Among the players the Kansas City Chiefs retained for their initial 53-man roster on Tuesday was former Kentucky offensive lineman Darian Kinnard, who was selected in the fifth round (145th overall) of last April’s NFL draft. ) selected him.
At the time, it was believed that Kinnard was picked in the draft later than he (and some others) expected.
“All the feedback I’ve gotten is the second round — maybe squeezed to the bottom of the first round at best — and the lowest will be the third round,” Kinnard told reporters on a Zoom call after being drafted. “But at the end of the day, man? It’s just another Trey Smith situation.
“I have a lot to prove – I still have a big chip on my shoulders.”
Kinnard’s reference to Smith — who the Chiefs were able to select in the sixth round of the 2021 draft primarily because they determined his physical condition was less severe than was widely believed — was probably unfortunate. Not only has Smith become a starter in 2021, he’s also a player to be reckoned with.
Given this background, it’s easy to have high hopes for Kinnard. But during training camp, the 6-foot-5, 345-pound tackle primarily used the third string. It appears that instead of competing with Andrew Wiley for the starting right tackle, he might even struggle to get into the team.
“I believe the chiefs trust [Geron] Christian and Prince Taiga Vanojo are more important than Kinnard, and they may need a year of seasoning – if not switching to the post,” wrote arrow proud Peter Sweeney is in his final 53-man roster prediction. “Remember: The Chiefs recently waived another fifth-rounder — wide receiver Cornell Powell — who is still at the club. Training classes should be an option.”
Kansas City general manager Brett Veitch told reporters Wednesday that the inside line is possible for Kinnard — if for no other reason than the way teams typically run the offensive line.
“When we acquire players — whether through the free agency process or the draft process — we place a high value on their flexibility: their ‘positional flexibility,'” Veach noted. “And a lot of these people are interchangeable. I think when we brought Andrew Wylie here, he [had] He has spent most of his career playing guard. Now he’s playing tackle. So a lot of people have ‘elasticity’. “
Veach acknowledged that Kinnard, like many other rookies, had some difficulties adjusting to the NFL. But he also noted that Kinnard ended training camp on a high note.
“I think with Darian, he’s done really well in this camp,” the general manager said. “the last week [or] A week and a half is fine.I would say [that] As a rookie, that changed a bit for him. I think he has a chance to play at Kentucky, [which] It’s a heavy, run-oriented offense. I think going into this league, the level of talent is very different from what you see on the fringes.I know he plays in the SEC – so that’s a good thing – but I think the talent has changed [to] The NFL, and then doing the heavy pass offense is a little different for him.
“I think it took him a while to get his feet wet – but I think we’re starting to see him turn the corner at the end of the race [preseason]. And, when you start seeing it, he’s one of those guys again– [and] You invest in draft picks — you want to see through that.
“We certainly think he has a big advantage in defence and tackle.”
After all, that’s exactly what the Chiefs initially told us to expect.
“I think we can make him a right tackle,” area scout Pat Speduto said after the Chiefs selected Kinnard in the draft. “We can have him at guard if needed. But I think his first position will be right tackle.”
And Kinnard — who was cast as Kentucky’s starting left tackle but was moved back to the right when it made more sense for the team to put others on the left — has said he’ll take it of.
“For me, it’s whatever the team needs,” he said in May. “Anything that fits will be the best – I need to make it happen – and I’ll do it.”