Chiefs beef up defensive-line interior with Texas’ Keondre Coburn in 6th round

NFL Combine Football
Posted at 3:48 PM, Apr 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-29 18:08:13-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Keondre Coburn has been glued to the TV and his phone for three days, checking pick by pick as the 2023 NFL Draft unfolded and waiting to hear his name.

“I checked my phone probably a million times, and I don’t even think that’s possible,” said Coburn, a four-year starter at defensive tackle for Texas. “... I was very anxious just wondering who would give me a chance.”

When the call finally came, Coburn was cleaning a bottle for his breastfeeding girlfriend.

“I was using a tool in the sink cleaning it,” he said. “My phone is connected to my tablet and it just started going crazy, it was ringing so loud.”

Coburn assumed it was family calling to check in.

“I was like, ‘Who is calling this time?’ but my girl said, ‘It’s Kansas,’” Coburn said. “In my head, I was like, ‘Oh, no, it can’t be. Ain’t no way.’”

He tried to answer as quickly as he could, but struggled to pick up the call.

“My hand was wet, so I couldn’t really swipe,” Coburn said. “You know how iPhones are. I hurried up and dried it (my hand) off and swiped it, got on the phone and when he said, ‘This is the Kansas City Chiefs,’ I swear I think I broke down and cried.”

Kansas City needed to bulk the interior of the defensive line after losing defensive tackle Khalen Saunders in free agency and Coburn brings the beef, checking in at 6 feet, 2 inches and 332 pounds.

“He's a big dude up front — strong, powerful, explosive,” Jason Lamb, the Southwest regional scout for the Chiefs, said. “The thing about him, though, for being as big as he is, dude can move. He'll chase the quarterback, he can run around and make the quarterback scream outside the pocket, so he's gonna bring a big presence up front and a lot of explosiveness, a lot of power, a lot of strength in his game.”

Coburn had 14 tackles for loss and 5 1/2 sacks in 51 career games. He was a second-team All-Big 12 choice as a senior.

Coburn said he’s probably “better” at nose tackle, because it’s the position he’s most familiar with but that he’s comfortable sliding over a gap as needed. He compared himself to Tampa Bay’s Vita Vea.

He’s thrilled to play alongside defensive tackle Chris Jones.

Coburn said he thought he made great strides in improving his interior pass rush during his final season with the Longhorns, but he wants to get better at “staying low and staying consistent” with his pad level and hand usage.

“There’s always something you can improve on,” Coburn said.

Lamb confirmed the Chiefs staff’s belief in Coburn’s versatility, which has been a theme for its defensive picks.

“He's got the athletic ability to move down the line either way — doing slants, doing stunts, all that kind of stuff,” Lamb said. “He's got a pretty quick first step for being as big as he is, so I know Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) and all of our coaches, they'll definitely use them in a bunch of different ways for sure.”

Coburn played five years at Texas, including four as the starting nose tackle. He’ll join the interior defensive-line rotation along with veteran Derrick Nnadi.

“All I want to do is help the team win,” Coburn said. “Already coming to a winning team, I can just add my juice into it.”

Kansas City traded its other sixth-round pick (No. 178 overall) to Dallas for the Cowboys’ 2024 fifth-round pick.