Draft notes: Reggie McKenzie’s son Kahlil can improve his stock at the NFL Combine


Mark Eckel


One of the more surprising players among the 119 underclassmen approved for the NFL draft this spring was defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie of Tennessee.

McKenzie, the son of former Green Bay Packers executive in personnel Reggie McKenzie, left the Volunteers as a third-year junior with just 10 starts in 31 games over his 2 ½ seasons.

“I have no idea why he came out unless his dad said he was going to draft him,” an NFL personnel man said. “I don’t know what the deal is.”

Reggie McKenzie left the Packers after 18 seasons to become general manager of the Oakland Raiders in January 2012. Kahlil’s uncle, Raleigh, played guard for the Packers in 1999-’00 and now scouts for the Raiders.

McKenzie, 6 feet 2 inches and 320 pounds, played 13 games as a rotational player as a true freshman in 2015 and seven games (one start) in 2016 before suffering a season-ending pectoral injury. He started nine of 11 games last season.

“Actually, he’s going to get drafted higher than people realize,” one NFL personnel director said Sunday. “I think he goes low fourth round.

“He’s got athleticism. He’s got just enough twitch. He has lost weight. He’s going to be quicker.”

McKenzie could enhance his draft prospects by running fast and working out well at the NFL Combine that runs Wednesday through Monday in Indianapolis.

At Tennessee, where his father and uncle played, McKenzie finished with 71 tackles (five for loss), two sacks, one pass defensed and one forced fumble. The Volunteers went 22-16 in his three seasons.

“I gave him a free-agent grade,” said another scout. “He’s got initial quickness and a strong, thick lower body. Out on passing situations.

“He’s strong but he just stands straight up and watches. He doesn’t seem to know where the ball is. Line of scrimmage guy. All power. Never gets off a block. He catches.”

Jalen McKenzie (6-5, 305), Kahlil’s younger brother, will be entering his second season as an offensive tackle at Southern California.

McKenzie began his high-school career at Green Bay Southwest in 2011 and ’12 under coach Bryce Paup, a linebacker for the Packers from 1990-’94. In 2013, he registered 12 sacks for prep powerhouse De La Salle in Concord, Calif.

He didn’t play in 2014 after departing De La Salle for a charter school, where his transfer/request to be declared athletically eligible didn’t pass muster in the eyes of the California Interscholastic Federation.

McKenzie’s weight reportedly ballooned to 354 in January 2015.

“If you put McDonald’s in your body, you’re going to perform like McDonald’s,” McKenzie told The Tennessean in August 2016. “You’ve got to know what to eat, how to train … really just conditioning your mind to be able to take that next step, be able to say no to McDonald’s when you know it’s an easy meal.”

Picks galore: The Packers presumably will have 12 draft choices, their highest total since also having 12 in 2006.

Last week, the NFL awarded four compensatory picks to the Packers for free-agent losses in 2017. One choice was in the fourth round (No. 133), two were in the fifth round (Nos. 172 and 174) and one was in the sixth round (207).

Green Bay also has its own selections in all seven rounds plus what is expected to be a seventh-round choice from Buffalo in an August 2016 trade for linebacker Lerentee McCray. He played 163 snaps on defense and 255 snaps on special teams in 13 games for the Bills in 2016.

A total of 32 compensatory picks were awarded to 15 teams based on a formula centering on salary, playing time and postseason honors.

The Packers lost six unrestricted free agents last year. They were tight end Jared Cook, 78.5% playing time and $5 million guaranteed in Oakland; safety Micah Hyde, 96.1% and $14M guaranteed in Buffalo; running back Eddie Lacy, 12.8% and $2.865M guaranteed in Seattle; guard T.J. Lang, 77.6% and $19M guaranteed in Detroit; defensive end Julius Peppers, 50.1% and $1.65M guaranteed in Carolina, and center JC Tretter, 100% and $10M guaranteed in Cleveland.

In unrestricted free agency, the Packers signed guard Jahri Evans, 87.1% and $200,000 guaranteed. Tight end Martellus Bennett, 37% and $6.3M guaranteed, played in only seven games and wasn’t counted against the Packers by the league.

Cincinnati, Dallas and Oakland also received four compensatory choices. The Packers have been awarded 42 extra picks from 1994-’18, second most in the NFL behind Baltimore (49). New Orleans ranks last with 10.

Free agency approaches: Unofficially, the Packers have 23 players without contracts among the 67 that finished the season on their 53-man roster and reserve/injured list.

Unrestricted free agents (10): linebacker Ahmad Brooks, safety Morgan Burnett, defensive tackle Quinton Dial, guard Jahri Evans, long snapper Brett Goode, cornerback Demetri Goodson, cornerback Davon House, wide receiver Jeff Janis, tackle Ulrick John and tight end Richard Rodgers.

Restricted free agents (two): punter Jacob Schum and linebacker Joe Thomas.

Exclusive-rights free agents (11): wide receiver Geronimo Allison, cornerback Donatello Brown, quarterback Joe Callahan, wide receiver Michael Clark, fullback Joe Kerridge, guard-tackle-center Justin McCray, tackle-guard Adam Pankey, guard Lucas Patrick, long snapper Taybor Pepper, cornerback Herb Waters and safety Jermaine Whitehead.

NFL teams have until 3 p.m. on March 14 to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents and minimum salary tenders to exclusive-rights free agents to retain rights to the player.

The signing period and league year begins at that same time.

Teams such as the Packers that have a returning head coach can begin off-season workout programs on April 16.

UW contingent: Six players from the University of Wisconsin have been invited to participate in the combine.

The list includes tight end Troy Fumagalli; linebackers Jack Cichy, Garret Dooley and Leon Jacobs; cornerback Nick Nelson and safety Natrell Jamerson.

Futures deals: Several former Packers and Badgers signed contracts in the off-season to join NFL teams as free agents at the start of the league year.

The list of ex-Packers includes linebacker Carl Bradford (Bengals), defensive lineman Johnathan Calvin (Colts), running back John Crockett (Ravens), cornerback Makinton Dorleant (Chiefs), cornerback Robertson Daniel (Ravens), tackle Josh James (Bills) and guard Andrew Tiller (Saints).

Linebacker Jayrone Elliott also signed with the Saints.

The list of ex-Badgers includes cornerback Darius Hillary (Raiders), guard Tyler Marz (Bengals), cornerback Sojourn Shelton (Bengals) and safety Dezman Southward (Panthers).

The post Draft notes: Reggie McKenzie’s son Kahlil can improve his stock at the NFL Combine appeared first on Bob McGinn Football.

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