The Vols have now had three players taken in the 2018 NFL Draft. And the third one was a little bit of a surprise.
Kahlil McKenzie was predicted by a decent amount of NFL Draft analysts to be taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, but plenty others had him going undrafted and signing as a free agent. But one NFL team decided to take a chance on the Vol defensive lineman, and he’s officially an NFL player.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Kahlil McKenzie with the 198th overall pick in the sixth round of this year’s draft. He’s the first Vol defensive tackle to be drafted since Daniel McCullers was taken with the 215th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
McKenzie became the 11th Vol to be drafted by Kansas City in the NFL Draft’s history, and he’s the seventh Vol to be selected by the Chiefs since 2003. Zach Fulton was the most recent draftee of the Chiefs from Tennessee, and he was taken with the 193rd overall pick in the 2014 draft. Eric Berry is the most notable Vol to be drafted by Kansas City, going No. 5 overall in the 2010 draft.
Though he played exclusively at defensive tackle while at Tennessee, McKenzie was listed as an offensive guard by the NFL when he was drafted. Adam Schefter later reported that Kansas City does intend to move McKenzie to the offensive line.
And @LRiddickESPN is reporting that the Chiefs will be moving 6th-round pick Khalil McKenzie from DT to guard.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 28, 2018
McKenzie’s father, Reggie McKenzie, is the current General Manager of the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs and Raiders both play in the AFC West.
Coming into college, McKenzie was a five-star defensive tackle prospect and had high hopes and expectations. But injuries and other factors led McKenzie to never living up to his full potential at Tennessee.
McKenzie didn’t start during his freshman season in 2015, but he appeared in all 13 games and showed some promise. He flashed even more potential early on in the 2016 season, but then he suffered a season-ending injury against Alabama in the seventh game of the year. He returned in 2017 looking to bounce back, and he was fairly productive in his junior year, totaling 36 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, and a pass defended. But he still played inconsistently and never really lived up to his five-star potential.
During the draft process, McKenzie worked out as a defensive lineman and offensive lineman. His ability to play along the line may have been the deciding factor for the Chiefs in their decision to draft him.
As a Vol, McKenzie finished his college career with 72 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, a forced fumble, and two passes defended.
McKenzie is the third Vol to be taken in the 2018 NFL Draft. Defensive back Rashaan Gaulden was selected with the 85th overall pick by the Carolina Panthers, and running back John Kelly was taken by the Los Angeles Rams with the 176th overall pick.