Devon Kennard is a physical specimen at 6’4″ and 256 pounds. He’s also what I like to call a “jack of all trades.” Coming off a pretty good year, Kennard showed his versatility being able to line up at traditional linebacker, edge rusher, and 3/5 tech at times. Not only does he play all – he thrives. He will make an immediate impact on this defense.
Kennard was signed to a 3 year deal by the Detroit Lions within the first few days of free agency, safe to say Patricia really wanted this guy. He embodies what Patricia has mentioned he likes, smart and tough. Also, he fits Patricia’s scheme to a T.
Kennard is coming off a decent season of 41 tackles to pair with 4 sacks which led all Giants linebackers. At only 26 he looks to be a focal point for this defense for years to come.
Now, let’s enter the film room.
In the tape I was able to watch on him, Kennard shows a knack for finding the ball carrier. He keeps his head on a swivel as well as good shuffle steps and decent closing speed to boot. He knows how to feel the flow well and has good hand placement when fighting off blocks downhill. But, Kennard is not perfect, he needs to work on coverage and finding his way through the wreckage as well as at times he seems to be too slow.
Now, this is where Kennard really excels. He uses brute force to overpower and out athlete offensive lineman. It seems he never has a clean break on the quarterback but still gets there. His best trait at any position is stopping the run. He also sets the edge very well, while his speed isn’t great, he makes up for it with his power. He does have issues with his pass-rushing technique and should really work to refine his first step. While I don’t expect him to be our primary edge rusher, he will be in the mix.
I expect Kennard to play the JACK role in Patricia’s scheme, and he should thrive there. The Lions have had their issues at linebacker as of late, and Kennard was a great pick up.
But, his versatility will be well used by Patricia, I fully expect to see him I different sets and fronts. Seeing as Patricia has stated before he plans to run a hybrid I presume Kennard will be used to his full potential. Detroit has a new look about it, and Kennard looks to be an important part of it on the defensive side of the ball.