On Wednesday, former Missouri Tiger Yasir Durant spoke to reporters for the first time since he joined the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 6-foot-7, 330-pound tackle — who grew up in Philadelphia — spent almost three seasons anchoring the left side Mizzou’s offensive line after transferring from Arizona Western Community College. He started 33 of his last 34 games as a Tiger
Even though Durant was given a fourth-round grade by the Arrowhead Pride Nerd Squad in our 2020 KC Draft Guide, the big man wasn’t selected in the 2020 NFL Draft last month — but the Chiefs were more than happy sign him as an undrafted free agent. He is now one of four rookie offensive linemen on the Chiefs’ roster.
General manager Brett Veach said that the team expects Durant to be most useful at guard.
“Certainly, [Durant] is a local guy that we got to watch a lot,” said Veach in his post-draft press conference. “He played a bunch of tackle, but we do think that sliding him to guard might be his best position. Any time you can get a couple 6’6” guys inside there protecting Patrick Mahomes, [it] will be beneficial.”
Though he considers tackle to be his natural position, Yasir (pronounced YAH-seer) is ready for whatever the team needs.
“I’m very comfortable [with going position to position].” he told reporters. “I spent time at guard at JuCo. I spent time at right tackle. I spent time at left tackle. So I’m pretty comfortable with switching inside [or] going back outside. I’m very comfortable with that.”
Durant said that before the draft, he had plenty of contact with the Chiefs, speaking online with offensive line coach Andy Heck and assistant special teams coach Andy Hill — whom he knew from Hill’s time at Missouri. But the main attraction was head coach Andy Reid.
“I’ve been an Eagles fan since I was younger,” he explained. “I remember watching the Super Bowl — and they lost. I watched every Eagles game that i could. I loved the Eagles — and the coach Andy Reid was. So [it] appealed to me to sign with the Chiefs.”
Durant said that after growing up in Philadelphia and spending time in Arizona, he immediately fell in love with Missouri — and more specifically Columbia. So he’s happy to have his professional career begin a couple of hours down I-70. And he’s already developed a relationship with former Chiefs Hall of Fame guard Will Shields.
“He was our Hall of Fame coach at the East-West Shrine game, so working with the offensive line, he gave us his tips — gave us stuff we can use in our game,” said Durant. “It was a blessing. I was honored to be around him and have conversations with him. So we kind of started our relationship there. Then seeing him at the Combine. [I was able to] talk to him a little bit there.”
But Durant denied that his relationship with Shields had anything to do with the Chiefs signing him.
“As far as him being connected with [my] signing with the Chiefs,” he said, “there was no connection there. He’s just a good mentor for me to have.”
If past experience is any guide, Shields will continue to be a mentor to the young Chief — who has to start his pro career at a computer screen instead of a practice field. But he said he’s been adjusting to it all right.
“It’s been good,” he said. “Just asking questions — because you’re not there on the field, practicing reps — but just me being able to ask questions, get information and study the playbooks [and] study the install. You know that’s always going to be a big part.”
Durant acknowledged that going undrafted will always be with him.
“It will always be in the back of my head — just knowing that I didn’t get drafted. But at the end of the day, that’s the pass. What matters is now — what I do with it now. No matter if [I’m] drafted first round or undrafted, it really doesn’t matter. I’m just blessed to be here.”
That should be welcome news to his mother Sharelle, who reportedly forced Durant to play football after Al Crosby — the head football coach at Philadelphia’s Imhotep Institute charter school — had called to say he believed her son had the talent to play.
“I wouldn’t say forced,” said Durant, “but she had a big part of [me] playing football. [She wanted me to] do something positive with my life — wanted me to make an impact, to not be just another guy in Philly. That was the big part. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without her.”