Redshirt Senior | Outside Linebacker | 6’3″, 255
Career Stats: 32 starts, 195 career tackles, 26 for losses (with 13 sacks)
Devon Kennard was a force on the Trojans team, both in physical and motivational terms. Ending his college career as a redshirt senior and team co-captain after missing the entire 2012 season with a torn chest muscle injury, Kennard was not only a finalist for the 2013 Lott Impact Trophy (USC’s first-ever finalist for the award), part of the 2013 All-Pac-12 second team and part of the 2013 Athlon-Pac-12 second team, he was also voted by his teammates as USC’s Most Inspirational Player and won the Trojan Way Leadership Award. He made the 2010, 2011 and 2013 Pac-10/12 All-Academic second teams.
Kennard’s strengths lie in his instinctive rushing, muscular build, experience in playing multiple defensive line positions and in his leadership and intelligence. He comes from strong NFL bloodlines; his father, Derek Kennard, played 11 seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys.
Draft critics of Kennard say that he lacks the athleticism and power to be a successful NFL starter. There are concerns that his speed and explosiveness off the line are not overwhelming. Analysts say that, while he is a skilled athlete, he was not a dominant collegiate player and will not be one in the pros.
CBSSports.com and NFLDraftScout.com list Kennard as the 17th available outside linebacker and predict him to go in the fifth or sixth round, 190th overall.
While linebackers do not always carry a premium grade in the draft, a few teams are in the market for an outside linebacker. The Houston Texans, first in the draft order, are one of those teams, but they are expected to go straight for a quarterback. Other teams that may be on the lookout are the Atlanta Falcons, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints. While Kennard has not taken an official visit with the Eagles, there are reports that they met during the East-West Shrine Game and he was heavily recruited by Chip Kelly out of high school.
Wherever he ends up, Kennard may not be an immediate starter, but has definite potential to grow as a player. His professionalism and intelligence will aid where his athleticism may falter, and he will likely become as beloved to any team as he was to the Trojans.