40: 5.25 (estimated)
Does a nice job initiating contact in pass protection, showing quick, physical hands in a short area. Works hard to finish his blocks. Shows some ability to cut block and make blocks downfield out in front of screens. Is able to get position as a run blocker and wall off defender, playing with some decent pop.
Is a waist bender that gets overextended in pass protection at times and loses leverage. Needs to improve his punch and hand placement. Doesn't have great footwork, and it shows when he's blocking in space. Needs to do a better job delivering blow on the second level rather than receiving it. Tends to block high at times and doesn't stay locked on as a run blocker.
Kowalski is a developmental center that when I initially saw him play, I was unimpressed. But he was much better in their bowl game, the second game I saw, flashing tools to think he could be an NFL starter down the road. A four-year starter at Toledo, that started 22 games his first two seasons at right guard before moving to center as a junior, where he logged 25 starts in the past two years.
He has quick hands, but hasn't quite mastered how to use them. He has enough size to develop as a quality center, but he's probably at least two or three years away from really making an impact. Polishing up his hands will make him more effective. He doesn't have the ability that he'll be a matchup issue with the top level tackles at the next level. At the very least, he should be able to add depth at the center position and be a nice developmental guy for a team with an aging guy at the spot. Many teams don't really keep a true center on the roster as a backup, not unless they have an aging vet on the roster. Instead, they'll keep a combo guard/center for emergencies. And Kowalski just doesn't have the size or athleticism to really excel in that role despite his experience playing guard. And because of that, it's going to be hard for him to last for more than two or so years on a roster if he isn't adding additional value by playing multiple positions. So he could wind up being a journeyman as a reserve center before he lands the perfect opportunity to become a starter. Ultimately, I don't see him as a top starter, but he can be an average starter that is good enough to get the job done.
Kowalski could challenge Hawley for the heir apparent to McClure, but I don't see him as a guy that would really win that role, and thus he'd more than likely be a career backup in Atlanta, that will be hard-pressed to stick because of his limited potential to play multiple positions. He could add depth on the practice squad and be an OK reserve, but unless he beat out Hawley outright for the starting job by his second or third year, the team would move on with a more physical and versatile reserve.
Kowalski is worth a look in the seventh round for a team looking for a long-term developmental center, but probably more in line with undrafted talent.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Blocking: 3.0
Run Blocking: 2.5
Mean Streak: 3.5
Scouting reports of the centers, guards, and tackles in the 2011 Draft.
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