In an ongoing effort to completely break down the 2013 Oakland Raiders offense heading into training camp, Just Blog Baby continues its 2013 NFL Training Camp preview with a look at one of the Raiders 2013 draft picks, tight end Nick Kasa from Colorado.
Changing from defensive end to tight end halfway through his junior season before becoming one of the Pac 12′s best pass catchers in 2012, Nick Kasa was one of the more intriguing late round prospects left on the board going into the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Losing Brandon Myers at tight end and needing to add bodies at the position, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie decided to pull the trigger on the raw, but extremely talented Kasa with the 172nd pick in the draft in the sixth round.
A highly touted defensive line prospect heading out of high school, Nick Kasa made the switch from defensive end to tight end late in his junior season and quickly became one of the best pass catching tight ends in the Pac 12 as well as a legitimate pass and run blocking prospect in just a year and a half at the position, making Kasa a rookie with tremendous upside.
In fact in 2012, Kasa had a season that most seniors can only dream of. Compiling over 300 yards and 20 catches, Kasa went from being a depth player at Colorado to one of their only NFL prospects over night and despite the Buffaloes struggles as a team he was one of their few bright spots.
In total, Kasa caught 25 passes for 391 yards (better than projected starter David Ausberry’s senior numbers at USC) as well as hauling in a highlight reel 70 yard catch and run touchdown in CU’s come from behind win against Washington State.
Kasa was good enough to rank third on the team in yards and fourth in catches as well as being named to the All-Pac 12 team as an honorable mention and taking part in the 2013 Senior Bowl. Incredible considering that he was essentially a sophomore after the position change during his junior season. Those numbers led Kasa to the Senior Bowl (Kasa was also invited to the Shrine Game, but he declined).
Besides for his position change, Kasa is also known for revealing that he was put through a line of questioning on his sexuality during draft interviews with NFL teams at the combine. Kasa said that he was asked “Do you like girls” and his comments along with Manti T’eo’s started a slight stir going into the draft about front office staff asking rookies about their sexual orientation.
A former defensive lineman Kasa is naturally powerful for tight end at 269 pounds and runs a 4.71 40 with a frame and skillset that draws comparisons to Jason Witten and could be a very good NFL tight end one day. Blessed with the size of a linemen and the speed of the average NFL tight end, it is hard not to get at least a little bit excited about Kasa’s potential.
Still, he did play for a losing team in Colorado that finished with just one win in the Pac 12 over Washington State and is a new tight end, but at this point is he likely equally as useful as Richard Gordon or David Ausberry? Absolutely.
Kasa will still need to continue to learn the game and the jump from being the tight end on a 1-11 Pac 12 team to playing in the NFL will be steep for Kasa who is very raw at the position. Still his talent is obvious and he was one of the rare bright spots on a very bad CU team and will be one of the Raiders most intriguing rookies heading into 2013. If he can continue to improve his tight end talents, Reggie McKenzie may have landed himself a steal in Kasa.