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On the Chiefs’ Draft Board: Western Michigan edge Marshawn Kneeland

5 min read
   

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By: Ron Kopp

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chiefs scheduled a private visit with a dynamic defensive lineman from the MAC.

With the 2024 NFL Draft just over a month away, the Kansas City Chiefs are finalizing their draft board. Bleacher Report’s Ryan Fowler reported one of the team’s top-30 visits was Western Michigan defensive lineman Marshawn Kneeland.

What is a “top-30 visit?”

Although the term implies that the visits are for the most coveted draft prospects, NFL teams are simply allowed a total of 30 in-person visits to facilities.

The Chiefs often use these visits for prospects likely to be available on Day 3 or as undrafted free agents since they will have more control over selecting them than the draft’s top players.

Last year, Kansas City’s eventual second and fifth-round selections — SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice and Stephen F. Austin edge rusher B.J. Thompson — visited the team facilities during the pre-draft process.

Background

Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kneeland was a versatile athlete in high school. In addition to being a game-wrecking defensive lineman, Kneeland caught five touchdowns as a senior. He also had success running the 400-meter dash and high jumping for the track and field team.

Kneeland committed to Western Michigan as a two-star recruit for weak defensive end. After seldom being on the field during his first two seasons, Kneeland became a big part of the Broncos’ defense from 2021 through 2023. He finished his career 12.5 sacks, 28 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and three passes defended.

After earning second-team All-MAC in 2023, Kneeland was invited to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. In Indianapolis, Kneeland is measured at 6’3” and 267 lbs. His wingspan of 83 3/8 inches was in the 90th percentile for EDGE draft prospects historically.

He also recorded a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.18 seconds, which is in the 92nd percentile for his position.

Film evaluation

Kneeland was an all-around playmaker for the Broncos defense — and that means all around the defensive formation. He would typically align on the edge of the line, playing as a stand-up or three-point stance end.

The first thing to notice about Kneeland is his relentless play on all downs. Against the run, Kneeland flies off the snap with a strong punch that gives him initial control of engagements with blockers. Especially against tight ends, he takes control in those situations and plays with high levels of awareness. That gives him the ability to shed blocks quickly and chase down the ball.

That extends to plays where his initial steps put him out of position. Kneeland rarely surrenders in those situations, always finding a way to get back in the mix. That comes with strong counter moves and just overall athleticism for his size.

His pursuit ability shows up as a pass rusher as well. He is relentless, which makes him a good finisher on plays where the quarterback extends. Kneeland has a good change of direction and mobility when he breaks loose through pass protection. That combines with the large wingspan to swallow up quarterbacks trying to evade and get a clean pass off.

That effort is the foundation of his game, but Kneeland also flashes the ability to win straight up as an individual pass rusher. On this first play, he fires out with power, then has a smooth transition to dip around the outside and get into the back of the pocket. That can be built on in the NFL.

On top of that, Kneeland is a very strong option to put over a guard and let him go to work. He has enough mass to bring power with him in a bull rush and the flexibility and athleticism to take advantage of interior offensive linemen’s shorter frames.

How he fits with Kansas City

Currently, Kneeland ranks 59th in The Athletic’s consensus big board. He is a riser; he ranked 71st in the previous update in February.

That would make him a possibility for the Chiefs on Day 2, and he would certainly be a fit. His combination of mass and length will make him a fit on the edge for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but it’s also his versatility that fits Kansas City.

At Western Michigan, Kneeland would be deployed from an off-ball alignment at times, firing into the line of scrimmage with momentum as a blitzer. This gave him an extra layer of playmaking, allowing him to bring pressure from the inside or have the vision to bat a pass down.

On some of those plays, Kneeland made plays in short zone coverage, something Spagnuolo asks of his defensive linemen at times. He is athletic enough to cover space and make plays on the ball. He would be an excellent fit with the Chiefs’ defensive line.

