LIONS INSIDER

Kennard takes pride in his versatility

Posted May 15, 2018

Linebacker Devon Kennard takes pride in his versatility, which should make him a great fit for the Lions.

Speaking to the media Tuesday, new Lions linebacker Devon Kennard was asked what his favorite thing to do on the football field was.

“A combination of everything,” he said.

It appears Kennard is in the right place in Detroit.

New head coach Matt Patricia is planning on being very multiple with his defensive schemes, and a player like Kennard, who likes to wear a number of different hats, seems to be an ideal fit.

“I’m a smart football player, and I take pride in that,” Kennard said. “Learning multiple positions and different roles, I think that’s fun. I think most of the guys on the defense feel the same way and are ready to step up to that challenge.”

The linebacker position plays a vital role in Patricia’s defense, which is why Patricia said this offseason he tends to gravitate toward the position group. It’s also the reason why the linebackers sometimes attend defensive line and secondary meetings as well as their own.

“We have to run the show as the linebackers,” Kennard said. “We have to coordinate sometimes with the DB’s meeting and sometimes with the d-line and I think having that continuity with the whole defense at linebacker is really important.”

Kennard has experience over the last four years with the Giants playing off the ball in space as a SAM linebacker in their 4-3 scheme. But he also played a fair share at the line of scrimmage in sub packages and rushing situations, so that’s an element to his game as well.

“I think it prepared me well,” Kennard said of his hybrid role in New York’s defense the last four years. “I feel very comfortable at the line of scrimmage, of course, but I’ve played a lot of ball off the ball as well. I feel like I can bring a lot to the table, and however the coaches want to use me, I’ll be ready.”

Kennard (6-3, 260) played in 52 games (35 starts) in his time in New York. He finished last season with 41 total tackles (24 solo), four sacks, two passes defended and one fumble recovery. 

“I think just in general there were a couple guys there in free agency linebacker-wise that maybe with my background and kind of where some of the different schemes that I’ve used in the past, multiplicity and guys being able to play on the line of scrimmage, off the line of scrimmage, bigger type of guys that can take on different types of blocks (fit better),” Patricia said earlier this offseason about playing linebacker in his scheme.”

Kennard says playing the edge in multiple schemes isn’t as difficult as some would make it out to be.

“Setting the edge is setting the edge,” he said. “Pass rushing is pass rushing. Dropping in coverage from the line of scrimmage is dropping in coverage. It doesn’t make a huge difference.”

But playing the edge in multiple fronts does require football intelligence and position versatility, which Kennard has. For those reasons, Detroit targeted him very early in the free agent process, and he’ll have an opportunity to be an important part of the defense.