Reggie McKenzie kept telling his son that if his Oakland Raiders were going to draft him last week Odell Beckham Jr Giants Jersey
, it would require making the switch from mammoth defensive tackle to bruising offensive guard.
Turns out the general manager’s counterparts in Kansas City had the same idea.
So when the elder McKenzie, sitting in the Oakland draft room, saw Chiefs general manager Brett Veach calling him, a wry smile crossed his face. The most bitter of AFC West rivals were trading up to take Kahlil McKenzie in the sixth round – with every intention of flipping him to offense.
”I told him, `It’s your conspiracy. You did this,”’ Kahlil McKenzie recalls telling his pop, himself a longtime NFL linebacker before becoming a front-office exec. ”He always wanted me to play offensive line. He said I could play the position a lot different, somebody that knows what defensive linemen are going to do and somebody who can move a lot better than a lot of offensive linemen.”
The Chiefs are gambling on precisely the same line of thinking.
McKenzie drew plenty of interest at defensive tackle when he declared for the draft after his junior season at Tennessee. But when the Chiefs showed up at his pro day, they worked him out at guard, and he merely outperformed three other traditional offensive line prospects.
His athleticism and measurables – including his stout trunk and huge lower body – also project nicely to the interior of the offensive line, where McKenzie’s raw power would best be displayed.
”This kid is going to look like a first-round pick. He’s an impressive looking player,” Veach said. ”He’s a draftable talent just as a defensive lineman and he would certainly be on an NFL roster this coming fall if he just played defensive line. But when you watched him at his pro day, he just had such a good workout at guard. It looked natural to him.”
McKenzie played both sides of the offensive line in high school Mike McGlinchey Jersey
, but he was stuck at defensive tackle by the Vols out of necessity. His production wound up keeping him there for three seasons.
Still, one has to wonder what he could have been had he played offensive line all this time.
”The kid has tremendous physical gifts,” Veach said, ”and again, I don’t know exactly how long this will take because he hasn’t played offensive line a long time.”
The task of turning him into a blocker begins Saturday when the Chiefs open a three-day rookie minicamp. McKenzie is expected on the field along with the rest of the Kansas City draft class – all defensive players that are planning to stay on that side of the ball.
”All the things and traits you look at with him, you could see that this kid might have a shot as an offensive guard,” said Chiefs area scout Pat Sperduto, who has watched McKenzie the last few years, and was able to draw comparisons to at least two success stories.
J.R. Sweezy was a standout linebacker and defensive end at North Carolina State, Sperduto said, before becoming a solid offensive guard with the Seahawks and Buccaneers. Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburgh Steelers spent time as a defensive lineman at Army before becoming a standout NFL left tackle.
McKenzie also had the same team-first attitude as Sweezy and Villanueva when it came to the switch.
”I said, `What if we drafted you as an offensive guard?’ He said, `I’d be willing to do anything. I just want to play football. I want to be a good player in the league Cheap Joe Namath Jersey
,”’ Sperduto said.
Even if it happened to be for his father’s biggest rival.
”I got a text from Charles Woodson. He said, `Your son has to retire. There’s no way he’s going to put that red helmet on his head,”’ Reggie McKenzie said. ”Part of me felt that way, but in all seriousness, it’s a good opportunity for him, and I was hoping that he landed at a spot that will kind of grow him to that position. He can play D-tackle but he probably could be special on the offensive line.”
Kahlil McKenzie certainly thinks so. He brashly predicted that he’s going to eventually help the Chiefs ”whoop up” on the Raiders, along with everybody else in the NFL.
”My dad’s happy for me. The rest of the family, they’re happy as well,” he said. ”It’s just going to make for a lot more family rivalries. We’re a competitive family at nature. We compete at everything we do. This just adds one more ripple into that.”
During his first stint in Seattle, Tod Leiweke helped develop the Seattle Seahawks into a benchmark franchise.
He’s returning to the Northwest this time with a chance to build a franchise from scratch – pending NHL approval.
Leiweke was introduced Wednesday as the CEO and president of the prospective NHL expansion franchise seeking to call Seattle home beginning with the 2020 season. The announcement has been expected since Leiweke announced he was stepping down from his role with the NFL earlier this year. But it was another step forward for the expansion bid.
”It’s kind of fun to start from scratch because you can build a culture the way you would want a culture to be built with likeminded people who want to serve, who love the game of hockey. In this, it is a grand opportunity,” Leiweke said.
The prospective majority owner of the franchise Christian Kirk Jersey
, David Bonderman, said he believed there could be a possible conditional announcement about the franchise from the NHL in June and a potential formal announcement in September coinciding with upcoming NHL Board of Governors meetings.
”We hope there is not any doubt about it and it’s certainly not just a formality. However, there is a process with the NHL and we expect to play through that process,” Bonderman said.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, speaking before the playoff opener in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, wasn’t as optimistic, saying there is no set timeline for a decision on Seattle’s expansion bid.
”We don’t have a timetable,” Bettman said. ”That would be nothing more than speculation. I would be surprised.”
While announcing the president and CEO for a team that doesn’t exist yet might seem a bit presumptuous, Leiweke brings the kind of clout that will only strengthen a bid that almost appears to be a foregone conclusion.
Oak View Group, a partner in the franchise and the group responsible for renovating KeyArena, is expected to begin construction on the building later this fall and have the remodel done for the 2020 season. The season-ticket drive that started on March 1 was a rousing success and was capped at 33,000 deposits.
Leiweke got his start in hockey with the Minnesota Wild. He also worked in Vancouver and most recently helped build Tampa Bay into a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. Leiweke left the Lightning in 2015 to become the COO of the NFL and didn’t have any interest in leaving the league office until the project in Seattle began to gain real traction.
”The fact is I found the NFL to be a pretty amazing and fascinating place to work and I was starting to get quite comfortable in my role there so I wasn’t looking,” Leiweke said. ”But I think the stars aligned and my son’s advice was Walter Payton Jersey
, `Dad, how can you not do this?’ Today, I think he’s right.”
Leiweke’s job will be to capitalize on a market whose demographics have changed significantly since he left the Seahawks in 2010 after being largely responsible for the team hiring head coach Pete Carroll. Seattle is the largest market in the country without a winter pro sports franchise and has seen an influx of wealth in recent years. Even when he was running the Seahawks, Leiweke believed Seattle was ripe for the NHL and the response to the season-ticket drive only strengthened that belief.
”It really is a great fit. I always thought this could be a great hockey market and it proved it. So far, so good,” Leiweke said. ”Now it’s on us because I think people are going to show up opening day ready to believe and what are we going to put out there? Does it all connect?”
Leiweke’s hiring also reunites him with his brother, Tim, the CEO of Oak View Group, which created the privately funded deal to finally solve Seattle’s arena issue.
”I’m so in awe of what we did here,” Tod Leiweke said. ”This has been a challenging issue and my brother came in here and figured it out.”