Keke yet another casualty of the 2019 Draft Class

Just three of the seven selections remain only two years later.

 

 

 

 

In a perfect world, NFL GMs would hit on all their draft picks and they'd all turn out to be future Hall of Famers. Unfortunately, only the best of them hit on slightly less than half on any given year. Kingsley Keke came out of Texas A&M in 2019 oozing with potential, but unfortunately that potential never materialized itself on the field. Keke would have games were he'd be a force on the defensive line, but those impressive performances would be followed by a succession of outings where he seemingly disappeared or was irrelevant in the battle in the trenches. 

What possibly went wrong? Why couldn't Keke put it all together?

When I analyzed Keke at Texas A&M, he had all the makings of a good 4-3 Defensive Tackle. Former Aggies Defensive Coordinator and now Head Coach at Duke Mike Elko ran an elaborate 4-2-5 base shell. Keke, who originally was around 320 lbs, dropped to nearly 280 in a bid to play not only Tackle, but Defensive End as well. With plus athleticism, and better than good power, Keke was able to create problems for opposing offenses at any position on the defensive line. 

I think what plagued Keke at the pro level and particularly in the Packers defensive scheme was his lack of length. Dean Lowry, is heavier(296) and longer(6'5) than Keke's compact frame, so while Keke was the better athlete, Lowry's length and power allowed him the ability to make splash plays in situations where pehaps Keke likely couldn't. There were often times in the game where I felt Keke was stonewalled and/or negated because he couldn't find his way around lengthier Offensive Tackles, having to rely on his athleticism to possibly make a "quick getaway" into the offensive backfield. 

While Keke may not have worked out in Green Bay, I do feel his NFL career is far from over, and he can find success in an even front where he has a little bit more help and the ability to allow his athleticism to overwhelm his opponents....let's just hope it isn't a team the Packers might face in the NFC Championship Game or the Super Bowl.

 

UPDATE (1/21): Keke was claimed by the Houston Texans off waivers. Although the Texans fired HC David Culley, Lovie Smith remains the Defensive Coordinator. Smith, who Packers fans should be familiarized with from his Head Coaching tenure with the Bears from 2004 to 2012. Lovie runs a 4-3 defense out of a "Tampa 2" shell.

What's also a worthy note is the Texans weren't the only 4-3 defense looking to make an addition....the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers Divisional Round opponent tomorrow night, had also put in a waiver claim on Keke but lost out due to the Texans' higher position on waivers processing. Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who was a defensive star for the Texans not even a decade ago, also runs a 4-3 defense within a base Cover 3 shell. With defensive star Nick Bosa banged up going into the matchup, Keke likely would have been a great rotational piece along the Niners front, if not at least a walking encyclopedia on the Packers defensive scheme.

Joseph has been an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers since 1997, citing an affinity for dairy products during his childhood and his favorite color, green. Born in Jacksonville, FL, Joseph currently is an Active Duty servicemember in the U.S. Armed Forces. Joseph considers himself a lifelong fan of the game of football, competing since his youth well into adulthood. When it comes to the Pack, Joseph is particularly impassioned about the NFL Draft and collegiate scouting process, and will contribute regularly on CHTV.com leading to that year's upcoming Draft.

NFL Categories: 
9 points

Comments (36)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
packer132's picture

January 19, 2022 at 07:53 pm

Joseph: Good insight about Keke, and thank you for your service. I think it was an attitude issue, as Clark said he had a long talk with him. He was a healthy scratch the last two games, and LaFleur said in a presser that it was a personal issue. He very well could land on another team next year, though the weight loss could be negative for him. He had a couple of good games and then would do nothing. Let's beat the 49ers!

11 points
12
1
JosephR's picture

January 19, 2022 at 11:07 pm

I did read about Kenny's comments, but I wanted to keep it from a purely football perspective. I do think Keke might have been frustrated with either his either in-game usage, or he may have been feeling the pressure from the coaches to perform better.

0 points
2
2
Minniman's picture

January 20, 2022 at 12:14 pm

A similar thing happened to Mike Neal a couple of years ago - they wanted him to trim down to be a hybrid DE\OLB and it too didn't pan out.

0 points
0
0
Packerlifer's picture

January 19, 2022 at 08:27 pm

"HE HAD ALL THE MAKINGS OF A GOOD 4-3 DEFENSIVE TACKLE." So why did the Packers, a 3-4 team, take him and try to make him a 3-4 end?

Was the problem trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole? Some Packer coaches are going to come in for some heat if he goes elsewhere, to a 4-3 team, bulks up some, and becomes an impact dt.

