Allen Park — Devon Kennard is a linebacker, first and foremost, but the crown jewel of the Detroit Lions’ free agency class is making sure he’s absorbing the entire defense so he’s capable of fulfilling the versatile role the team has in mind for him.
“You know, I plan on playing wherever they want me to play,” Kennard said. “I think it will be multiple and do different things, so however they want to use me. I’m making sure I know the whole defense and multiple positions and I’m ready to do whatever they want me to do.”
As a member of the New York Giants the past four seasons, Kennard has lined up at a number of spots, whether it’s off the ball, on the edge, and occasionally even at defensive tackle. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder feels at home just about anywhere in the front seven.
“I think it prepared me well,” he said. “I feel very comfortable on the line of scrimmage, of course, but I’ve played a lot of ball off the ball as well. So, I feel like I can bring a lot to the table and however the coaches want to use me I’ll be ready.”
In addition to preparing to line up at a variety of spots, Kennard said he also likes to spend times in the defensive line and defensive backfield meeting rooms. That gives him a better understanding of how the defense, on the whole, fits together and helps him and the other linebackers orchestrate from the field during games.
Kennard signed a three-year, $17.25 million contract with the Lions this offseason that included $8.5 million guaranteed. Beyond the financials, he said he was drawn to Detroit by the potential of playing coach Matt Patricia’s defense.
“I’ve watched Matty P’s defense for a long time and it’s one that looks like a lot of fun on film and now I’m starting to learn it and it’s not disappointing so far,” Kennard said.