The Kentucky Wildcats were lucky to have one of the best offensive linemen in the country, Darian Kinnard, manning the right tackle positions for four years.
The 6-foot-5, 345-pound behemoth came into Kentucky as a highly-touted recruit. The former U.S. Army All-American was ranked as a 4-star prospect by 247 Sports and the 247 Sports Composite Rankings.
Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Kinnard chose the Cats over the Cincinnati Bearcats, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa State Cyclones, Maryland Terrapins, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Missouri Tigers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, UCLA Bruins, and the West Virginia Mountaineers, among others.
Kinnard played in 46 career games with 39 consecutive starts at right tackle on the “Big Blue Wall” as he was an essential component for the O-Line unit, recognized for the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation’s top offensive line, four straight seasons, including finalists in 2021.
Kinnard earned consensus First-Team All-American status as a senior this past season, UK’s first offensive lineman to hold that distinction since Sam Ball in 1965, and UK’s 12th Consensus All-American in history. He was also awarded the 2021 Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
As a freshman, Kinnard started two of the team’s final three games at left tackle, playing in nine games overall, before moving to the right side permanently. As a sophomore, he started all 13 contests at right tackle. And as s a junior, he was named a third-team Associated Press All-American and second-team All-SEC selection after starting all 11 games at right tackle.
Kinnard was an absolute anchor for the Big Blue Wall and dominated every time he came out on the field, as you can see from his monstrous PFF scores.
Darian Kinnard led all SEC Tackles last season in:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 20, 2022
PFF Grade - 91.9
Run Blocking Grade - 91.8
Pass Blocking Grade - 87.8 pic.twitter.com/LkpFMTO5Kh
Despite dominating the best conference in America, he does seemingly face limitations with lateral and recovery movements. It’s widely expected that Kinnard will transition inside at the sport’s highest level, which should allow him to carve out a long career. Kinnard is quite simply a mauler and uses his physical advantages to overwhelm opponents.
Kinnard was seeing possible late first, early second round grades as the 2021-22 season came to a close, but, unfortunately, dropped much further than originally expected. Part of that may have been due to controversial political statements he made during the pre-draft process.
Regardless, I think he’ll be just fine, especially with a Chiefs team set to contend for Super Bowl titles for the foreseeable future.
Fun Fact: His aunt is a first cousin of country music legend Dolly Parton.
Let’s wish Kinnard luck as he begins his NFL career. And as always, Go Cats!