NFL draft: Joe and Dave Kruger looking to join older brother Paul in the NFL
SALT LAKE CITY — When Chris, Dan and Rob Gronkowski made National Football League rosters in 2010, ESPN.com asked the Yale University math department to help determine what the odds were of having three brothers in the league at the same time. Two students came up with solutions. One calculated it at 1 in 32 million, the other at 1 in 19.6 million.
This fall, however, it may happen twice. The groundwork will likely be laid during this week’s NFL draft.
University of Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant is considered one of the top draft prospects this year and is expected to join older brothers Isaiah (New York Jets) and Marcus (Seattle Seahawks) in the NFL.
Utah defensive linemen Dave and Joe Kruger are hoping to accomplish a similar feat for their family. The potential draftees are looking to play in the league with older brother Paul, who helped the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl before signing a lucrative contract with the Cleveland Browns.
“It’s a huge blessing. Not a lot of guys get to do this,” Joe said. “We’re taking our chance and we’re going to go hard, we’re going to go real hard, and we’re both real excited.”
Dave, who noted that a lot of teams have been calling the brothers, acknowledged feeling a little anxious as well.
“It’s going to be a big deal when it happens,” he said. “The whole family is excited.”
Just ask Paul. The four-year NFL veteran is eager for the opportunities that await his brothers as this year’s draft approaches.
“I’ve just been telling them to let it happen and enjoy the moment,” he said. “We’ll be celebrating as a family and just be able to hang out together. You have no idea what’s going to happen, so you just let it ride and go from there.”
The Krugers plan to gather at the family home in Utah County to watch the draft. They plan to keep the gathering small.
“It’s just going to be the family and that’s it. We don’t really want anybody else there,” Dave said. “They’re the ones that have kind of been through the rough — and the highs and the lows — and just really pushed the boys. So just the family for draft day.”
It’s uncertain when one and/or both of the brothers might be taken in the three-day event. Paul expects Joe, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound defensive end, to be drafted. He puts Dave’s chances at 60 percent.
“I think somebody would be wise to pick him up,” Paul said of his 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive tackle sibling. “He’s a darn good player and I think he’s going to shine in the NFL, a lot more than people expect. So we’ll see what happens. It’s definitely a toss-up.”
If Dave isn’t drafted, Paul has no doubt that he’ll be on a team within 30 minutes of Saturday’s conclusion.
“I can’t wait,” Paul added. “I just hope I get one of them in Cleveland.”
There’s a similar sentiment for Oakland, where brother-in-law Tony Bergstrom plays for the Raiders. He’s married to their sister Jessica.
“Oh my goodness, we would be so thrilled if we could get one of them in Cleveland and one in Oakland,” said mother Jessica Kruger. “We would be thrilled to have them go anywhere. We’ll embrace everywhere and anywhere, but it would be wonderful to have two on one team. We would love it.”
So, too, would Joe and Dave.
“I hope that happens. But the chance of that happening is really low,” Joe said. “That would be awesome, though.”
Dave has similar thoughts, agreeing that it isn’t likely to work out that way.
Even so, there may be reason — albeit remote — to think that three brothers could all end up in Cleveland. Joe said that Browns defensive line coach Joe Cullen met with them for about 90 minutes the day before Utah’s Pro Day in March. He told the brothers that the organization really liked them.
“I guess it could happen — a 1 in 32 chance,” Joe said.
Regardless of where they end up, their father Paul is confident things will work out well.
“I think two teams are going to get some great kids that maybe have been a little overlooked,” he said. “So I think Joe and David are going to do great wherever they go.”
Now comes the wait.
“Just wait and watch,” Joe said. “I’m going to be pretty nervous the whole time because who knows. I’ve heard a lot from different teams. Teams have been calling me lately. So it’s just kind of weird not knowing where you’re going to be over the next week.”
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