Paul Kruger selected by Baltimore in NFL Draft


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Utah's Paul Kruger has overcome so much to reach the point where he is today. So waiting almost six hours for that phone call was no big deal.

The former Ute defensive end and quarterback at Timpanogos High School was taken by the Baltimore Ravens with the 57th overall selection in the 2nd round of Saturday's NFL Draft.

He will get to play next to stars like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and fellow Utahn Haloti Ngata.

"Perfect." Paul said about landing in Baltimore. "I can't wait to get out there and start getting to know everybody. I'm really excited about being in such a powerful defense like Baltimore's, so I can't wait."

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome considered trading out of the 2nd round. But once he saw that Paul was available, the decision was easy.

"One of the things we set out to do this off-season was to put some additional heat on the quarterback, particularly the guy that plays up in Pittsburgh [Ben Roethlisberger], and we feel that Paul does that for us." Newsome said. "We think he has a big-time ceiling because he's going to get bigger. So, he's a guy who can play anywhere from an outside linebacker to a defensive end over the course of the next three years. I saw what he did to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, so I had that in my mind."

Head Coach John Harbaugh is also very excited about Paul being a Raven.

He is going to fit into our locker room, he's going to fit into our defense." said Harbaugh. "Our defensive coaches can't wait to get started with him. He's going to be a pass rusher for sure. He might be a SAM linebacker, he might be a rush backer, we'll just have to see once he gets on the field. He's a really good football player."

During a post-draft conference call with the media, Kruger spent more time answering questions about his health than his skills.

At age 13, Paul lost a kidney in an ATV accident and in December 2007 he was a victim in a highly publicized stabbing incident.

"One-hundred percent healthy," Paul explained. "It's never affected me with football in any way. I know that teams are a little concerned about that, but to me it's just another scar on my body. I only have one kidney; I've experienced some traumatic things, but I've played through them for years. So to me, it's disappointing that people would think of me like that. But I can't express how grateful I am and happy to be in the situation that I'm in, coming to Baltimore, being on such a powerful team. I'm just really excited to be out there."

Paul was also asked about his maturity after serving two years as an LDS missionary in Kansas City, MO.

"I feel like I have my head on straight. You're not going to have any issues with me with off-the-field kind of stuff. I feel like, yeah, I definitely bring some maturity and some focus, experience, things like that.

As for his play on the field, he doesn't know if he will play as a down lineman or as a linebacker.

"They kind of left it up in the air still," he said. "They told me, ‘We'll look at playing you at an outside linebacker.' Or, put some weight on me and throw me down in a three-point stance. I think we'll just see. As soon as I meet with the coaches and get everything settled in and make that transition, I feel like then we'll see where things pan out."

Wherever he lines up on the field, Kruger is confident he can help improve the Ravens already impressive defense.

"There are a lot of things that I think I bring to the table - a lot of energy and a lot of heart. I'm a guy who loves to play with emotion, and so one of the major things that I think I can contribute is a lot of effort, a lot of intensity. And along with that, I feel like I'm talented and strong, and I have all the physical attributes as well."

E-mail: jjensen@ksl.com

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Jeremiah Jensen sports reporter/anchor

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