Considering Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s sixth-round status and his other chosen profession — he attended McGill University in Canada, which is a medical school — one might be tempted to think the 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive tackle is closer to being a doctor than he is to being a NFL player.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, who took Duvernay-Tardif, a 6-foot-5, 315-pound, offensive tackle — whose name is pronounced loh-RON DOOVER-nay TAR-Dif — with the 200th selection of the 2014 NFL Draft, would disagree.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“He’s pretty good now,” Dorsey said. “He’s a very interesting fella. He is a gentleman that, when it’s all said and done, will be between 325 and 330 (pounds). I think the potential he has ahead of him is really good.”
Duvernay-Tardif, 23, caught the Chiefs’ eye at the East-West Shrine Game in January.
“He really came onto our radar there,” said Chiefs area scout Pat Sperduto. “You were just like ‘Who, who is this guy?’ ”
The Chiefs also attended Duvernay-Tardif’s monster pro day a few months later, where he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.94 seconds, bench-pressed 225 pounds 33 times and posted a vertical jump of 31 1/2 inches, all numbers that would have ranked him in about the top eight in every category at his position at the combine.
“He’s very athletic, and it’s very rare that you can acquire a player in the sixth round with his athletic traits,” Dorsey said. “So therefore, you take a shot on a guy like that. We brought him in here for one of our 30 visits, and he impressed everybody with his person and depth of football (knowledge).”
Duvernay-Tardif, who officially agreed to a deal with the Chiefs on Wednesday, played in 32 of 35 games in four years at McGill. A former defensive tackle, he bulked up every year and became a full-time starter his second year and never looked back. Duvernay-Tardif, a two-time All-Canadian tackle, was rated as the top-ranked prospect in the 2014 CFL Draft by the CFL Scouting Bureau.
“A year ago, my dream was to play in the CFL and after that, I went to the Shrine game with a lot of adrenaline and everything went really well,” he said. “And at that point, I was like ‘Oh damn, I think the NFL is the place for me to play.’ ”
Now he will be a Chief — though he admittedly doesn’t know much about the American style of football.
“I know a couple things (about the Chiefs), but to be honest, the CFL is the biggest here,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “I know the basics, but I don’t know that much. I’m going to learn.”
Given his history of learning, chances are he’ll do that quite quickly. Dummies don’t go on to become doctors, and that’s exactly what Duvernay-Tardif had — make that, has — plans on becoming.
“I’m in my third year of medicine and have one more year in order to become a doctor,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “The plan right now is that I’m going to be able to do two months per year during the offseason for four years, and I’m going to graduate as a doctor in probably 2017 or 2018 or something like that.”
Dorsey said Duvernay-Tardif’s intelligence will help him on the field.
“I think especially when you play the offensive line, you have to have a degree of mental quickness because (knowing) the stunts and packages and the recognitions and where to slide and where to pick up, that’s important,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey added that while Duvernay-Tardif is a tackle, he has “exceptional” value because of his versatility.
“I would say he could play four positions — left tackle, right tackle, guard,” Dorsey said. “Let’s kind of just work him in to see where he fits best.”
But for all the positives surrounding the selection, he will face an adjustment. Sperduto called the college competition in Canada “a step backwards,” and Duvernay-Tardif seems to know he has a lot of work ahead of him.
However, it’s clear the Chiefs thought Duvernay-Tardif was a football player — not a doctor — worth taking a chance on. Now it’s up to coach Andy Reid and his offensive-line coaches, Andy Heck and Eugene Chung, to help him reach his sizable potential.
“It’s a big swing and we’re hoping for a home run,” Sperduto said. “You’ve got the (coaching staff) that can develop him. They’ll close the gap as fast as they can, and we’ll see how quick he hits the field.
“They know what they’re doing, and they’re on board with it.”