NAME: Kingsley Keke
SCHOOL: Texas A&M
POSITION: Interior Defensive Lineman
JERSEY: No. 88
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 305 lbs
Get-off/Burst – Despite his athletic gifts, not a very explosive player. Can be late off the ball at times and does his best work after his first step as a pass rusher. Takes several strides to get to top speed and may lack the twitch to be an effective penetrating one-gap defender.
Leverage – Plays way too high and struggles to control space as a result. Too easily knocked off balance and uprooted by physicality and technique. Loses power due to upright playing position, gets washed out of gaps and can’t utilize hands as effectively. Double teams = game over. Has the flexibility to play lower, needs to maintain lower center of gravity.
Hand Usage – Not where you’d want it to be for a senior, but flashes of violent hand usage that show what could be. Doesn’t consistently lock out at the point of attack and struggles to work off contact as a result. Body-to-body a lot in the trenches, makes him easier to control. Has shown a nasty cross-chop, long arm and rip move as a rusher before. Push-pulled tight ends around when they were assigned to him.
Rush Plan/Counters – A go-to interior pass rusher on long and late situations. Has great change-of-direction and will use stutter steps to cross the face of blockers and attack their edge. Pad level allows him to get locked down too easily, can expose a ton of surface area. Not good enough at protecting his frame and staying clean on a consistent basis. Odd player, will slow-play several rushes with no real plan, then all of a sudden pull out a speed-to-spin rush with a crushing icepick. He has moves, just wish he used them more and deployed them quicker.
Mental Processing/Block Recognition – Slow to string moves together and recognize opportunities for counters as a pass rusher. Plays as an edge often, stepped down when unblocked and forced runners to bounce gaps. Can be slow to find the ball at times. When they play him at nose tackle, fails to split double teams effectively and can get bodied off the ball.
Range – Takes a few steps to get to top speed, but chases down ball carriers at the perimeter and has good wheels for the position. When he finds the ball early and gets clean, capable of making plays away from his gap.
Bend/Flexibility – If he is indeed 300 pounds, you simply don’t see many players his size bend the way Keke does. Played on the edge a lot, and while he isn’t explosive enough to stay there in the NFL, showed the ability to bend at the hips and dip under contact to the pocket. Even from a 3-technique spot, showed he could rip through punches and turn tightly to the quarterback, not getting run up the arc. Gave Greg Little a good game.
Tackling – Has missed a couple tackles despite good form. May leave his feet a little too early when he could run through contact. Has good length and can bring runners down outside his frame. Ability to make plays in space is a big plus.
Competitive Toughness – No issues here. I’ve seen him chase down screens. Doesn’t have an insane motor, but plays hard and is considered a leader on that defense.
Athleticism/Size – Listed size and length are outstanding, has an unusual, fairly narrow frame without a lot of bad weight. Is he really 305? Looks more like 285 or 290, which is still fine. Athletically unique, appears to have really impressive flexibility, but how he tests in the jumps and 10-yard split will be important to measure his seemingly absent explosiveness.
BEST TRAIT – Bend/Flexibility
WORST TRAIT – Leverage
RED FLAGS – None
Kingsley Keke is one of the oddest players I’ve ever scouted. On one hand, he has wild flexibility and bend for an interior defensive lineman, capable of contorting his body to reduce his surface area while cornering some tough angles to the pocket. On the other hand, he’s not explosive at all and takes several steps to get to top speed. He has some terrific rush moves, but he’s slow to deploy them at times and doesn’t finish as often as you’d like to see.
Also, I can never remember which part of his name comes first and which comes second. Also, Drake wrote a song about him, if I recall correctly.
I think Keke has some awesome traits to work with, but he may be at his best as a long/late downs interior rusher due to his lack of leverage and hand usage in the run game. He’s capable of potentially wearing a lot of hats and being a Deatrich Wise-like player, but I would love to see more consistency in his areas of strength. As a late call up to the Senior Bowl, the stage is huge for him to capture the attention of scouts in Mobile and potentially put his name in the Top 100 conversation.