Jon Beason thinks LB Devon Kennard can be one of the Giants’ best defenders

Second year linebacker Devon Kennard was one of the most effective 4-3 outside linebackers on a per snap basis in 2014. He will look to repeat his success over the course of a full season as the Giants' projected starter heading into 2015.

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The New York Giants have a history of producing some of the best linebackers in NFL history. However, the last time they could lay claim to having one of the best in the NFL was during Antonio Pierce’s stint. Remember this ridiculous play from one of the most important games in franchise history? One way for the Giants to get back to becoming one of the league’s most dominant defenses again is for another linebacker to emerge as one of the team’s best defenders. Veteran linebacker Jon Beason believes that second year linebacker Devon Kennard can be that man.

In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Wednesday, Beason heaped praise on Kennard for his preparation and dedication to his craft.

Beason took it one step further in an interview with Giants Insider on Giants.com

"Watching Devon come in, you see wow this guy is 6’3, 255, maybe 260–he’s chizeled," Beason said. "He’s a bigger guy who can play defensive end if he wants to. But he took coaching, prepared (for linebacker) and did it. He’s come back this offseason and he’s a step or two faster. I’ve noticed it. He can be as good as anyone who has played here."

While Kennard may have the versatility to play defensive end, as Beason alluded to, it seems likely that the Giants will have him focus on linebacker in 2015. After an early season injury slowed him down, Kennard finished his rookie season on a tear before missing the final game in Week 17.

Despite playing just 338 defensive snaps, Kennard finished as Pro Football Focus’ 14th-best 4-3 outside linebacker overall. He was one of only three players with less than 500 defensive snaps to finish in the top 15 of their 4-3 outside linebacker grades. He was strong as a pass rusher and a run stopper. He finished with five sacks, four quarterback hurries, and a batted pass on snaps where he rushed the passer. In the run game, Kennard had 35 solo defensive tackles and only missed one tackle all season.

Kennard has been out for most of the Giants’ OTAs so far, nursing another injury, but the team is likely being precautionary with one of their most talented young defenders. Kennard is expected to take over the SAM linebacker role in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

(h/t New York Giants)