Among the players the Kansas City Chiefs kept for their preliminary 53-player roster Tuesday was former Kentucky offensive lineman Darian Kennard, who was selected by the team in the fifth round (#145 in total) in the NFL Draft last April.
At the time, it was believed that Kennard had been taken later in the draft than he (and some others) had expected.
“All the feedback I got was round two – maybe, at best, pressure on the bottom of round one – and the lowest would be round three,” Kennard told reporters on a phone call after he was selected. But at the end of the day, man? It’s just another Trey Smith attitude.
“I have a lot of things to prove — and a big chip on my shoulder.”
Perhaps Kennard’s reference to Smith – who the Chiefs were able to pick in the sixth round of the 2021 draft mainly because they decided his medical condition was less serious than was generally thought – was unfortunate. Not only did Smith become a regular fixture in 2021, but he also became a player to be reckoned with.
Given this background, it was easy to have high expectations for Kennard. But during boot camp, the 6-foot-5, 345-pound Intervention was pretty much playing with the third string. It appears that rather than competing with Andrew Wylie to become the right intervention at first, he may struggle to put together the team.
“I think the heads of the trust [Geron] Christian and Prince Teja Wanugo wrote more than Kennard, who might need a year of spice – if not move on to an in-house position” Arrowhead Pride Pete Sweeney is at the bottom of the 53-man drop list. “Remember: The Chiefs recently gave up another fifth player — wide receiver Cornell Powell — and he is still with the club. The coaching squad should be an option.”
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Kansas City general manager Brett Fitch said that for Kennard, a move inland is a possibility — if for no other reason than the way the team overall runs its offensive streak.
“When we get men—whether it be through the free agency process or the draft process—we place a high priority on their flexibility: ‘attitude flexibility,’” Fitch noted. “And a lot of these guys are interchangeable. I think when Andrew Wiley brought us here [had] He played a guard role for most of his career. Now he is playing interference. So a lot of these guys have ‘flexes’.”
Fitch acknowledged that Kennard – like many freshmen – had some difficulties adjusting to the NFL. But he also noted that Kennard ended his camp in a big way.
“I think with Darian, he really had a good ending to this camp,” the GM said. “last week [or] A week and a half was fine. I would like to say [that] For starters, it was a change of heart for him. I think he had a chance to play in Kentucky, [which] It was a heavy attack directed at running. I think joining this league, the level of talent is a lot different in terms of what you see off the edge. I know he played for the SEC – so that was a good thing – but I think the talent has changed. [to] The NFL and then going into heavy attack was a slightly different feeling for him.
“I think it took him a while for his feet to get wet – but I think we’re starting to see him turn a corner at the end of the day. [preseason]. And he’s, again, one of those guys who when you start seeing him – [and] Draft pick invested – you want to see this thing through.
“We definitely think he has a lot of upside in both guarding and intervention.”
This is exactly what the presidents originally told us to expect.
“I think we can work with him as the right tackle,” said area explorer Pat Spirduto after the chiefs picked Kennard in the draft. If we need to, we can put him under guard. But I think his number one spot would be the right handling.”
And Kennard — who was destined to become a Kentucky tackle on the left start, but returned to the right when it made more sense for the team to put someone else on the left — already said he would be fine with that.
“For me, that’s all the team needs,” he said in May. “Whatever works best for you – which I need to achieve – I will do it.”
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