1 points
5
4
JosephR's picture

January 19, 2022 at 11:12 pm

You know, if you look at the Packers Draft History, this wouldn't be the first time the Packers have attempted to remold a defensive player in the the front seven. At least in the case of Keke, he was only a 5th Round Pick. Datone Jones as the 26th Overall Pick back in 2013, was a much costlier experiment.

9 points
9
0
Houndog's picture

January 20, 2022 at 06:27 am

JosephR,
Talking about costly?
Think Justin Harrell, 16th O/A pick, 2007!
Think Derek Sherrod, 32 O/A pick, 2011!
Think Titanic!

3 points
3
0
dblbogey's picture

January 19, 2022 at 09:47 pm

" Just three of the seven selections remain only two years later."

Class of 2019 has played 3 seasons.

3 points
3
0
JosephR's picture

January 19, 2022 at 11:14 pm

That's a great observation, while it's been roughly a little more than two calendar years, there have been 3 seasons of football that have been played. Call me the Negative Nancy, but I opted for a wording that made the situation possibly sound worse than it really is.

2 points
2
0
Tedlyflyfisher's picture

January 20, 2022 at 01:07 am

So, who are the 3 who remain on the roster. Seems odd not to list them.

1 points
2
1
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 20, 2022 at 03:30 am

Gary, Jenkins and Savage, which means it was a pretty good draft class.

9 points
9
0
GregC's picture

January 20, 2022 at 04:14 am

Interesting observation about Keke being a better fit as a DT in a 4-3 scheme, rather than a 3-4 end. At 6'3", maybe he is too short for the position he played on the Packers. On the other hand, it does not look like he was cut for lack of performance. Something is going on with him. Maybe a mental health issue or some kind of personal tragedy. I thought his performance was okay for a fifth round pick: not consistent, but with some flashes. It's a shame to lose him right before the playoffs. He was at least their 4th best defensive lineman, and better than Lancaster as a pass rusher. And I thought he might still improve.

4 points
5
1
Houndog's picture

January 20, 2022 at 06:33 am

GregC,
Wasn't Mike Daniels only 6'-0 or maybe 6'-1"?
He did alright for himself until injuries got the best of him.
And, I can't remember, but I don't think B J Raji was real tall either.

3 points
3
0
Minniman's picture

January 20, 2022 at 12:22 pm

Yep, and Mike Daniels success was that he was an uncomfortably short matchup - a la Mike Tyson, he packed the same power into a smaller frame and could out-leverage the tall timbers by being too short for them to chest punch and control.

He had first step quickness, which meant that he normally got to engage first, as well as having the lower (better) leverage.

2 points
2
0
GregC's picture

January 20, 2022 at 06:26 pm

Fair point, but there are exceptions to every rule. Daniels had an unbelievable motor and a nasty attitude. He was able to overcome his lack of length, at least for awhile. After six good years, he started to get banged up, and he was never a difference-maker after that.

1 points
1
0
jannes bjornson's picture

January 20, 2022 at 08:06 pm

Johnny Randall, Multiple All-Pro, HOF, pushing 6.75 and 290-300 range, solid muscle, solid Heart.

0 points
0
0
JosephR's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:23 pm

In his heyday, Mike Daniels was considered one of the strongest players in the league, period. When you have a guy that is that strong in a small frame with some athleticism, the opposing offensive tackles toppled like Jenga blocks. To put it frankly, Keke wasn't even in the same continent for strength compared to Daniels.

0 points
0
0
Savage57's picture

January 20, 2022 at 05:49 am

The times I saw Keke on the field, I saw a guy who was usually stymied by single blockers and overwhelmed by double teams,

As an interior lineman, he couldn't anchor and shed, unlike the guy next to him, Kenny Clark.

4 points
4
0
HarryHodag's picture

January 20, 2022 at 08:12 am

When a rookie(Slaton) gets more reps than a veteran I imagine that causes hurt feelings. Prior to one of the biggest games for the Packers in years it's best to cut him loose as they have players to cover the snaps.

4 points
4
0
Leatherhead's picture

January 20, 2022 at 08:56 am

Keke has been part of the Fearsome Foursome....Clark, Lowry, Lancaster, Keke....for three years, during which time we've fielded an above average defense and won quite a few games.

The timing of his release....right before the playoffs....indicates to me that the team didn't want him around anymore, and that almost always signals that it was an attitude issue. I don't know what happened, but he went from being in the regular rotation, to being a healthy scratch, to being released from the team all in a stretch of less than a month. That doesn't happen unless there's underlying issues.

4 points
6
2
Leatherhead's picture

January 20, 2022 at 08:56 am

Keke has been part of the Fearsome Foursome....Clark, Lowry, Lancaster, Keke....for three years, during which time we've fielded an above average defense and won quite a few games.

