Derrick Kindred's season might have been defined by an image that he wasn't in.
The Boykin emoji face took off on the internets, but it's the hit that deserved the attention. That hit. The straight shoulder to the chest that put the Iowa State player on his back so quickly that he probably didn't even realize what had happened. That hit. With a shoulder that we later learned had been fractured in fall camp leading the way. That hit. That came at a moment in the game where the Frogs had been struggling on the road, in a game they had to win, that changed the momentum and made sure his team was victorious. That hit. Not unlike his pick six against Kansas State, that saved the game and the season, Kindred made a play when his team needed it most. He just has that 'it' factor.
Leading up to the Combine, the biggest questions surrounding the man nicknamed "Peanut" by Trevone Boykin were surrounding his size and speed. He measured as expected, at 5'10" and 207, but outperformed projections by running a 4.50 40 yard dash. Where he truly impressed was off the field, after it was revealed during the lead up to the Alamo Bowl that he had broken his collar bone three days before the season began. That toughness leapt of the page for scouts, and kept his name in the news cycle while he was in Indy. It also made him an intriguing special teams prospect; a player who could make an immediate impact on the return teams and possibly develop into a rotational player down the line.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com: "There's toughness, and then there's Derrick Kindred. During the 2015 Alamo Bowl press conference, he stated he broke his collarbone three days before the start of his senior season, but decided to play through the injury. It's difficult enough to play a thumper at the safety position, which Kindred is, with a mostly healthy body. But to be a first-team All-Big 12 defensive back with 87 tackles, 3.5 for loss, two interceptions and three pass breakups -- well, that's pretty impressive."
Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com: "Kindred has above average straight-line speed for the position, which shows on kickoff and punt coverages, but he plays with some stiffness and struggles to anticipate routes. Although his coverage limitations lowers his pro ceiling, Kindred has the grit and competitive nature to make a roster as a back-up and special teamer."
So where does a tough as nails thumper with off the charts intangibles and below average measurables fall in the draft?
Most project DK to fall to the third day of the draft, somewhere between the fifth and seventh rounds. I get the feeling someone has fallen in love with him as a prospect, and is going to pull the trigger early on day three. I really like him as a fit on a couple different teams - the Raiders, the Bills, the Chargers, the Cardinals, and the Rams. Each have prioritized football IQ, leadership, and toughness in their recent draft picks. Each have coaches on the defensive side of the ball who have given players like Kindred the opportunity to succeed. And each have needs in the secondary as far as depth is concerned. In the fifth round, the Raiders could scoop him up with pick 154, and the Cards and Chargers both have compensatory picks at the end of the round. One other team to watch? New England, who holds the last pick of the sixth round. Belichick has employed several Horned Frogs in the past, and has had nothing but praise for Gary Patterson's program over the years.
DK may be a bit of a project, as far as the NFL is concerned, but there's no doubt in my mind that the toughest Former Frog will find a way.