The offensive line was a weak spot for the Las Vegas Raiders this past season. So much so that the Raiders could use both guards and tackles this offseason, and Kentucky offensive lineman Darian Kinnard could fill either of those roles. He can create rushing lanes and was a stone-wall pass protector in college, both of which he’ll be showing off at the Senior Bowl.
OL | Kentucky | 6’5” 345 pounds | Cleveland, OH | December 29th, 1999 (22.0)
Darian Kinnard went to Kentucky as a four-star recruit and the 22nd ranked offensive tackle in the country for the 2018 class, per 247 Sports. He got playing time and started a few games at both left and right tackle as a true freshman, before becoming a full-time starter and sticking to the right side as a sophomore and beyond. In the Wildcat’s zone-heavy rushing attack and quick passing game, Kinnard allowed seven sacks and 34 pressures in 45 career games — just one and seven as a senior — and earned PFF run-blocking grades over 75 in three out of four seasons, including an 87.8 mark this past season.
- No false steps or wasted movement when getting off the ball, run or pass
- He’s patient, uses good tempo and takes efficient steps when vertical setting to maintain a half-man relationship with the pass rusher to help secure the edge while also not opening up inside rushing lanes
- On 45-degree sets, he does a good job of splitting the pass rusher’s crotch to also maintain that half-man relationship
- Against wide edge rushers, he recognizes that he has time and checks to ensure there’s no threat to the inside before widening to the rusher
- Very good with his hands in pass protection. Consistently gets them to the rusher’s chest and works to reset his hands if he does miss, changes up the timing of his punches to keep rushers off-balance, times his punch well to contact the rusher before they start their move, and he has the strength to get extension on and lockout defensive ends
- Solid act recognizing line games to pass off and pick up the stunting defensive linemen
- When facing bull rushers, his size and strength combo along with his ability to drop his hips allow him to anchor, NFL pass rushers will have problems trying to go through his chest
- As a run blocker, he’s very effective on reach blocks and backside cutoffs by using a bucket step to get a better angle, fighting to get his head on the correct side, and using his very fluid hips to seal the defensive lineman
- He’s very effective with his read step when base blocking on zone runs, taking a short and powerful first step to maintain a base, and being patient to let the defensive lineman come to him instead of lunging and getting out of his tube
- At the point of contact, he has the hand placement and upper body strength to steer defensive ends coupled with a nice wide base to generate some movement
- If defensive linemen stunt, he’s good a redirecting his hands to their side and washing them down into the mess
- He stays tight to the line of scrimmage as a puller and has decent speed to get to the spot
- When working up to the second level, he uses a good pace to get to the landmark without overrunning linebacker and has fluid hips to seal backers and create rushing lanes
Areas of Improvement:
- He doesn’t have very fast feet when vertical setting in pass protection, which could be an issue at the next level even though it wasn’t in college and part of the reason why some feel he’s better suited at guard
- Has a habit of rolling his shoulders and leaning when punching in pass protection, exposing his shoulders to pass rushers and causing his shoulders to be over his toes, leading to potential balance issues
- Lacks the change of direction and reactive athleticism to consistently neutralize inside counter moves, especially on deeper drops/longer passing plays
- While he’s very strong, there isn’t a lot of violence to his punch to stun pass rushers
- When run blocking, he isn’t overly physical at the point of attack, has minimal knee bend and stops his feet on contact, leading to issues getting a push and staying engaged against physical defensive linemen
- He’s not a finisher as a run blocker which also leads to issues staying engaged
- On screens, draws or as the play side puller on pin and pull plays, he lacks the athletic ability to block defensive backs on the perimeter/in space or outside of the tackle box
NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 36th, 2nd round
What position team(s) view as Kinnard’s best at the next level will play a big factor in when his name gets called. If a club isn’t worried about his foot speed and thinks his college pass protection production will transfer over to the pros, he could sneak into the back half of round one. Otherwise, he’s looking at a move to the inside and a Day 2 projection.
The perfect scheme for the Wildcat, assuming he stays at tackle, would be a zone-heavy rushing scheme with a quick passing game, similar to the one he played in, in college. That way an offense can take advantage of his hip mobility and body positioning to create rushing lanes, and he can use more 45-degree sets than vertical. Personally, I’d leave him at tackle until he proves he can’t hold down the edge because I don’t trust that he’s going to be able to move defensive tackles enough to be an effective run-blocking guard.
What do we need to know?
Is his foot speed going to cause issues in pass protection at tackle? While watching Kinnard’s film, I kept waiting for him to get beat around the edge because his feet never looked like they were moving all that fast, but it never happened. In fact, there were very few times when he even got close, which speaks to the efficiency of his footwork. It’s just a matter of how that will hold up against the speedy edge rushers in the NFL.
Fit with the Raiders
Kinnard's fit with the Silver and Black is a tough one right now for a couple of reasons. One, they don’t have a coach or general manager so who knows what the offense will look like, and two, what’s the plan with Alex Leatherwood? The answers to one and two will likely be related.
If Leatherwood is going to stay at guard for the foreseeable future, then drafting Kinnard should be on the table. However, if the goal is to maximize value from the 2021 first-round pick and move him back outside, then I’d suggest Las Vegas looks outside of Lexington, KY for their next offensive lineman.
Quality reach block by Darian Kinnard (RT) on the backside of this split zone:— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 24, 2022
-Loses ground w/ 1st step for a better angle on LB
-Works to get his head inside and cutoff LB
-Gets hands back inside and finishes block with LB on ground https://t.co/SVRa4I3RmE
A clinic in sealing the LB as the 2nd puller on counter by Kinnard (RT):— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 24, 2022
-Stays tight to the LOS when pulling
-Gets eyes to 2nd level and finds LB
-Positions himself between RB and LB, and holds ground at the POA to maintain rushing lane https://t.co/ZhPoFgz3Gk
THIS is how you combo block, by Darian Kinnard (RT):— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 24, 2022
-Aggressive on DT to help RG kick DT inside, which also picks the scraping LB
-Gets a hand on the LB and recovers to get back to square
-Keeps his feet moving on contact and gets a push https://t.co/6mZfsFiDSB
Unfortunately, Jordan Davis ruins this play but this is a beautiful backside cutoff by Kinnard (RT):— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 24, 2022
-Gets off the ball and attacks the 3-tech
-Good handplacement to control the DL
-Flips his hips to create a rushing lane and throws the DT out da club. https://t.co/0ACzsvGgWT
Can't do much better than this on the stunt pickup from Darian Kinnard (RT):— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 24, 2022
-Gets his hands on the edge and recognizes the inside move
-Moves his outside hand the edge's side and has the strength to wash him down and make RG's job easier
-Redirects and picks up the stunting DT https://t.co/6ECs9MRd7N