2023's NFL Draft class was loaded with defensive line talent.
It stretched all the way into the sixth round — when the Kansas City Chiefs selected Texas defensive tackle Keondre Coburn with the 194th overall pick (which may end up being the draft's best value at the position).
At 6' 2" and 332 lbs., Coburn brings size and power to Kansas City's defensive line. While his athletic testing wasn't great, he is a strong player with tremendous potential to eventually become the Chiefs' nose tackle.
Let's look at the film:
A two-gap player
It's challenging to find NFL players who can cover two gaps in the defensive line. This requires size and leverage, and the ability to read and react to what is going on in the offensive backfield. But Coburn rounded out a draft class full of players who could do it.
Coburn is more than just a space eater. He can play two gaps with ease.
Coburn two gapping with ease. Crosses the RG's face to take away the B, but then settles back inside to make the play. The guard is two yards deep when Coburn contacts the RB. He saved a potential massive gain. pic.twitter.com/NiBvP74oiR— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) May 1, 2023
On this play, Coburn uses his impressive frame to stonewall the guard at the line of scrimmage while also taking away a lane by throwing his body into the B-gap. After seeing this, the running back tries to go back through the A-gap — but Coburn wipes out both running lanes by quickly shifting his frame. He ends up with a solo stop that prevents a big gain.
While Coburn's frame plays a big part in playing two gaps so well, it's also because he shows some good initial burst off the ball. He won't win any footraces, but beating the offensive line off the snap is more than good enough.
For being a big guy Coburn has some nice initial burst off the ball. Barley even gets lined up, but barges through the B gap. The guard isn't strong enough to reach him all the way. The RB is forced to cut it back, and Coburn throws his weight around in the pile. pic.twitter.com/GK4w9pBsVI— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) April 29, 2023
Before this snap, Coburn is a little late to shift his alignment — but still blows up the play. Coming quickly out of his stance, he avoids the right guard entirely — and then pushes the center four yards into the backfield.
With this much push against this zone look, Coburn takes away all of the outside gaps the running back might have used, forcing him back to the middle of the field. As the rest of the defense rallies to the football, Coburn throws his weight around to ensure the pile goes backward.
It doesn't show up in the stat book, but a reliable defensive tackle who can consistently take on double-team blocks — freeing up teammates to make plays — is a valuable asset for defense. Time after time as a Longhorn, Coburn sacrificed personal gain — doing the dirty work that his team needed to be done.
The RT+RG attempt to double team Coburn, but only manage to turn him and get no movement. The turn takes Coburn out of the play, but takes away the RG's angle at the LB. Big opening, minimal gain b/c the LB is free to make the play. Coburn eats double teams. pic.twitter.com/jjISc3vSUA— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) May 3, 2023
On this zone play, the right tackle and right guard are double-teaming Coburn on the back side, hoping to move him off the line. The guard is seeking to start the fight — and then allow the tackle to come in and take over, so he can work up to the linebacker.
But Coburn locks himself to the ground, stopping both of them in their tracks; they cannot get movement. The guard attempts to angle and turn Coburn, but they still cannot create a push on the line of scrimmage.
While they do turn Coburn, it takes the guard off his angle. The guard cannot come off on the linebacker who flies in to fill the forming opening and bring down the running back.
Coburn was nowhere near the end result of the play, but he created it.
Taking on double teams is important in any run play, but it is extremely important in short-yardage plays.
Coburn had the range to play a 1-technique, a 2-technique, 3-technique and a 0 nose while at Texas. When Texas needed to hold the line of scrimmage, Coburn was typically the man lined up as the 0.
4th and inches. Coburn in a 0 nose. C+RG work a combo, but get no vertical movement. The RB is trying to press to the play side A, but has to cut into the backside B. Coburn gives up no movement, and the RB trips on the OL's feet who were struggling to gain leverage on the double pic.twitter.com/G26mUOzT5X— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) May 3, 2023
On a game-changing play, Coburn knows he is about to be double-teamed, but he still manages to hold the line enough not to give up any movement. Not only does he hold the line, but his presence also helps take away where the running back is looking to go and forces a cut.
The back makes his cut but is tangled up in the feet of the offensive line. The right guard and center were straining to move Coburn, but they couldn't out-leverage him. As their feet flail behind them, the back is tripped, and it's a turnover on downs.
A lack of length will limit what Coburn can do as a pass rusher, but he will use brute force to find the quarterback every now and then.
Coburn just overpowering the RG. The bull rush and push cause the RG to turn his hips, giving Coburn an easy lane to the QB. Fully extends his arms to create separation and fights through the block for the sack. pic.twitter.com/6Rlek2O9Vr— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) May 3, 2023
Firing off the ball, Coburn creates leverage, and bullrushes his way through the guard to the quarterback, doing a great job of shimmying his way to the quarterback's ankles to ensure he would not escape the pocket.
While Coburn will likely not play a high number of reps on passing downs, he will see single blocks on the plays that he is in the game. Teams will put most of their emphasis on double-teaming Chris Jones, which could leave Coburn with some chances to crush the pocket.
The bottom line
While the traditional nose tackle has been devalued over time, the Chiefs still value the position highly in Steve Spagnuole's defense. They were able to find a quality player with Coburn.
He will never have the greatest stat line, but he will be a constant force along the interior that will always need to be accounted for.
Finding players to make a roster in the late rounds of the draft is hard. Finding a player who can make a consistent impact is even more difficult.
The Chiefs might have struck gold again with Coburn.