One of the brights spots for the Chiefs defense last season was the emergence of Andy Studebaker.
Starting in place of the injured Mike Vrabel against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Studebaker had 2 clutch interceptions for a total of 96 return yards. Andy nearly took one pick all the way back for a touch down but was finally caught inside the 5 yard line leading to many “the Studebaker ran out of gas” jokes.
Playing mostly as a backup to Mike Vrabel in 2009, Studebaker recorded 28 tackles and two picks. While this is a small sample size, I think Studebaker may just have a chance to be a surprise star for KC as well as a huge help to their pass rush issues.
Andy Studebaker was drafted in the 6th round by the Philadelphia Eagles. The 203rd overall pick, Studebaker was a long shot to make the final 53 man roster on the defensivly deep Eagles. Philadelphia waived Studebaker on the last day of cuts in August of 2008 and put him on the practice squad. Thankfully, Herm Edwards noticed and snatched Studebaker away from the Eagles.
Studebaker played his college ball at division 3 Wheaton College. Here is a little bit about Andy’s college career from Wikipedia:
Following his 2006 junior year at Wheaton College, Studebaker was named a First-team All-American and North Region Defensive Player of the year by D3Football.com. He was also named College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Defensive Player of the Year. He led the conference with 17½ sacks (the most in the NCAA in 2006) and 25½ tackles for loss. Studebaker graduated from Wheaton College in May 2008 with a degree in Applied Heath Sciences.
That’s right. Studebaker had 17 ½ sacks in college. Sure it was in D-3 but pass rushing skills are pass-rushing skills and Andy Studebaker had more sacks in 2006 than any other college player at any level. Here is a look at Studebaker’s scouting report for SI.com:
BIOGRAPHY: Three year starter awarded all-Conference and all-America honors throughout his college career. Posted 12/6.5/5 as a senior when a foot injury limited him to five games. Junior totals included 55/24.5/17.5 when he led the NCAA in sacks.
POSITIVES: Athletic and explosive pass rusher who makes a lot of plays up the field. Gets off the snap with a quick first step, plays with terrific pad level and immediately changes direction or alters his angle of attack. Effectively fights with his hands, moves well laterally and rarely off his feet. Hustles to get involved in the action and plays with a nasty attitude. Shows a closing burst of speed, makes plays down the line and quickly locates the ball. Fast off the edge and in any direction of the field.
NEGATIVES: More of a first move defender who must beat blockers off the snap. Struggles against big offensive linemen and slow shedding blocks at the point. Rarely asked to make plays in reverse.
ANALYSIS: Studebaker has been ultra-productive on a small-school level and was a pass rushing nightmare. His development was halted last season by the injury yet he offers a good amount of upside and should be given looks late in the draft as a rush linebacker for a 34 alignment.
The following week against the Pittsburgh Steelers was Studebaker’s coming out party. In his first NFL start, Studebaker recorded 5 solo tackles and two interceptions. He followed that game up with a 6-tackle effort the following week in a loss to the Chargers.
Following the San Diego game, Mike Vrabel returned and Studebaker went back to his backup role, although he received more playing time and he recorded at least 1 tackle a game the rest of the season. He also scored his first NFL touchdown on special teams, when he dove into a pile to recover a muffed punt against the Cleveland Browns.
Studebaker made plays every time he stepped on the field for Kansas City. Despite the fact that the Chiefs re-signed Vrabel, I think they believe Studebaker could be their OLB of the future and what better mentor could he have than Mike Vrabel?
Andy may need some more time to develop, especially coming out of a D-3 school but don’t be surprised of he seizes Mike Vrabel’s starting job this season. We all know Todd Haley isn’t afraid to bench a veteran if he thinks a younger player gives the team a better chance to win. It also shouldn’t be ignored that Studebaker will be under the guidance of Romeo Crennel, who did a fantastic job of utilizing Vrabel’s talents in New England. If Crennel can maximize Andy’s potential, especially his pass rushing abilities, Studebaker could be the surprise player of the year for Kansas City.