a first round talent at a second round value. He was a joy to watch the last four years in West Lafayette and Panthers fans will be pleased.