Who is tight end Kennard Backman, and how does he fit the Lions’ needs?
Kennard Backman was a sixth round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2015. He was on the roster for seven games in 2015 but did not record a statistic. In 2016 he headed to IR at the end of the preseason before taking an injury settlement from the Packers. Backman spent his college years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he earned second team conference USA honors after leading his team in receptions as a senior. He played defensive end in high school in addition to his duties as a tight end.
What Can Kennard Backman Do?
Backman is an impressive athlete, or at least he was two years ago. At his Pro Day he ran a 4.66s 40 yard dash, posted a 35-1/2″ vertical leap, and a 9’9″ broad jump. That would have been ninth, tenth and twelfth at the 2016 scouting combine respectively. I was so blown away by his play in week one of the 2016 preseason that I wrote “Kennard Backman also performed well as a dual threat.” in my preseason summary of the Packers performance. Clearly, I was blown away and saw the potential of this soon to be Lion. Backman really did have a pretty good game, and looked like a real threat to make the team, but it was just against Cleveland. By the end of the preseason however he had become the clear number four on the depth chart.
Throughout the preseason Backman had no difficulty getting open when facing linebackers, but did struggle to get separation from safeties. Backman had developed into a stalemate blocker, if not an overpowering one, and showed good hands. He only really played against third and fourth stringers though, and the Packers’ preseason opponents were not exactly deep teams. Based purely on his preseason play it would not have surprised me if he had made the Packers’ roster. His weight gain did not appear to have cost him any of his athleticism. I certainly would have taken him over Cole Wick. The Lions are likely adding to their tight end group before training camp, but if they do not, Kennard Backman very well could find himself on the opening 53 man roster.