Player name: Kevin Byard
H/W; 5'11 212
School / Class: Middle Tennessee State / RS Senior
Measureables: 4.44 40, 38" vertical jump, 9' broad jump, 6.75 3 cone drill, 22 bench press reps
- Ball Hawk - Byard is seemingly always around the ball as his 19 interceptions (four of which were of the pick 6 variety) can attest to. He's a turnover generating machine with a whopping 25 to his credit in only 49 career starts. Also has 612 tackles in his career. The complete antithesis of now former MCM favorite Michael Griffin. A formidable last line of defense for the Blue Raiders. Also has 19 passes defensed.
- Football IQ - He has gobs of it. The defensive general that gets his teammates in the proper alignment. Knows how and when to cut off his backpedal and go for the ball. Has seen the gamut of college offenses throughout his career so he knows the tendencies and habits of an offense like the back of his hand. Byard can rapidly process information and diagnose the play in its infancy. The work he put in as a high school receiver has served him well in the instinct department as he frequently runs the route for the receiver and ultimately gets to the ball first more often than not. Doesn't get fooled by any of the offense's trickery and reads the route tree very effectively. He performed better as a single high safety than I expected (unlike current Titans DB Marqueston Huff, who mightily struggled in that role).
- Work ethic / Character - Excellent. He was the unquestioned leader of the Blue Raiders. Byard molded himself into a star third round pick that blew up during the draft process from being a mere two star recruit coming out of high school. That takes a lot of hard work and dedication to the craft of football. No character issues at all. He was selected to All - CUSA teams every year at MTSU.
- Physicality - It seemed to me that he is happy to make the tackle but won't try to intimidate the opposing offensive players with the home run hit. A willing tackler but lacks the killer instinct to put fear into the receiver coming across the middle. Frequently gets lost in the wash when run blitzing downhill.
- Athleticism - While his Pro Day eased some concerns about his speed and agility, it's still a worry against faster receivers. Solely relies on his instincts and footwork to get him in the right position. I'm not sure if he's able to keep up stride for stride against the faster guys.
Byard really stood out at the Senior Bowl despite the step up in competition. He did well in the team drill portion, even picking off a pass. While watching him, his instincts really stood out to me. It's one of the best I've seen over the years for the defensive back group. In some cases, he looked like he was thinking too much and letting the play develop instead of going after it. He needs to be that physical intimidator / enforcer for the Titans defense.
Yes I do like the pick even more after studying him further. Byard has unparalleled instincts and football IQ that gets him in the right place to make the play even if his athleticism is limited. The good thing is that he doesn't have to start right away for an increasingly youthful Titans defense. He can sit and learn the system from one of the best safeties in Rashad Johnson and DC Dick LeBeau. Position wise, he is a strong safety but can be moved to free safety due to his strong ball skills and the ability to play center field as the single high safety so well. A native son of Georgia like fellow teammates Harry Douglas and Tre McBride. A two star recruit coming out of high school. Joins Chance Warmack and Harry Douglas as Titans with Georgia HS connections.