The timing of his release....right before the playoffs....indicates to me that the team didn't want him around anymore, and that almost always signals that it was an attitude issue. I don't know what happened, but he went from being in the regular rotation, to being a healthy scratch, to being released from the team all in a stretch of less than a month. That doesn't happen unless there's underlying issues.

-2 points
1
3
Guam's picture

January 20, 2022 at 10:56 am

Spot on summary LH. He was either butting heads with the coaching staff or he didn't want to play football anymore. If he shows up on someone else's roster next year, we will know which it was.

3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

January 20, 2022 at 08:09 pm

I don't believe Deacon Jones would approve of your capricious usage of his group's Brand Name.

0 points
0
0
Ferrari-Driver's picture

January 22, 2022 at 10:40 am

That "Fearsome Foursome" comment made me laugh.

It would probably get a chuckle out of Rosie Grier, Larmar Lundy, Merlin Olson, and Deacon Jones as well.

2 points
2
0
stockholder's picture

January 20, 2022 at 09:14 am

Concussions. That has every thing to do with it. This actually was a better move then drafting him.

3 points
3
0
mnbadger's picture

January 20, 2022 at 12:57 pm

If it was a concussion issue, he should get a medical settlement of some sort. Bad concussions are life changing, not an attitude thing or mental health. I wish him the best. GPG!

1 points
2
1
Coldworld's picture

January 20, 2022 at 02:31 pm

There is a difference between a current concussion and the lingering risks of recurrence or health projections. He’d cleared the concussion protocol, so no injury settlement as he was active.

0 points
0
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:08 pm

CW has it right. He cleared the concussion protocol, so no settlement in the sense most think. I suspect Keke feels he is susceptible to concussions and fears CTE. The most he can expect is a worker's compensation settlement, which would be in the player benefits section of the CBA and not a cap-related expense.

0 points
0
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 20, 2022 at 10:02 am

At least it was the back of the 2019 draft that flopped and not the front of it.

4 points
4
0
stockholder's picture

January 20, 2022 at 10:12 am

I wouldn't rule Savage as a success. Gary was a gamble. And he still is not considered ahead the Smiths yet. Jenkins is his best pick. And the injury could wreck his status. Summers will be leaving next. And I think that MVS, Brown and Burks won't be here next year either.

3 points
4
1
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:10 pm

Gary is ahead of Preston Smith. I'd want to watch Z play to remember his value fully, but I would not put Z ahead of Gary's current level of play. I think Gary has surpassed Z's best play already and I expect Gary to get better.

1 points
1
0
Coldworld's picture

January 20, 2022 at 11:42 am

I suspect this has nothing to do with ability but with some other happening, quite possibly related to concussion history.

0 points
1
1
flackcatcher's picture

January 20, 2022 at 04:55 pm

Packers have a history under both McCarthy and now Lafleur in pushing for clearance in gray area cases. This medical staff has become even more conservative in clearing players, giving what is known about the long term effects of PCS. McCarthy, in his later years as HC deferred to the Packer Medical staff. It is still too early to make a judgement on Lafleur.

-1 points
0
1
Minniman's picture

January 20, 2022 at 12:36 pm

A question Joseph - didn't Keke's position normally line up against guards? He normally played on the right of the defense, and at least this year, had Preston lined up outside him (opposite the LT - and TE)

As we've seen with Jenkins, the designation of G or T means little to their quality of play, so I'm not sure if the primary issue was his physical measurements over his consistency.

Maybe, as others elsewhere have opined, Merciless and Z are closer to returning fully healthy than first thought and the roster spot is needed. Sure, they play a different (albeit related) position, but with 6 starters coming back, the roster spots need to be opened up for them to return.

3 points
3
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:12 pm

Fair enough. Keke is on a rookie contract for 2022. No way they release him if they think he will play 17 games in 2022.

1 points
1
0
JosephR's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:31 pm

In the Packers 3-4 scheme, Keke normally lined up in the "C" Gap, so he was in between a Guard and a Tackle. Depending on whether there was a designed blitz, crash, or stunt called, Keke often had to take on two offensive linemen. To do this successfully you need several different things, power, athleticism, hands, and a plan. Keke in my opinion had plus athleticism, above average power, average hands, and a bad rush plan. Going against two linemen, you need to be at least above average in all four categories to be regularly successful.

I don't want to say with certainty, but I would wager that if you look at most of Keke's splash plays, it was in a sub-package with 4 down linemen; or Kenny, Dean, or a LB had broken through already and Keke just played clean up. He's much better suited to a 4-3, and that's why he's now on a 4-3 team.

0 points
0
0
Packerlifer's picture

January 22, 2022 at 07:20 am

0 points
0
0