Before Kyle Peko’s visit to the Chiefs in early April, linebacker D.J. Alexander — a former teammate of Peko’s at Oregon State — gave him some advice.
“He kept telling me, ‘You better be in shape come draft day,’” Peko said with a laugh.
Peko, a 6-foot-1, 305-pound defensive tackle, took those words to heart. Now he hopes to hear his name called during the NFL Draft, which started Thursday and ends Saturday.
“It went awesome, it was a good experience,” Peko said of his pre-draft visit to Kansas City. “I got to meet some of the coaches and see the facilities, which was really cool.”
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Peko said it was the only pre-draft visit he took, but he estimated he spoke to about 12 teams.
“At this point, I feel like I’m gonna get drafted, just hearing from teams and my agent,” Peko said.
Whichever team winds up with Peko will get a player who profiles as a 3-4 nose tackle. At Oregon State, he started 12 games in 2015 after transferring from Cerritos Community College and recorded 45 tackles (4 1/2 for a loss) and two sacks.
“I was a true nose, a two-gap player,” Peko said. “I enjoyed that position, taking up two gaps, eating up blocks for the (line)backers. For me, it’s definitely something you’ve got to get used to, because you’re taking on double teams the majority of plays, but you’ve got to buy into a group effort. I think I was capable of maintaining double-team blocks but also made plays for myself, which was also fun for me.”
But Peko knows you need to rush the passer in the NFL and says he has spent the last few months working on pass-rush moves with defensive line coach Pete Jenkins in Louisiana.
“Our coaches did a good enough job where we learned good pass-rush moves,” Peko said. “Pass rushing won’t be too hard to overcome.”
Peko said he hopes to duplicate the career of his cousin, Domata Peko, a 31-year-old defensive tackle who has spent his entire 11-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
“What better person to look up to?” said Peko, who has also been told he plays like Washington defensive tackle Stephen Paea, a six-year veteran. “And being told that I play like Stephen, that’s always a great complement.”