Kentucky OT Darian Kinnard was once viewed as a serious 2021 NFL Draft prospect, but his choice to return for a final season put his NFL aspirations on hold. Now, however, he has the benefit of an open field. After his 2021 season, did Kinnard further bolster his scouting report, and can he rise up the draft board ahead of next April?
Darian Kinnard NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Kentucky
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’4 6/8″
- Weight: 324 pounds
- Wingspan: 83″
- Length: 34 5/8″
- Hand: 11 4/8″
Darian Kinnard Scouting Report
The man who used to line up opposite of Kinnard — left tackle Landon Young — was selected in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. Young was taller and more experienced, and yet, Kinnard very likely would have gone before him had he declared.
Kinnard started games for Kentucky since 2018, and he earned All-SEC consideration as early as 2019. He was a first-team All-SEC selection across three platforms in 2020. Had he declared, his pro day numbers could have inflated his stock even more. But Kinnard — seeking perfection — chose to return to school to further refine his craft.
Did Kinnard take the leap he sought in 2021? What does Kinnard still need to work on, and what makes his NFL Draft scouting report appealing as it is? Let’s take a look.
Darian Kinnard’s athletic profile
This guy is massive. With a unique frame and otherworldly size at 6’5″, 324 pounds, Kinnard is truly an eye-catching draft prospect. He has the reach to swallow up opposing defenders in pass protection. With his size, he has a large reserve of natural power to work with. Beyond his size, Kinnard also has surprising mobility. He moves exceptionally well in open space and has fast, urgent feet moving to the second level.
Expanding more on his athletic traits, Kinnard is explosive out of his stance, and he can close ground quickly. The Kentucky OT has definite torso and hip flexibility, and he also owns a good amount of twitch and stored potential energy in his upper body. He possesses enough short-range burst to adjust for stunts, and his recovery athleticism allows him to make up any lost ground.
Among other things, Kinnard has smooth footwork when matching rushers around the edge, and with his frame density, he can absorb opposing power effectively when his hands connect. The Kentucky OT has solid leg drive when latched onto opponents, and he possesses the requisite grip strength to clamp down on attackers with ease.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Kinnard is a fun athlete, but his athletic upside is further compounded by some of his operational tendencies. Kinnard is an energetic blocker in motion and can drive defenders out of plays with relative ease. He has some definite mauler moments where he puts players in the dirt. With his size, the Kentucky product can dominate smaller players — and his grip strength makes it a laborious chore to break free.
Kinnard has a clear fighter mentality in one-on-one situations, and he’s shown he can strategically target arms to negate rushes, destabilize, and compromise opponents. He can improve his hand usage, as we’ll get into shortly. Still, he’s not aimless in his intent, and his hands no doubt have forceful capacity. Kinnard flashes ability and energy with his hand technique, and when he gets clean contact, his natural power shines through.
Areas for improvement
Kinnard’s athletic profile alone would have generated plenty of interest on the 2021 NFL Draft circuit. Unfortunately, that athletic profile remains the chief defining trait of Kinnard’s profile. He came into 2021 with work to do on the refinement side, and he didn’t quite take the necessary leap in that area.
Most notably, Kinnard’s hand usage has plenty of room for improvement. He flashes promising ability with his hands, but he isn’t especially fast or violent on a consistent basis. He can be more proactive, precise, and authoritative with his approach. Furthermore, his hands don’t always strike their targets cleanly. Kinnard’s inconsistent placement can prevent him from channeling his power effectively. He can also be grabby and penalty prone as a result, and he opens his torso up to opposing power far too much.
Beyond his hands, Kinnard can improve other facets of his scouting report. He sometimes plays with his pads too high, and although he has a wide frame and imposing length, he can lurch at times and sacrifice balance. He sometimes lacks control with his movements, and his feet can be plodding in lateral motion at times.
Additionally, Kinnard can work on refining his positioning. He sometimes tries to exert power before attaining proper positioning. On the opposite end of the spectrum, he can also overshoot blocking angles at the second level. Kinnard sometimes freezes his feet at the beginning of reps, making him vulnerable against speed rushers.
Darian Kinnard’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
You won’t often find an offensive tackle of Kinnard’s size who can move the way he can. He’s an exceptional athlete with an excellent combination of short-range explosiveness, urgency, and width. As one would expect with his frame, Kinnard is a powerful blocker with a potentially dominant amalgamation of physical traits.
Having said this, Kinnard — at this point — doesn’t utilize his traits well enough to outright negate rushers with consistency. He has impressive awareness and urgency as a blocker, but he still needs to improve his hand usage and positioning as he moves on to the NFL.
Offensive tackles use their hands and base to channel their physical traits through to their opponents. If a tackle’s base isn’t properly placed or his hands don’t land effectively, those physical traits aren’t used to their maximum potential. Beyond that, Kinnard can also keep his hands tighter to avoid power rushes, and he can work on better lowering his pad level.
In a way, this makes Kinnard’s NFL Draft scouting report even more exciting. The Kentucky OT has visible athleticism and power on tape. Additionally, he trimmed some weight at the Senior Bowl, and could glean more athleticism from his frame as a result. If he can learn to support his traits better and employ them with increased efficiency, he can be an impact starter at tackle or guard in the NFL.
Darian Kinnard’s Player Profile
Kinnard’s size has always been something that’s set him apart. By his senior year in high school, he was around 6’5″ and listed at 336 pounds. That size often alludes to less-than-stellar mobility and explosiveness. Yet, Kinnard broke the mold by registering a 28.5-inch vertical jump in workouts during the recruiting cycle.
With his combined size and athleticism, Kinnard earned a four-star designation from ESPN in the 2018 class. He was ranked as the 25th-best prospect at the offensive tackle position and was also listed as the 14th-best recruit in the state of Ohio. Kinnard received scholarship offers from several Power Five schools, including Pittsburgh, Purdue, Maryland, Iowa State, and Minnesota. However, a chance to play in the SEC ultimately drew Kinnard to play OT at Kentucky.
Darian Kinnard’s career at Kentucky and NFL Draft ascension
Kinnard came to Kentucky more physically ready than the average tackle. Therefore, he saw action early in his career. Kinnard played in nine games as a true freshman, starting two at left tackle. It wasn’t much experience for the budding star, but he would ride that window of opportunity to a starting role in the 2019 season.
In 2019, Kinnard shifted over to right tackle and started all 13 games for the Wildcats. The stalwart blocker reprised his role in 2020 and started 11 games at right tackle. His play improved a notch in 2020, and he was awarded with first-team All-SEC recognition from Phil Steele and the Associated Press. He earned the same honors in 2021 as well.
All told, Kinnard 46 games, with 39 starts at tackle. It was a productive career for a collegiate tackle, but NFL teams will be asking more of Kinnard at the NFL level. He’ll have to show he can lower his pads and keep his hands tight at the Senior Bowl. But Kinnard’s testing, raw power, and mauler mentality will earn him fans in the early rounds, regardless.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Darian Kinnard
Positives: Large, powerful offensive lineman who can be used at tackle or guard. Patient, quickly sets up off the snap, and shows strength at the point. Anchors in pass protection, gets movement run blocking, and is large enough to completely engulf opponents from the action. Nasty, stays with the action, and works to finish off opponents. Sets with a wide base, stays square, and easily seals defenders from plays.
Negatives: Must improve his blocking balance and do a better job bending his knees. Lumbers around the field and is ineffective on the second level. Must make better use of angles.
Analysis: Kinnard is a large, tough lineman who plays big, strong football. He has athletic and agility limitations but is a perfect fit for a power-gap offense.
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