Career Recap: Over the past two seasons, Kiser has been a tackling machine for Virginia. He had a breakout 2015 season as a sophomore, totaling 117 tackles with 7.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, and two passes broken up. In 2016, Kiser managed to increase his tackle production to 134 stops, 10 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, seven passes broken up, five forced fumbles and an interception.
2017 Season Outlook: Kiser will see plenty of rushing-based offenses in 2017, so he should produce another season of big tackle totals. The best tests for Kiser's pass defense could come against Duke as the Blue Devils have been consistent with David Cutcliffe directing their passing offense. In early November, Kiser will have his biggest test of the year with Louisville and reigning Heisman Trophy quarterback Lamar Jackson. The dual-threat Jackson should challenge Kiser's run defense and pass coverage.
Skill-Set Summary: Even though the NFL is a passing-driven league, pro defenses still have a place for a run-stuffing interior linebacker. Such players may be rotational, but they are key to goal-line, short-yardage, and four-minute defenses. In the older era of pro football, Kiser would be a more in-demand player, but he still should fill a role as a professional.
Kiser is a physical in-the-box defender against the run. He is thick, strong and sturdy, plus can diagnose plays and read his keys well. Kiser also tackles consistently, physically taking to the ball-carriers to the ground. While Kiser is an intelligent, instinctive defender, he doesn't possess sideline-to-sideline speed or elite athleticism. Kiser makes up his lack of elite attributes by being a tough interior linebacker at the point of attack.
In pass coverage, Kiser is going to need development for the NFL to be a three-down starter. Kiser isn't fast or fluid in pass coverage, so pro offenses could single him out for mismatch plays. Virginia often uses him as a pass-rusher by having him blitz off the edge or rush up the middle, and that is a more natural fit for Kiser as he can use his instincts and downhill quickness to pressure quarterbacks.
Kiser has some athletic limitations for the NFL. He is not a fast linebacker, not a fluid athlete, lacks lateral speed, and can have issues redirecting. Trimming some weight down might help him a little, but Kiser could be limited to being more of a run-stuffing linebacker for the pro game.
In the NFL, Kiser would fit best as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense with a fast run-and-chase linebacker next to him. For a 4-3 defense, Kiser will need to develop pass-coverage skills to serve as a three-down starter at Mike (middle) linebacker. He doesn't have the speed and athleticism to be a Will (weak side) linebacker, but he could be a nice fit as a Sam (strong side) linebacker who is tough against the run and also contributes as a blitzer off the edge.
2018 NFL Draft Expectations: Kiser looks like a potential second-day or mid-round prospect heading into the 2017 season.