The Southeast Missouri linebacker hasn’t taken an NFL snap outside of the 2018 preseason, but he’ll get a look at Saints camp.
As the New Orleans Saints turn the corner to training camp kicking off this week, they’re finally filling out the rest of their 90-man camp roster. Along with the recent signings of cornerback Brian Poole and wide receiver Chris Hogan, they are also reportedly signing former Southeast Missouri University linebacker/defensive end Kendall Donnerson.
Saints are signing LB Kendall Donnerson, per source
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) July 26, 2021
Donnerson is a 6-foot-3 250-pound defender who started at outside linebacker for the SEMO Redhawks his final two seasons. During that time, he piled on 26.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks. However, at just 250 pounds, it’s hard to picture him as an edge rusher in their system which tends to favor size and length at the position.
The signing doesn’t feel like it’s indicative of the talent on the roster, but certainly continuing to add to the competition is a smart move by New Orleans. The question is, how much can he compete?
If anything was going to give Donnerson a chance to make an NFL roster or another practice squad, previously having landed on the Packers, Raiders, and Bengals practice squads, it’s going to be his athleticism.
New #Saints DE/OLB Kendall Donnerson’s athletic testing (Missouri Western pro day) should look familiar to Saints fans.
As LB & as DE pic.twitter.com/vuteBEh5GZ
— Ross Jackson (@RossJacksonNOLA) July 27, 2021
No doubt at all that the Saints love a dynamic athlete, and Donnerson bring it. A rep from an athletic training, Ignition, group reported to Acme Packing Company that the Maumelle, AR native ran a 4.44 40 yard dash along with some more impressive testing numbers including a 40-inch vertical as well as a 131-inch broad jump.
Donnerson was drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers and appeared in four preseason games with seven total tackles before being signed to the practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster in December of that season, but did not play a snap for the team in the regular season.
He then spent stints with the (then) Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Most recently, was signed and released within a couple of weeks by the Carolina Panthers earlier this offseason.
— Jeff Honza (@honzsid) August 2, 2017
Even with all of the explosiveness and impressive athletic ability, it’s hard to put too much expectation on Donnerson. Usually that’s the case for players joining a roster at the end of July. However, where the Saints need assistance is depth, and he could find a way to contribute there.
Whether as a special teams asset, a true reserve on defense, or a potential gameday elevation from the aforementioned practice squad, there are several paths to stick around available in New Orleans. Not to mention that the depth at linebacker is already young and under a microscope behind veteran Demario Davis.
Looking at him as a defensive end makes it slightly more challenging for him considering his size and lack of Saints-style length. But we’ll see what happens once he gets to camp.
Saints head coach Sean Payton is very much against putting ceilings on players regardless of draft position or how/when they arrive on the team. If he happens to perform well, there’s no doubt he’ll be noticed.
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