The Best of Byard is Yet to Come
Kevin Byard’s sophomore season could pay huge dividends in the success of the Tennessee Titans. Byard’s determination, preparation, and instincts will put him in position to make big plays in the secondary.
A big season from Byard – in combination with the production of the 52 other soldiers on the squad – could produce a division championship and end the Titans playoff drought. A deep playoff run is possible – but how deep will be linked to the success of Byard and the Titan’s secondary.
Byard’s high character, football acumen, and background are the three reasons I believe he’s due for a big season and a stellar career. A student of the game, Byard will never be unprepared. He prides himself in his preparation. In his eyes, no moment is too big.
“I don’t really feel any pressure. Pressure is just about being prepared for the moment. My preparation is top notch.” – Kevin Byard
Byard was a productive football player in Tennessee prior to being drafted to the Titans. The former Blue Raider was effective for Middle Tennessee’s defensive unit – a lot can be attributed to how well prepared he was for his opponents. Game preparation involved hours of studying the intricacies of the offensive adversaries he would face.
Byard – however – had an advantage that helped him further build his game plan.
Touchdown Pass from…Byard?
An instrumental detail in Byard’s game is offensive familiarity. Byard played both Quarterback and Wide Receiver during his High School career. Understanding both offensive positions – combined with defensive skill set – created his well-rounded instincts.
WATCH:Byard High School
“I would never say its luck. My preparation is a big part of it. I study a lot of film and different things. Also, playing offense and wide receiver in high school, that’s something that helped my ballskills and playing quarterback helped with route combinations. So my offensive background has helped a lot. Safety is the quarterback of the defense so it’s doing the same thing but on the other side of the ball. I trust my instincts.” – Kevin Byard
Byard produced for Middle Tennessee State and finished set the school record with 19 Interceptions. Over 4 seasons, Byard racked up 196 solo tackles, 122 assisted tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 4 interceptions returned for touchdowns.
WATCH: Byard MTSU
Byard was a noticeable presence in the Senior Bowl and after performing well during the combine and his pro day, Byard’s draft stock was building.
Byard Stays Home
With the 64th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Byard’s consistency and hard work finally paid off. Tennessee used The trials and tribulations he went through during his childhood helped create the strong character and a true appreciation for the opportunity he was about to receive – living his dream playing in the NFL.
It has been well documented in interviews with Byard that he had to grow up fast. He was a leader in his family helping during struggling times. He helped raise his younger siblings while still performing on the football field. Byard had his priorities organized and avoided letting life’s hardships derail him from achieving his goal.
Patience is Key
The tools Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau will provide to Byard will only enhance his game. Having one NFL season under his belt familiarized Byard with the game speed. He will also have one full year of studying and understanding schemes in LeBeau’s defensive playbook.
WATCH: Byard Preseason
Byard chalked up a pair of interceptions during the preseason. He was eased into the Titans defense and became a full-time starter during Week 10 following a big game against the San Diego Chargers. In his 1st start, Byard faced Aaron Rodgers. He recorded his 1st NFL sack on Rodgers and would remain a starter throughout the remainder of the season.
Byard Will Be Better
Now that Byard knows what to expect in year two – combined with the new additions to the secondary – his game will be taken to the next level. Byard will continue to expand on his ball-hawking abilities and will be around the football often.
Byard is smooth. He plays with poise and confidence in his preparation. He utilizes all the tools in his football toolbox to gain an upper hand on his opposition. Byard’s reliance on his instincts – stemming from playing Quarterback, Wide Receiver, and Defensive Back – provide him with a safety skill set not many in the league possess.
When Byard makes a play – it is calculated and is a byproduct of his preparation off the field. It will never be by chance – at least in his opinion.
“I would never say its luck. My preparation is a big part of it. I study a lot of film and different things. Also, playing offense and wide receiver in high school, that’s something that helped my ballskills and playing quarterback helped with route combinations. So my offensive background has helped a lot. Safety is the quarterback of the defense so it’s doing the same thing but on the other side of the ball. I trust my instincts.”
If he can improve his physicality and deliver the occasional thump – while continuing to improve on his finesse and knack for finding the football – Byard can make himself a household name beyond Titans fans.
Titans fans should expect Byard to work hard to exceed the highest of expectations – because he sets the bar high. He has an insatiable hunger to be at the top of his game. I expect Byard to be a cornerstone of this defense for years to come.
“I see myself as an All-Pro safety. I don’t strive for mediocrity. I don’t want average. I want to be the best in whatever league I’m playing in. I see myself as an All-Pro safety and it’s something I always visualize. As long as I’m in the NFL, I’ll work to be the best in the league.” – Kevin Byard
With that mindset, the sky’s the limit for Byard. And he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top.
By any means necessary.
To read more on Byard’s mentality and character, I recommend reading the post below.
***I do not claim credit for the quotes or photographs featured in this post. All credit goes to the author(s). Video links credited to publishers.
Brugler, D. (2017). Meet the Prospect: Middle Tennessee State safety Kevin Byard. [online] CBSSports.com. Available at: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/nfl-draft-scout/25304479/meet-the-prospect-middle-tennessee-state-safety-kevin-byard [Accessed 9 Jul. 2017].***