It's been quite some time since the New York Giants drafted themselves a true impact linebacker, but General Manager Jerry Reese may have found a steal in rookie Devon Kennard, who was taken in the fifth-round of the NFL Draft back in May.
Not only is Kennard built for the NFL right out of college, but he's an intelligent young man who is not afraid to hit. He's also a quick study, and has impressed not only reporters, fans and positional coaches, but he's really opened the eyes of his teammates as well, including veteran linebacker Jameel McClain.
"I think Kennard is very smart. I think he is very smart and physical. I am excited about him. I have seen a lot of good rookies, and he is definitely one of the most impressive young guys that I have seen maturity wise and professionalism," McClain said on Friday. "I gave him a lot of compliments in that one sentence. I usually don’t do that much."
Kennard is not immune to hearing and reading about the hype, but has managed to keep a level head, stay humble and understand that there's still a long way to go before he makes a true impact as an NFL linebacker.
“I think they’re definitely happy with how fast I pick things up, but it’s a long ways,” Kennard told the New York Post. “I still have a lot of things to correct and I’m taking steps every day to improve what I need to do and playing at the level they expect of me and I expect of myself.
“As a linebacker, you have to understand the defense as a whole. That’s what I’m starting to do. I’m starting to understand how the pieces fit together to where it’s easy to kind of go back and forth like this, one day to another. It’s just picking it up and understanding what the coaches want.”
When the shoulder pads were finally put on on Friday, Kennard displayed some of what he learned to the misfortune of fellow rookie, Bennett Jackson, who found himself nearly decleated by the impressive young linebacker. It was the first big hit of camp, which saw Bennett literally lifted off his feet, followed by several other defensive players being lifted off of their feet in an adrenaline-rushed celebration of Kennard's destruction of Jackson.
While it may be entirely too early to call Kennard the "future" for the Giants, with each passing practice it gets safer and safer to say he's bringing a lot more than just hype to the football field.
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Tags: Bennett Jackson, Devon Kennard, Football, Jameel McClain, Jerry Reese, New York, New York Giants, NFL