GREEN BAY, Wis. – Before the NFL Draft, Michigan defensive lineman Carlo Kemp said he could envision himself playing a role similar to the one his former Wolverines teammate, Rashan Gary, plays with the Green Bay Packers.
He’ll do more than that. Now, he’ll be teammates with Gary after signing with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent.
“At the NFL level, I could see myself going back and forth like I did here at Michigan,” Kemp told MLive before the draft. “Being able to put my hand in the dirt and possibly even standing up, I think, really helps myself going to that next level where you definitely have to be a versatile guy.”
The top-ranked recruit in Colorado as a linebacker at Fairview High School in Boulder, Kemp started 29 games up and down Michigan’s defensive line. He earned some all-conference honors as a junior and was a four-time member of the Big Ten’s all-academic team. He recorded 4.5 sacks for his career.
With a pick-six and four tackles, he was the defensive MVP of the Hula Bowl all-star game. At pro day, he measured 6-foot-2 1/2 and 281 pounds. He ran his 40 in 5.06 seconds and put up 27 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
Football is in his DNA. He is a nephew of NFL coaches Chuck and John Pagano and the son of Jennifer Pagano. His high school coach was Tom McCartney, a son of legendary Colorado coach Bill McCartney. His agent is another of McCartney’s sons, Mike.
“Both my uncles have been so influential,” Kemp told the school athletic site. “They played high school football and college football, and now they coach in the NFL. I ask them what they're looking for in players and what they see in their players. They're both with perennial (Pro Bowl) players. One of them has Khalil Mack (on the Bears) and the other has J.J. Watt (on the Texans). So, I ask them about those guys and how they work and what they do to help them be a little better.”
Why he’s got a chance with the Packers: Intelligence, motor, versatility and an excellent first step are good starting points. Couple that with playing high-quality competition in the Big Ten and the lack of front-seven depth, he’s got a chance at outside linebacker, where the Packers didn’t draft anybody at a position group with some long-term uncertainty.
Here’s a snippet from his NFL Draft Bible scouting report: A two-year starter for the Wolverines, Kemp was deployed in different roles along Michigan’s odd front. He played anything from shaded nose to five-technique in a front that frequently ran stunts. Kemp times the snap well and has a quick first step, stressing blockers right out of the gate. He can chop the hands of linemen lining up in gaps and even gets skinny through the hole at times. Low pads allow him to win the leverage battle and convert his get-off into leg drive, pushing the pocket. He is active as a pass rusher, creating pressure late due to his effort.