Pick profile: Kingsley Keke’s big transition paid off

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GREEN BAY – Texas A&M’s Kingsley Keke started his college career as an interior defensive lineman before moving out to end as a senior.

The Packers had their eye on him the entire time.

Keke became Green Bay’s fifth-round draft pick on Saturday, the 150th overall selection. The 6-4, 288-pounder has changed his body type and position over time, but he’s always stood out in starting 34 games for the Aggies over the last three years.

“He’s been on my radar for a while,” college scout Charles Walls said. “He’s a guy that school has talked about for a long time as a guy to be excited about for the future.”

Keke’s impact statistically rose with the move out to defensive end, as he recorded seven of his 12 career sacks in 2018.

He dropped 20 pounds to make the switch, improving his speed and agility to take the place of a teammate who got hurt.

“We had a good, solid three-technique, so they tried me out there,” Keke said. “I did it for the team.”

Adherence to a stricter diet paid off, and he varied his attack plans against offensive linemen compared to when he lined up at the nose.

“They played him more on the edge, and you could see his athleticism come through little more as a pass rusher, which was intriguing,” Walls said.

“He’s a broad man with plenty of room to grow. He can be whatever weight we want him to be and play whatever position we want him to on the defensive line.”

Take a look at Packers DL Kingsley Keke during his college career.

Keke will join a rather young defensive line group with the Packers.

Eighth-year pro Mike Daniels is the most veteran player, followed by fifth-year guys Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry. But the rest – Montravius Adams, Tyler Lancaster, Fadol Brown, James Looney, and a couple other developmental prospects – have been in the league two years or less.

“I’m ready to get to work and take advantage of this opportunity I have,” Keke said.

He also joins an A&M teammate in the Packers’ 2019 draft class. Green Bay chose Aggies tight end Jace Sternberger in the third round on Friday night.

“He just texted me but I haven’t had time to get back to him,” Keke said. “I’ll see what time he’s leaving to go up there. I’m excited for him and excited to go to work with him.”

Walls believes the pass-rushing prowess he showed last season in an ultra-competitive conference is just the beginning for Keke. He added his use of leverage is “almost a clinic” when it comes to setting the edge.

Keke’s versatility is a nice trait, but his upside is what will determine his impact at the NFL level.

“He has so much ability in his body and he just needs to continuously bring it,” Walls said. “Seven sacks in the SEC as a defensive tackle, defensive end, we think he’s capable of much more, and we’re going to get that out of him.”

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