Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Fifth Round: Devon Kennard – OLB/DE – Southern California
This particular selection is one of my favorites considering the depth in the front seven. There was a question that despite signing Jameel McClain and bringing back Jon Beason, that the linebacker position was still a bit shallow and needed a bit of help. Kennard, luckily, is a prospect who experienced multiple fronts at USC, placing him at MIKE, SAM and as a two or three point stance edge rusher. His athleticism is exceptional and he was a proven leader for the Trojans.
Reports indicated that Kennard has started his work with the Giants at MIKE in OTAs. He is expected to be a versatile depth option for them, providing similar flexibility at the linebacker position as Berhe brings to the secondary. But learning the defense as the MIKE will ease his transition to the NFL and help them long term as he learns from Beason.
With almost every linebacker returning from last season, I see Kennard being nothing but a depth and special teams contributor this year. Spencer Paysinger, Jon Beason and Jameel McClain are the likely starting three backers, but Herzlich and Williams both know the defense already and have experience starting. Also notable, Devon has NFL bloodlines. His father, Derek Kennard, was an 11 year veteran on the OL that actually played for a team called the Los Angeles Express, along with the Saints, Cardinals and Cowboys. Note: Devon’s father has a ring from winning Super Bowl XXX.
The biggest strengths Devon Kennard possesses are his football intangibles and versatility. He is a two time USC captain with adequate football skills but immense drive and effort on each snap. If the Giants can put Devon Kennard in a productive situation he might thrive with his wonderful approach to the game of football. Kennard will be a fan favorite in no time.