Devon Kennard NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for Giants OLB

Darren PageFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Devon Kennard #42 of the USC Trojans celebrates his sack on third down during a 17-14 win over the Utah State Aggies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Devon Kennard, OLB, USC (HT: 6’3” WT: 249 lbs.)

New York Giants

Fifth Round: 174th Pick

NFL Comparison: Keith Rivers, OLB, New York Giants

Combine Weigh-In
HeightWeightArmHand
603024933 3/8"9 3/8"
NFL.com
Combine Workout
40-yd Dash10-yd DashVertBroadThree-ConeShuttle
4.701.6030"9'5"7.254.32
NFL.com

Positives

  • Natural flexibility in the hips to flatten out around the corner and in the ankles to turn corners quickly. 
  • Instinctive rusher in terms of reading the block and adjusting on the fly. 
  • Has an effective rip move through the outside shoulder of tackles. 
  • Flashes a variety of pass-rush moves, including an effective spin back to the inside. 
  • Effective rusher on stunts; can get skinny through tight spaces and squeeze past interior pass-blockers. 
  • Gets hands up to deflect passes at the line of scrimmage well. 
  • Sufficient play recognition and spatial awareness for pass coverage. 
  • Comfortable dropping from the line of scrimmage into zones. 
  • Reliable on the outside to set an edge and force edge-run plays back to his help on the inside. 
  • Extends hands to create space on a consistent basis. 
  • Doesn't often get completely locked up by run-blockers. 
  • Widely regarded as a high-character player and a leader. 
  • NFL bloodlines.

Negatives

  • Not an overwhelmingly athletic or powerful defender. 
  • Is likely maxed out in terms of frame and physique. 
  • Not exceptionally quick off the line or explosive in any way. 
  • Will struggle to beat NFL tackles around the corner as a speed rusher. 
  • Inconsistent to poor usage of power as a rusher; doesn't press the pocket at all. 
  • A number of his sacks were more a result of terrible pass-blocking than terrific rushing. 
  • Doesn't make plays in the backfield at a high rate. 
  • Not an aggressor at the point of attack; won't reset the line of scrimmage on the edge. 
  • Stands up and lets run-blockers into him before trying to shed. 
  • Limited closing speed in the open field. 
  • Left a few plays on the field by failing to break down and missing in the backfield. 
  • Struggles to close down space in coverage and cannot be used in man coverage. 
  • Lacks skill set to be a versatile linebacker who can play multiple positions as a professional.
Collegiate Statistics
YearTeamTacklesTFLSacksFFPDINT
2009USC3420130
2010USC7272021
2011USC2942000
2013USC60139040
http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/devon-kennard-1.html

Personal Notes

  • A 5-star prospect as a recruit in the class of 2009 and the No. 8 player nationally, according to Rivals.com
  • Missed entire 2012 season with a torn pectoral muscle and received a medical redshirt. 
  • Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2012 and a master’s degree in communication management in 2014. 
  • 2013 team awards include Most Inspirational Player, Lifter of the Year, Trojan Way Leadership Award and Pac-12 All-Academic. 
  • Father, Derek Kennard, played 11 seasons in the NFL.

Ratings Chart

Graph made at nces.ed.gov.

Overall

Devon Kennard never really lived up to his billing as a 5-star prospect out of high school.  He did take a big step forward in his final season at USC.  The switch to a 3-4 base defense put Kennard in the position his skills are most suited for: 3-4 outside linebacker.  That’s where he's destined to play in the NFL as well.

The lack of any special qualities will hold Kennard back in the NFL, though.  He’s skilled in a variety of things but wasn't a dominant player at the collegiate level and won’t be one in the NFL.  He projects solely as competition for a depth spot on a roster.  In order to lock up a job long term, he’ll have to contribute on special teams.

Draft Projection: Seventh Round

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