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2023 NFL Draft interview: Texas defensive lineman Keondre Coburn

WCG’s Lead Draft Analyst spoke with one of the top run-stuffing defensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Oklahoma State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images


JI: Talking about your background, how did growing up with seven siblings help mold who you are today?

KC: Growing up with seven siblings, it really helped me learn how to...I want to say grow faster. You can’t really have a bunch of mistakes, because I have seven siblings looking up to me. I don’t want them to follow in footsteps that [are] wrong. I made sure that, me being the first kid..I tried to do everything right in school, not getting in trouble, graduate college. Now, I’m doing something I dreamed of, so it’s really one of the things where my siblings can’t have no excuse why they can’t do what they want to do. From the start, as I kid, I said I wanted to do this, and the fact that I’m still doing it is a blessing. It shows you that I follow the best footsteps I can, I did everything right, but that’s what I believe. It’s [important] being a role model for them. You don’t have to follow my same footsteps, but you got to do at least everything I did, graduate high school, graduate college because I did — not being really in charge of them, but just being older than them and just leading that type of way. I believe leaders lead by example, lead by showing things they do. You can’t just lead by talking; lead by your actions. I think that was the best way to be the older brother for them and to show them that you can do whatever you want. You just got to stick with it, and just keep going, keep working hard.

JI: Growing up in that kind of role would have to help you out as a leader in the locker room, I’m sure.

KC: Everybody can talk, but you gotta lead. I feel like I could be a leader no matter what. Everybody can lead in some type of way, but can you take a walk that [walk]; can you do it every day? Can you lead consistently? I feel like that’s very important. Everybody makes mistakes; nobody’s perfect, but you continue to try to be good in the best way that you can to help the team especially in the locker room. Can I lead right? Can I be on time every day to get somebody that’s struggling right now? If I tell you something, you got to at least listen to me, because I’m doing it every day. I’m doing the same thing you’re doing.

JI: You’re a big guy, which helps in the run game, but there’s a lot more to it than that. What are some of the aspects of your game besides sheer size and strength you think make you so effective against the run?

KC: I just think my [knowledge] of the game. I think understanding the game really helps that a lot. Everybody’s obviously talented in this sport if you made this far, especially into college. That’s why I believe everybody in college is good. It’s just how you single yourself out from everybody else, how you make yourself better, just certain things: watch a little more film, [study] more of the game. For me, I’m strong, big and things like that. I’m very quick, very athletic for my size, and I can move very well and change directions, but I think what separates me from a lot of people is understanding the game a lot more.

I took this previous year to really understand the game, understand why I’m getting this run block, why I’m getting this type of block in this type of scheme. Why is it that going this way? They’re always moving this way; why is it countered like this? I tried to understand the philosophy of the football and just the schemes and understand why they were doing a lot of things, and I think that helped a lot. When you get down in your stance before, offensive linemen give a lot of things away. They’ll tell you what they’re doing. They’re not probably 100% every time, but at the same time, [it’s] 50/50. They’re sometimes right when you watch the film, so I think I understood the game a little more, understand the philosophy of what’s going on.

JI: You and Moro Ojomo came up in the same recruiting class and are now in the same draft class. Can you speak to your relationship with him and how your game complements his?

KC: Moro’s a cool cat. We’ve been teammates for this long, we’ve been friends coming, like you said, coming from the same recruiting class, both from Houston, things like that. We’ve kind of been neck-and-neck with each other every year. When stuff was hard for me, he was picking me up, and when stuff was hard for him, I was there to pick him up. We’ve almost been roommates I think every year of every game I’ve [had].

I’m so blessed for him, I’m so happy for him. He’ll be in the same situation I am in, it’s crazy, because we were both coming in with each other. The fact that we’re both [doing] the same thing. At the Combine, we were both roommates. At the same time, we see each other grow, we see our blessings coming in for us. I’m happy for him; whatever happens with Moro, and whatever happens to me is a blessing [from] God. I was glad that he’s a situation that he could feed his family, help his family, things like that. It’s all love and all blessings to Moro from now on.

JI: You mentioned the Combine, and you had the chance to participate in both that and the Shrine Bowl. What was that experience like?

KC: It was very fun; it was something different. It just felt different. You see a lot of these players on national TV, I see other teams that you probably haven’t had a chance to play against and see in-person, or teams you want to go visit, and players...even people that you know from previous times of recruiting or knowing each other in college in some type of way. It was cool, especially the Shrine Bowl; it was very fun. It was my first time in Las Vegas, but it was very, very cool to get coached by NFL teams. I was coached by the Atlanta Falcons, and the Patriots there on the other side, so I saw Bill Belichick; I can just see him every day, it was just like “whoa, that’s the head coach of the New England Patriots”. Since I was a kid, I’ve been watching him, and being coached by the Falcons [staff], seeing the Falcons logo everywhere, it was crazy. It was like, “man, I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a kid, and now I’m here,” it’s just like, “whoa, am I really here?”

