As a four-year starter at Samford, Kelvin McKnight broke just about every record ever set by any Samford WR before him. It is not just on the stat where he made his presence felt, however.
McKnight’s tape was one of the most exhilarating tapes I have watched this year. His ability to use his quickness to get open and dominate any level of competition he went up against was legitimately amazing to watch.
McKnight sat down exclusively with Behind the Steel Curtain and discussed his career, his NFL prospects, and how he wins as a smaller receiver.
Nick: You were a four-year starter at Samford. How do you think that has helped you in this process thus far?
KM: It really shows that I have a lot of experience under my belt and a lot of snaps and game film. It is not that I just have one good year, I have improved every year from my Freshman year up.
Nick: And because of that, you have set all types of records as Samford and have won numerous awards. How does it feel to have all those accolades?
KM: It feels great when you know how hard you work and seeing it pay off. It was really cool, because a teammate before me, Karel Hamilton had set all those before. I watched him break those, and I told him I would break them, and I ended up doing just that.
Nick: You and Devlin Hodges had one of the best connections in the country period. How have you guys developed such a great chemistry?
KM: Really it is just being together for four years. In the offseason, we would work together nonstop. We would get extra reps. After a while, he knew what I was doing, I knew what he was doing and we were really on the same page to do what we did the past four years.
Nick: On tape, you might have been small, but you’re more than quick to win outside and not be just a slot guy in the NFL. As a guy that size, how do you beat press and win on the outside so often?
KM: I understand how to get open. That has been my strong suit in one-on-one. At Samford, we have a ton of those, and I bring that to the NFL. I can play anywhere and be on the field longer. I understand how to get open and I understand the tendencies of those CBs opposite of me.
Nick: That much is evident. You win through your quickness and route running ability. Describe how you run your routes so well.
KM: Paying attention to detail is huge. I was always a good route runner, but my coach back home, Lane Rice, really helped me develop as a route runner. I am not just going to do the same things, I am going to switch it up on you. I really take that into my route running. I love route running, and that passion shows on the field.
Nick: Even as you kill man due to your route running, you kill zone coverage too. How do you do that?
KM: I really have that niche of being open. I feel where the DBs are, I see where they are, I see what the coverage is, I see what is open, and I run my route to where I can open for the soft spot. I try to give my QB my the best window he can have.
Nick: If there is one QB you could catch a pass from, who would it be?
KM: That is tough, but the top two are Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
Nick: This offseason, what have you been working on the most?
KM: I have been focusing on my speed. I want to show the scouts I can run well, even if they can see it on film. I want to showcase my speed and show my route running and ability to catch naturally. But all the drills for my pro day is what I have been working on.
Nick: You faced future NFL CB Levonta Taylor this year against Florida State and had a great game. How did you beat him so often and how does it feel to have that great of a game against a guy of that caliber?
KM: Well I came into the game with a chip on my shoulder. It was my first game in Florida, my home state, in college ever. So, my family was there, my mom, my cousin Peter Warrick went there as well, and I always wanted to go there. I was talking about this game two years before it happened. My mindset is there is just another guy across from me. They are no different. It doesn’t matter who’s across from me, we all put on cleats. I was just out there playing the game determined. I didn’t force anything, coach let me loose that game and let me go deep on the first play. It was a great experience to play at Florida State.
Nick: You used to go up against James Bradberry daily. How has that shaped you as a player?
KM: He helps me a lot. We get work into together when he comes back down in the offseason. Freshman year he really taught me how to use my moves in a different way. He is a longer CB, and he can jump inside and play the nickel, so we always used to do reps from the inside while I was in the slot. I had to find different ways to get open, I wasn’t as fast as him, but I was quicker, so I always had battles with him. The experience with him really helped me.
Nick: Is there any player you model your game after?
KM: I grew up watching my cousin Ace Sanders play and he was a big reason of why I wanted to play Wide Receiver. Right now, in the NFL I love watching Antonio Brown and someone who doesn’t get enough credit, Davante Adams. Any guy that can run routes and get open, I like them.
Nick: What do you think your best asset is as a player?
KM: I have the niche of getting open. I am going to win my one-on-one matchup. If an opportunity comes, I am going to get open and make a play.