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Scout's Notebook: Giants SLB Mathias Kiwanuka

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Posted Sept. 15, 2010 @ 1:45 p.m. ET
By Nolan Nawrocki

SLB-DE-DT Mathias Kiwanuka
New York Giants

: 6-5¾, Weight: 264, Speed: 4.74

Notes: Grandson of Uganda's first prime minister. Won back-to-back state 4A championships at Indianapolis (IN) Cathedral. A three-year starter at Boston College, Kiwanuka totaled 245 career tackles with 64½ tackles for loss and 37½ sacks (both school records) with 13 pass breakups, three interceptions (one TD) and three forced fumbles. Was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, then dealt with knee and ankle problems as a senior before the Giants selected him in the first round (32nd overall) of the 2006 draft. Started 9-of-16 games at defensive end as a rookie, totaling 55 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Converted to strong-side linebacker in '07 and started 9-of-10 games, managing 47 tackles, 4½ sacks and a forced fumble before suffering a season-ending fractured left fibula injury. Was moved back to defensive end following Osi Umenyiora's season-ending injury in August '08 — started all 16 games played plus the divisional-playoff game, and notched 59 tackles (13 for loss) and a career-high eight sacks with two batted passes and two forced fumbles. Added five tackles in a first-round playoff loss to the Vikings. Despite starting just 6-of-16 games in '09, amassed 81 tackles (second on the team) with three sacks and two forced fumbles. Is in the final year of his rookie contract.

Positives: Very versatile with excellent body length and good athletic ability. Matches up favorably against tight ends against the run — presses the corner, can stick his feet in the dirt and set the edge. Athletic enough to fall back into zone coverage — loose limbed to flip his hips and redirect in space. Very good pursuit effort — chases hard backside and runs to the ball. Creates mismatches over guards when aligned inside, easily taking the edge — beat Panthers Pro Bowl C Ryan Kalil for a sack in the ’10 season opener and is effective shooting gaps and creating penetration.

Negatives: A bit high-cut and thin-legged — lacks bulk strength and does not play with power. Can be outleveraged and outmuscled as an inside rusher and struggle matching up with offensive tackles. Cannot convert speed into power. Not a strong tackler and can do a better job securing tackles in the box. Has a thin bone structure and a narrow bone structure that is susceptible to injury. Is not an accomplished hands fighter and shows little variety in his pass rush — can be engulfed if he does not win at the snap. Is a jack of all trades, master of none.

Summary: A value pick made by retired GM Ernie Accorsi in his final draft, Kiwanuka has the versatility to rush from a down position, and he provides value as a situational inside rusher. However, when Justin Tuck and Umenyiora are healthy, Kiwanuka primarily shifts to playing over the tight end, where he appears most comfortable, and brings value mismatching interior linemen from the inside, where he notched two fourth-quarter sacks against the Panthers in Week One.

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