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Pro-Football Focus chooses Kennard as NFL's "Secret Superstar"


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I have been a huge fan of Kennard since he was drafted by the Giants and predicted he would become a stud LB. Apparently, a few professional analysts and stat freaks feel the same way. Not only is he a physical freak, but he has the quintessential "football brain" that constantly brings praises from the coaches for his understanding of the most difficult nuances of the game. He's a complete footballer.

 

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From NJ.com

 

Despite the outside noise deeming the Giants linebackers as one of the worst units in all of football, the team has one very good reason to be optimistic going into the 2015 season.

 

While two of the three linebacker spots on the team will go to veterans, with Jon Beason and Jameel McClain manning the middle and J.T. Thomas, and Jonathan Casillas in the mix for playing time on the weakside, the strongside spot will likely be manned by one of the few bright spots from the Giants' 29th-ranked defense: Devon Kennard.

 

Kennard, a fifth round pick out of USC in 2014, was limited by a hamstring injury early in the season, and did not crack the rotation as a regular until around Week 7. From then on, Kennard was easily the team's most effective linebacker, and evidently, has become a darling of the popular analytics website Pro Football Focus, who named him as the Giants' "Secret Superstar."

 

By now, you probably know the deal with PFF, which we cite in our articles fairly regularly. They analyze every single NFL player in every play of every single NFL game, and provide a negative or positive score based on how they perform on each play. Their holistic view of the game beyond the superficial stats has helped NFL laymen evaluate players who might not pop out on the screen if they're not sacking the quarterback or catching a touchdown.

 

Kennard is a case of a player passing the eye test, while also having the numbers to back it up. It was pretty apparent to anyone who watched the Giants' defense in 2014 that while the unit as a whole was atrocious, Kennard added a spark when he entered the lineup, especially as a pass rusher.

 

 

(from PFF)

"Kennard led the way statistically at outside linebacker for the Giants. He registered five sacks, and eight total pressures for a 19.1 Pass Rushing Productivity score. His 8.9 Run Stop Percentage topped the unit, as did his 0.65 Yards per Cover Snap, though that may be misleading as he was only targeted nine times. His 23 total stops to one missed tackle (when he fell victim to a DeMarco Murray stiff arm) gave him a 38.0 Combined Tackling Efficiency, which not only topped the team, but ranked third in league among 4-3 OLBs".

 

 

Those are pretty good numbers for a fifth round rookie, especially one who missed so many game reps early on. However, the usual "small sample size" caveats apply here, as Kennard played only 12 games, starting only 6, and many of his biggest games came against some of the Giants' weakest opponents, including the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Redskins.

 

As PFF also points out, Kennard, a defensive end at USC, was not tested in coverage all that much, partly because the Giants did a good job of playing to his strengths. Kennard has good straight-line speed and burst off the line of scrimmage, but it's a different story when you have to drop back and cover the middle of the field, where ball awareness and lateral quickness are more important.

 

But as a blitzing weapon in Steve Spagnuolo's aggressive scheme, Kennard could see a real spike in his pass rushing numbers. If he can get to the quarterback on third down and set the edge with the tenacity he did as a rookie, alongside dynamic talents like Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, the Giants' front seven could end up being a lot better than people think. http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2015/06/who_did_pro_football_focus_name_as_the_giants_secr.html

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I was just named Canada's* Father of the Year!

 

 

*voting restricted to my house

Happy Father's Day Tree...that boy of yours must be getting up there and giving you a run for your money. No better feeling though.

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He's getting big.

 

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Man they grow up fast. Seems like yesterday mine were that age. Now my youngest is 27 and my girls are in their 30's. Enjoy every second of him because you'll blink your eyes and he'll be chasing girls, getting married, and off on his own. I can't even listen to that song, "Cat in the cradle and the silver spoon...", because it hits home too hard.

 

Anyway, he is getting big and he's a good looking kid. Will be a heartbreaker one day.

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Amazing how low Reese's linebacker priority has been, considering how much an impact even one quality linebacker can have on a defense.

 

more like the failure to find a good one, he has drafted plenty.

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more like the failure to find a good one, he has drafted plenty.

 

He's drafted a bunch, but thinking guys in the mid-late rounds will be long term solutions just wasn't very realistic in my opinion.

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Devon Kennard was drafted in the fifth

 

Yes, and it was basically the Law of Averages - after drafting a dozen guys who sucked in the mid rounds, eventually you get a guy who is halfway decent.

 

fwiw, the Kennard pick marked a change of emphasis in the draft room too.....instead of going for a guy who did nothing in the NCAA but possessed crazy athleticism, they decided to get a guy who had a limited athletic ceiling but was a high-producing leader for his college team.

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Yes, and it was basically the Law of Averages - after drafting a dozen guys who sucked in the mid rounds, eventually you get a guy who is halfway decent.

 

fwiw, the Kennard pick marked a change of emphasis in the draft room too.....instead of going for a guy who did nothing in the NCAA but possessed crazy athleticism, they decided to get a guy who had a limited athletic ceiling but was a high-producing leader for his college team.

Greg Jones was like that, though. Herzlich, too. But I know Herzlich was a UDFA.
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Greg Jones was like that, though. Herzlich, too. But I know Herzlich was a UDFA.

 

Greg Jones was a guy who I thought was a decent gamble as a late pick.

 

My point is that when you attempt to fill a position with late round picks, your linebackers look like the Giants ...... one guy (Kennard) who so far had a good rookie year, along with a bunch of washouts.

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Greg Jones was a guy who I thought was a decent gamble as a late pick.

 

My point is that when you attempt to fill a position with late round picks, your linebackers look like the Giants ...... one guy (Kennard) who so far had a good rookie year, along with a bunch of washouts.

Can't argue there. It's been a disappointing group.

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