Kevin Byard, S
School: Middle Tennessee State | Conference: C-USA
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 216 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 4th - 5th Round
NFL Comparison: Antoine Bethea (But he says Ed Reed)
Kevin Byard leads all active players in college football with 19 career interceptions and was a four-year starter at homely Middle Tennessee State, where he garnered first-team Conference USA honors the past two seasons. Kevin was only a 2-star recruit coming out of high school in Georgia, maybe because he only started playing football in eighth grade. In high school he played quarterback and wide receiver on offense and also moonlighted at linebacker and corner on defense in addition to safety. Byard credits this experience in helping him develop his football IQ, which he states is his biggest strength. He also claims he's an avid film studier, constantly reviewing the quarterback's tendencies and the opposing offense's favorite route combinations in order to read plays before they happen.
Byard is listed and built like a strong safety but was tasked with playing single-high coverage in college. On film he can be seen lining up the defense and calling out plays. Byard says he loves football and playing in the NFL has been a dream of his since freshman year of college. His NFL idols are Brian Dawkins, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, and Earl Thomas (no Sean Taylor? Really?).
Asked where he sees himself in five years, Byard responded "I see myself as an All-Pro safety. I don't strive for mediocrity. I don't want average. I want to be the best in whatever league I'm playing in. I see myself as an All-Pro safety and it's something I always visualize. As long as I'm in the NFL, I'll work to be the best in the league."
- Strong football IQ, calling out defensive assignments, reading the quarterback's eyes in zone coverage and understanding concepts behind receiver's route combinations
- Excellent ball skills in traffic helping him snag difficult interceptions
- Always shows high effort on film, never giving up on plays, and states his desire to continually work on his weaknesses and become great in interviews
- Willing to stick his nose in against the run and doesn't back down from bigger, more physical players. Said "I fear no man" when asked how difficult it was to tackle Heisman winner Derrick Henry
- Shows just average ability to choose the right angles and make form tackles
- Lacks ideal height for the NFL, measured in at roughly 5'11.5"
- Average hitter given his thick frame
- Questionable man coverage ability and speed - Byard stated in a CBS Sports interview that he has the confidence to cover anyone, but recognizes the need to work on his man coverage and angle-taking. Scouts expect him to run in the 4.6 range, but Byard stated his goal is to run "a high 4.4, low 4.5" 40-yard dash at the Combine.
How He Fits on the Redskins
I really, really like Kevin Byard and I hope Scot has his eye on him as well. Byard checks a lot of boxes when it comes to safety characteristics the Redskins need to be looking for. He combines good character with an excellent work ethic and has voiced his desire to continue improving and work on his weaknesses. He is a naturally instinctive player that combines adequate size and athleticism with a passion for the game and studying details of his opponent in the film room. Byard is also versatile, showing an ability to shed blocks and tackle in the run game, protect the house in single-deep coverage, and cover receivers man-to-man in sub packages.
The Redskins would need to use a mid-to-late round pick to snag Byard as the projections currently stand, but if he runs well at the Combine his stock could shoot all the way to the second round. Byard would provide depth at both safety spots behind Dashon Goldson, DeAngelo Hall, and Kyshoen Jarrett as he develops - the speed of the NFL game will probably be too much for the Middle Tennessee State alum to immediately contribute.
One player that has stood out is Middle Tenn State FS Kevin Byard. Made a few plays at all levels of the field. NFL needs to find safeties— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) January 28, 2016