Going through the Combine was something I’ve been watching since I was a kid. Being at everything, going through [and] waking up, going out there, getting Combine clothes, getting Combine notifications, it was crazy. I never thought I’d be here. I mean, I believed in it, but I never thought it was real or anything like that. Seeing all just happen for me, it was crazy. It was a blessing. I enjoyed every moment and how cool it was.

JI: If I saw Bill Belichick in person, I’d be terrified. I don’t know how you did it.

KC: Yeah, that’s crazy. Seeing him, seeing anybody, especially from the league was crazy, because I know my history about the league in certain ways. I know people be like that. Seeing those people, it was just like, “damn, I’m really finna be in this circle with them”.

JI: Starting for 4 years, you’ve faced a lot of tough competition. Who’s the toughest offensive lineman you’ve faced, and why?

KC: That’s challenging. I could give you a couple people I feel like were really good at what they did or was just difficult [to defend] in a way. Obviously, Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma, I’d say it was very fun playing against him. It was cool, but he knows what he’s doing, and that’s why he’s one of the top centers in the league right now. It was pretty challenging. It was pretty cool. It’s pretty fun. It was a good competition for me, [and] we had a great talk after the game. He said I’m going to be good player in the future, things like that. Obviously, I already said he was gonna be a great player, and you see what he’s doing right now in the league.

I can say a team that probably was very difficult understanding at the time was the Baylor offensive line this previous year. [There was] nobody specific to where I can say it was very challenging, [but] the fact how the whole offensive line flowed together, they would do something that I’d never seen offensive linemen do, like they will literally step one way in a spin and go in the opposite way. It was ind of funny to us, as a viewer watching that film, but the fact that I was actually doing it was like, “oh shit, okay, okay.” It was kind of difficult and it was kind of fun to play, but I would say those two specifically. I’d say Creed Humphrey was the top one, I can say Baylor’s offensive line, total. The [Baylor] offensive line coach and the way they flow with their players, and the scheme that they were in was pretty cool.

JI: I was expecting you’d mention Creed, but I’ll have to watch that game of you against Baylor. Does watching Creed excel in the NFL make you feel good about your chances at that level, knowing you played him tough?

KC: Oh, yeah, most definitely. I went against an NFL center, in a way. It’s not gonna ever be’s gonna be challenging at first, getting into the league and adjusting to everything, but once I get adjusted to everything, being in the league a little bit, it’s gonna be just like I was in college, and I just got work harder to prove that I’m better than everybody else. I think that’s gonna be the mindset going into the NFL.

JI: How do you spend your free time outside of football?

KC: I’m expecting a child at beginning of next month, so my free time is gonna be based off taking care of my child, trying to spend as much time with my kid. When I’m done with practice, or I’m done with meetings, or I’m done watching film...I want to go home and spend all the rest of my time with my child, and then do the same thing over and over, every day. I feel like it’s very important to spend the most time with your kid. Besides that, me and my girl, we like going to movies, we like walking in a mall. We like going out and trying new food and things like that. We like to travel, we like going to Disneyland and things like that. More like my free time, we’ll do more family-oriented things where I want to spend as much time as I can with them. My free time is their free time, to be honest. [I] chill out, watch sports. I love all sports; I’m not in college no more, so I can actually sit down and watch college football or stuff like that.

JI: Congratulations on the kid on the way! When’s the baby due, if you don’t mind me asking?

KC: We were told May 17, but as of right now, it will probably be the end of this month or at the beginning of next month.

JI: With that and the draft, it’s gotta be a really exciting few weeks for you.

KC: Oh, yeah, most definitely. I mean, it’s just a blessing, and I’m going through every process of it.

JI: Let’s say I’m an NFL general manager. What would I be getting if I drafted you to my team?

KC: You’re getting someone who loves his game, who’s a team player [that doesn’t] really care about his stats and the type of ways you can do in house to team no matter what you’re getting a February two type person, you get a person that is willing to do whatever to help the team win and I love this game. This is my obsession. This is my time. I’m gonna take this serious like any other job, and I’m just ready to work. I’m just ready to give an organization gets to a city in the city lovely. And just take a lot of things in. This is a process that I can’t choose where I go. I just want to do every process of it and just enjoy my time walking and getting a little clarity just willing to do whatever

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