New Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Keondre Coburn — chosen from the University of Texas with the 194th overall selection in the sixth round of the NFL Draft — almost missed the most important phone call of his life.
“My phone is connected to my tablet,” he explained when speaking to Kansas City media on Saturday, “and it just started ringing. Started going crazy — so loud! I’m like, ‘Man, who is calling me this time?’ Because usually, it’s a family member calling me. My girl said, ‘It’s Kansas [City].’
“I tried to answer quickly.
“They probably thought I wasn’t answering — because my hands were wet, so I couldn’t really swipe. You know how iPhones be. I hurried, dried off, swiped it [and] got on the phone. When he said, ‘This is the Kansas City Chiefs,’ I swear I think I broke down and cried. I can’t really remember.”
Coburn, a four-year starter for the Longhorns, recognizes the opportunity before him.
“Just for me to be a Chief is a blessing,” he declared, “because literally you just won a Super Bowl. All I want to do is help the team win in any type of way I can. Me already coming to a winning team, I can just add my juice into it. And hopefully, we can keep winning the way that they [have been].”
The team’s southwest regional scout Jason Lamb said that despite his size, Coburn can get around.
“He’s a big dude up front,” said the scout. “Strong, powerful, explosive. The thing about him, though: for being as big as he is, the dude can move. He’ll go out there, and he’ll chase the quarterbacks. He can run around and make the quarterback scramble outside the pocket. He’s going to bring a big presence up front — and a lot of explosiveness, a lot of power [and] a lot of strength in his game.”
Most observers will note Coburn’s 332-pound weight and simply see a traditional two-down nose tackle. While Lamb identified that role as Coburn’s best fit, he feels there is potential for more.
“He’s kind of played everything from a 1-tech out to a 3-tech,” said Lamb. “We kind of see him more as a true nose. He’s got the athletic ability to move down the line — doing slants, doing stunts — all that kind of stuff.
“For being as big as he is, he’s got a quick first quick step. I know [Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] and all of our coaches, they’ll definitely use in him a bunch of different ways.”
Coburn says he is ready for any role that comes along.
“I feel like if I go out on the field, I can play well,” he said. “I think nose is probably a little better in my vision because I started like that when I got to college. I’ve played in multiple defenses since I’ve been in college. I can really help a team right now at nose — and if they need to move me... trust me, I’m going to go out there and play.”
Wherever they have him line up, Coburn appears to have a healthy respect for the team’s decision-makers.
“It was a blessing to get that call from the defending champs,” he reiterated. “I get to be coached by Andy Reid — one of the best coaches in the league — [and] play with so many players that I’ve looked up to and watched. The fact that I’m about to be on that team is crazy.”
One of the players Coburn will be joining is Kansas City center Creed Humphrey — a former Oklahoma Sooner. Coburn faced Humphrey in the famous rivalry between the schools.
“He’s a heck of a player,” observed Coburn. “Obviously that’s why he’s [been an] All-Pro center ever since he’s been in the league. I remember after the game — we lost — he came up to me and said, ‘You’re a good player.’
“I was surprised for him to say that. I remember that — even though it was a couple of years ago. The fact that I get to play with him — that I get to compete against him — is an honor. That means I’m going up against the best center in the league for every day I get to practice with the Chiefs.”
Coburn is also excited about joining another Kansas City player — one who will soon be his roommate.
“I can’t believe I’m about to play next to Chris Jones,” said the amazed rookie. “I get to play next to Chris Jones!”