Switching sides is in Kahlil McKenzie’s future, and not because the Chiefs’ sixth-round draft choice is the son of Reggie McKenzie, the general manager of AFC West rival Oakland Raiders.
McKenzie, who played nose tackle at Tennessee, could very well begin his NFL career as an offensive guard.
“I played offensive line and defensive line in high school, but I was strictly on the defensive line when I got to college,” McKenzie said. “But my dad and uncle thought it would be cool to see me play offensive line, and if I wanted to make that switch I could.”
His uncle, Raleigh McKenzie, was an offensive lineman in the NFL, and that’s appears to be in the plans for Kahlil.
McKenzie has the frame at 6-3, 320 pounds and the agility to switch sides, said Chiefs scout Pat Sperduto.
“He plays with such a strong base, his hands are tight inside, his head is always up, all the traits you look at with him you think he might have a really good shot at offensive guard,” Sperduto said.
Offensive line wasn’t exactly a priority for the Chiefs heading into the draft, but after losing versatile Zach Fulton, they were looking to replenish.
The first draft picks were strictly defensive players, and technically McKenzie makes it six straight. That’s never happened in franchise history.
But after a junior season with the Volunteers in which he came up with two sacks among his 35 tackles, McKenzie is headed to the other side of the line of scrimmage.
“You look at his lower body, massive lower body, he plays with such a strong base,” Sperduto said.
McKenzie said his dad thought offensive line was probably his best position with “my big tree-trunk legs, Dad always said.”
Now McKenzie will line up against the team of his father and uncle, who is a Raiders’ scout, and McKenzie has already fired a salvo in the rivalry after he received congratulations from his father after getting drafted.
“He was really excited for me,” McKenzie said. “And me saying, ‘I can’t wait to whip up on you twice this year, and next year and the next year and year after that.' ”