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride

On the Chiefs’ Draft Board: Western Michigan edge Marshawn Kneeland

5 min read
   

#NFLBeast #NFL #NFLTwitter #NFLUpdate #NFLNews #NFLBlogs

#KansasCity #Chiefs #KansasCityChiefs #AFC #ArrowheadPride

By: Ron Kopp

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chiefs scheduled a private visit with a dynamic defensive lineman from the MAC.

With the 2024 NFL Draft just over a month away, the Kansas City Chiefs are finalizing their draft board. Bleacher Report’s Ryan Fowler reported one of the team’s top-30 visits was Western Michigan defensive lineman Marshawn Kneeland.

What is a “top-30 visit?”

Although the term implies that the visits are for the most coveted draft prospects, NFL teams are simply allowed a total of 30 in-person visits to facilities.

The Chiefs often use these visits for prospects likely to be available on Day 3 or as undrafted free agents since they will have more control over selecting them than the draft’s top players.

Last year, Kansas City’s eventual second and fifth-round selections — SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice and Stephen F. Austin edge rusher B.J. Thompson — visited the team facilities during the pre-draft process.

Background

Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kneeland was a versatile athlete in high school. In addition to being a game-wrecking defensive lineman, Kneeland caught five touchdowns as a senior. He also had success running the 400-meter dash and high jumping for the track and field team.

Kneeland committed to Western Michigan as a two-star recruit for weak defensive end. After seldom being on the field during his first two seasons, Kneeland became a big part of the Broncos’ defense from 2021 through 2023. He finished his career 12.5 sacks, 28 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and three passes defended.

After earning second-team All-MAC in 2023, Kneeland was invited to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. In Indianapolis, Kneeland is measured at 6’3” and 267 lbs. His wingspan of 83 3/8 inches was in the 90th percentile for EDGE draft prospects historically.

He also recorded a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.18 seconds, which is in the 92nd percentile for his position.

Film evaluation

Kneeland was an all-around playmaker for the Broncos defense — and that means all around the defensive formation. He would typically align on the edge of the line, playing as a stand-up or three-point stance end.

The first thing to notice about Kneeland is his relentless play on all downs. Against the run, Kneeland flies off the snap with a strong punch that gives him initial control of engagements with blockers. Especially against tight ends, he takes control in those situations and plays with high levels of awareness. That gives him the ability to shed blocks quickly and chase down the ball.

That extends to plays where his initial steps put him out of position. Kneeland rarely surrenders in those situations, always finding a way to get back in the mix. That comes with strong counter moves and just overall athleticism for his size.

His pursuit ability shows up as a pass rusher as well. He is relentless, which makes him a good finisher on plays where the quarterback extends. Kneeland has a good change of direction and mobility when he breaks loose through pass protection. That combines with the large wingspan to swallow up quarterbacks trying to evade and get a clean pass off.

That effort is the foundation of his game, but Kneeland also flashes the ability to win straight up as an individual pass rusher. On this first play, he fires out with power, then has a smooth transition to dip around the outside and get into the back of the pocket. That can be built on in the NFL.

On top of that, Kneeland is a very strong option to put over a guard and let him go to work. He has enough mass to bring power with him in a bull rush and the flexibility and athleticism to take advantage of interior offensive linemen’s shorter frames.

How he fits with Kansas City

Currently, Kneeland ranks 59th in The Athletic’s consensus big board. He is a riser; he ranked 71st in the previous update in February.

That would make him a possibility for the Chiefs on Day 2, and he would certainly be a fit. His combination of mass and length will make him a fit on the edge for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but it’s also his versatility that fits Kansas City.

At Western Michigan, Kneeland would be deployed from an off-ball alignment at times, firing into the line of scrimmage with momentum as a blitzer. This gave him an extra layer of playmaking, allowing him to bring pressure from the inside or have the vision to bat a pass down.

On some of those plays, Kneeland made plays in short zone coverage, something Spagnuolo asks of his defensive linemen at times. He is athletic enough to cover space and make plays on the ball. He would be an excellent fit with the Chiefs’ defensive line.

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride