clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chiefs film review: Darian Kinnard has strong foundation as right tackle

The three-year starter in the SEC has experience and size on his side as a potential starter on offense.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

LA Monroe v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The makeover of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line last offseason can easily be looked at as a success. In one offseason, they brought in four starters that appear to be in the mix long-term; left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. is negotiating an extension this offseason.

The fifth spot is right tackle, where time was split last season: Andrew Wylie led the team with 52% of the snaps between the regular season and playoffs, while Lucas Niang played only 37% of the snaps — less due to injury; Mike Remmers filled in for 11% of the snaps, but he is not returning for 2022.

It’s why they sprung on the opportunity to trade back and draft Kentucky right tackle Darian Kinnard with the extra pick in the fifth round (145th overall in this year’s draft). When general manager Brett Veach made the call to Kinnard, he made it clear that position was on their mind throughout the weekend.

“We had one more checkbox that we needed to fill out here before this draft ended, and it was right tackle. So now you get to come a great organization with a great offense and you can help us protect Patrick Mahomes, alright?”

Typically, a fifth-round pick shouldn’t have immediate-starter expectations, but similar to Trey Smith last year, this isn’t your typical, late-round addition to the depth of the roster. I looked into his college film to prove he can compete for starting snaps from the get-go:

College film evaluation

After splitting time between left and right tackle as a true freshman at Kentucky, Kinnard started at right tackle for his last three seasons — playing 2,223 snaps at the position over that time. He allowed only four quarterback hits and three sacks over his junior and senior seasons, per PFF.

Pass blocking

The first thing you notice about Kinnard is how powerful and strong his hands are when he latches onto a defender and wins the initial battle to the chest. He will completely control a player, especially if they aren’t a heavier-set edge defender. It makes sense when you look at his measured hand size: 11.25 inches — in the 98th percentile historically for offensive tackles.

He’s strong enough to stop the momentum of a pass rusher even if his lower body isn’t in the best spot for leverage. His arms can swallow up those lighter rushers, neutralizing swim and rip moves because they simply aren’t strong enough to create separation from Kinnard.

The outside speed rush can get him like it can any taller, larger offensive tackle, simply because it’s hard to have quick enough feet to move that large of a body backward. At times, that understood limitation forces him to overcompensate — which can lead to off-balance hand usage and oversetting, which allows for success on inside counter moves.

He does play from a higher stance and higher center of gravity than you’d like, which can lead to high hands when trying to keep up with a rusher around his edge. Those draw flags, which can be drive killers.

Run blocking

When a run play is called, defenders don’t want to be in the way of Kinnard. He understands how to use his massive frame and strong lower half to move defensive linemen on down blocks, but also has the grip strength to latch onto off-ball defenders and keep them locked up in open space.

That ability to block in open space was utilized by Kentucky because Kinnard was impressive at it. He could be a pulling block, leading the ball carrier through a gap — but was also impressive on screens in open space, not only looking comfortable in open space but having pretty good speed for his size.

It may be why he was projected by some to play guard at the NFL level; The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked him as the third-best guard in the class, while NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had a third-round draft projection on him as an interior player.

With the length and hand size he possesses, it allows him to reach block and scoop interior defenders easier than it would be for someone with his foot speed and shorter arms or smaller paws. That said, he does fire off the ball well — both downhill and to get lateral on a pulling block or reach.

Nastiness

When you think of some of the highlight-reel blocks we see Trey Smith or Creed Humphrey deliver, Kinnard has shown similar energy on tape.

He will go for the extra emphasis on the finish when it’s appropriate, or maybe even when it’s not. Either way, he’s got the foundational strength and pure mass to overpower his opponent in any one-on-one engagement. It might not be as easy at the NFL level, but especially when he refines his technique to use better leverage, he should be able to play with the same bullying fashion for the Chiefs.

The bottom line

The Chiefs need to protect Patrick Mahomes; it appears they’ve done a great job at four of the five starting spots — but you could argue none of the three interior spots are as important as either tackle position.

While they have able bodies like Wylie and Niang with experience in the system, the team should always be working to have the best players possible at the tackle spots specifically. This particular offseason competition will emerge with a worthwhile starter at right tackle, and Kinnard has the foundation from his college experience to be firmly in that mix.