The offensive players the Patriots brought in as UDFAs have been getting most of the attention, but no one should sleep on San Diego State’s Kyahva Tezino. He has the look of another undrafted free agent who went on to have a spectacular NFL career, and that’s former St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins, and Buffalo Bills stud London Fletcher.
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Before you go calling BS on this comparison, let’s consider a few things. One, there is the fact that both were undrafted free agents. Secondly, there is the frame similarity. Fletcher is listed at 5’10” 242 pounds while Tezino was measured at 6’0″ 235 pounds. By most accounts, experts would say both would be considered undersized linebackers–especially in 2020.
Tezino–like Fletcher–has proven he can compete with all levels despite what some might consider the less-than-ideal size. Tezino is a leader, and that’s a label often given to Fletcher during his NFL career that lasted 16 years and saw him never miss a game. He won a Super Bowl with the Rams and made four Pro Bowl teams. He last played in the NFL in 2013 and believes his call to the Hall of Fame is forthcoming.
As someone who had the privilege to watch all of Fletcher’s NFL career, and witnessed his impeccable instincts for the game, I see some similar qualities in Tezino. Fletcher’s penchant for delivering hits, and using his smaller frame to his advantage when he slithered through thin gaps to get into the backfield or hid out of a QB’s sight only to spring up into the air after baiting a throw for an interception defined his excellence.
Tezino has some of those same innate abilities.
Tezino is a long way from being Fletcher, but the talent and seeds are there. Right now, he plays the run exceptionally well. He led one of the nation’s best defenses and was the Aztecs’ team MVP the last two seasons.
Keegan Stiefel of Pats Pulpit projects Tezino to be in competition with three other rookie linebackers for a roster spot that will likely require him to shine on special teams. That’s how Fletcher spent his first year in the NFL as well before breaking into the starting lineup in his second season.
There are a lot of things to like about Tezino, he brings an unfamiliar skill set than what we’ve seen in recent seasons but plays a similar game to Elandon Roberts, which is perfect because it looks like that is the role he is projected to compete to fill. Tezino, DeJon “Scoota” Harris and Cassh Maluia are all competing for one reserve spot in the middle of the defense, Tezino will have to show the qualities that made him a captain and team MVP at SDSU early and often if he wants to win the job. Personally, I think he’s got as good a shot as anyone.
In all honesty, Tezino may not find his place in the NFL with the Patriots. There is a lot of competition and this isn’t going to be a conventional training camp and season, but I firmly believe he will be an NFL player in Foxboro or for another franchise.
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