This must be 'Devon Kennard Day' here at Big Blue View. On the heels of 'Raptor's' outstanding film study of the USC linebacker drafted in the fifth round (174th overall) by the New York Giants, we have more about Kennard via a Q&A with Evan Budrovich, editor of SB Nation's USC web site, Conquest Chronicles.
Here is what Evan had to say about Kennard, the latest in a long line of late-round draft choices the Giants have thrown at the linebacker position in recent years.
Ed: What is his skillset? Is he a run and cover guy, or a run defender?
Evan: At the college level, Devon Kennard was an excellent pass rusher who used size and physicality to wreak havoc from the outside. As his game translates to the next level, he will best be served as a situational pass rusher that can also hold his own in the run game. He will definitely struggle covering tight ends as an outside backer, but he has the football IQ to learn right away and can read offensive line keys very well to positional himself against run fits.
Ed: He has some experience as a 4-3 DE. Can he rush the passer with his hand in the dirt?
Evan: Devon Kennard certainly posted better numbers last season as a 3-4 OLB but he can still rush the passer with his hands in the ground. When he played in the 4-3 back in 2011 (the Monte Kiffin days), USC ran a lot of inside stunts for Kennard and he did a fine job of creating inside pressure on the quarterback. I do agree that he may struggle without elite-level speed to rush the passer with his hand in the ground, but he has shown the tenacity to convert on coverage sacks from a strong secondary.
Ed: He seems injury prone. Is durability an issue?
Evan: While Kennard did miss the entire 2012 season, his health should not too much of a concern heading into the NFL. Kennard played in every game last season and before that, he never missed a game over his USC career.
Ed: What do you think his NFL ceiling is?
Evan: This one is always tough to judge, especially for situational pass rushers, but given the factory of great pass rushers the Giants have had the luxury of raising over the past few years, I'd imagine that this fit would be great for both parties. I feel that Kennard will be a special teams contributor from day one, but will really need to work hard to earn a full 52-man roster spot. Give him a year or two to work on pass coverage and Kennard could become a 3.5-4.5 sack performer, who primarily plays on 2nd and 3rd down.
What say you, 'Beezer Brigade?' Will Kennard end up giving the Giants as much or more than Jacquian Williams, a sixth-round pick, has? Or, will he be the next forgettable late-round prayer at the linebacker spot, a la Philip Dillard?