ALLEN PARK — Devon Kennard remembers his draft day in 2014 as the most stressful and the best day all rolled into one.
The Lions linebacker, who was drafted in the fifth round by the New York Giants, has found success despite his late-round status.
It wasn’t an accident, he worked hard as a rookie and still does.
With the NFL draft starting on April 25 he has advice for late-round picks.
“I would definitely say like learn the playbook early on, that helped me my first year. I feel like I’m an intelligent player, if you don’t know what you’re doing like the game is going to be moving too fast as a rookie and a late-round guy,’’ Kennard said at a Tuesday press conference.
Many of the Lions players reported to voluntary workouts starting on Monday.
“I think I earned my teammates and coaches respect, I came in as a rookie I dove into the playbook right away and I was out there I didn’t do everything perfect. I knew where to line up and play certain things and was doing things the right way,’’ Kennard said. “That gave me a huge headway to end up starting as a rookie even though I was a late-round draft pick.’’
He started six games as a rookie for the Giants and played three more seasons there before he joined the Lions for the 2018 season when he started in 15 games.
The Lions’ defense was a work in progress in 2018, the first under first-year coach Matt Patricia, although improvement was obvious by the end of the season.
Kennard said that doesn’t matter.
“I’m kind of a firm believer in last year is last year. If you try to hang your hat on something like that you know teams are watching film and studying too,’’ Kennard said. “So if you think we finished the year strong so we’re going to be good and we’re going to be strong because that’s how we finished that’s the recipe for disaster.
“I kind of look at it as complete clean slate. The best advantage we have is just our understanding of our defense and our ownership of the defense. It’s what we do with it now moving forward,’’ Kennard added.
The NFL will announce the 2019 schedule at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.