Underrated, Under the Radar, but not Undervalued
“Karl Klug? Who is that guy?”
This statement is something that aggravates me when I’m discussing some of my favorite players on the Tennessee Titans to non-Titans fans. I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience this.
It’s difficult to explain Klug’s value because his numbers aren’t comparable to Pro Bowl Defensive Linemen in the league. There aren’t any Youtube highlight reels of his best moments – at least I couldn’t find any.
All that I have to go by is what I’ve seen when number 97 takes the field. Not only do I study what he does – but I also watch the opportunities his disruption creates for his teammates.
The Tennessee Titans Select…
April 30, 2011 – In the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Karl Klug was drafted 142nd overall by the Tennessee Titans. The Iowa Hawkeye has developed into a consistent, interchangeable piece along the Titans defensive line for the last 6 seasons.
December 18, 2016 – the first game Klug would miss after suffering a torn left Achilles tendon injury. A recoverable – but career altering – injury required Klug to have season ending surgery and watch the Titans playoff push end without him contributing on the field.
March 9, 2017 – Klug signs a 2 year, $5 million-dollar contract extension. He plans to come back stronger than every. Klug also plans to build on what was started last season and hopes to contribute in more than 16 games this season.
Under the Radar
At 6’3”, 278 lbs, Klug is not the biggest man on the field. But he plays outside of his physical frame. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in effort, toughness, and a relentless motor.
Klug is an under the radar player that is playing on team that is just now getting national attention. He is a constant producer and influences the production of teammates. Klug has developed a chemistry with fellow 2011 draftee Jurrell Casey and when both are on the field, one – or both – are going to be involved in the play.
Klug’s productivity continues to progress. His snap count isn’t as high because he’s used primarily as a situational player. Klug makes the most out of every opportunity he’s given and will try to have any influence on the disruption of a play.
Against the South
Klug is productive when facing division opponents. 52% of his career sacks and 42% of his tackles have been recorded when playing against the Colts, Jaguars, and Texans.
Maybe it’s due to familiarity. Maybe it is due to a higher snap count. Either way, Klug needs to be on the field against the AFC South.
The standard timetable for torn Achilles tendon recovery is about 6 months. I’m sure the coaching staff will continue to take it easy with Klug and won’t push him harder than they have too. He’ll get just enough reps to keep his edge and playbook familiarity intact.
1, 2 Klug is coming for you
If Klug can make a full recovery, he’ll be a disruptive force on the defensive front. According to Pro Football Focus, last year, he tied for 5th in pass rush productivity – ranking behind Arik Armstead, Ra’Shede Hagemen, Cornelius Washington, Chris Jones, and Calais Campbell. Outside of Washington, the remaining list was drafted in the 2nd round or higher.
Pretty solid contribution from a 5th round pick with limited snaps.
Underrated but not Undervalued
Klug may never have eye catching numbers, but if you watch any Titans game it can easily be seen that statistics do not reflect the dimension he brings to the field. Despite his injury, Klug was a priority to bring back. The Titans did not break the bank to keep him.
His familiarity with the scheme, chemistry with Casey, and veteran influence on the younger defensive players makes Klug worth every penny.