Although Kenny Anunike is far down the Denver Broncos semi-meaningless first depth chart, he’s gotten a training camp nickname. He’s now Kenny ‘Night Train’ Anunike, defensive end. At 6-foot-5 and 273 pounds, he’s giving up to 50 pounds away to a lot of the guards and tackles around the NFL. Assuming they’re running about 313 pounds, as a very rough average, he’s giving up 40 pounds or so. Regardless, Kenny doesn’t back off from the challenge.
He’s working on becoming a sub-package pass rusher. He’s also working on both run stopping and pass coverage. It will make him a better all around player, and will help, should the Broncos take the zone blitz as part of their repertoire. He’s learning the 5-technique as being best suited for his physique.
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Say you have an even number given to a certain defender’s ‘technique’. That means he’s playing directly over an offensive lineman. The center would have a 0-technique, the guard a-2 technique and so forth.
With odd-numbered techniques, it means the defender is ‘shading’ a defender. He’s attacking the lineman at an angle. The center becomes the target of a 1-technique, the guard of a 3-technique, the tackle of a 5-technique.
He’s being sent in from outside the tackle because it’s a common pass rushing lane. What Kenny is giving away in size, he has to make up with speed and technique. He’s quickly learned that all NFL tackles are fast. He’s learning the technique that will have to suffice.
While Kenny must learn all aspects of his DE position, his main value is as an outside pass rusher. Consider what can happen if he and Von are arranged on opposite sides of the same offensive tackle. Stopping them both is nearly impossible. His skill-set is still limited, but it’s potentially valuable.
The Broncos aren’t likely to want to use Kenny a great deal of the time. They hope for specific outcomes when they do—pressures on the quarterback, at a minimum. His ability to increase pressures and sacks will create his value to the Broncos. If he becomes an effective run stopper or pass coverage player, his value would increase dramatically.
But Kenny has taken on a nickname with a past that won’t be easy to live up to. Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane was a defensive back from 1952-1963. He played with the L.A. Rams, the Chicago Cardinals and the Detroit Lions. In that time, he earned seven Pro Bowl selections and six All-Pro selections.
None of those match up to what Dick Lane did in his first year—1952. Like Kenny, Dick Lane had gone undrafted. But in his first year in the league, he set a new NFL record with 14 interceptions. That record still stands today—63 years later. Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane was a one-of-a-kind player. He’s enshrined in the Canton Hall of Fame.
To live up to that legacy, Kenny Anunike has set himself a very high goal indeed. I hope he grows into it.
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