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Kahlil McKenzie Looks Forward To Forging His Own NFL Path

Football is the family business, and it's time for Kahlil McKenzie to get to work.

McKenzie's father Reggie is the Oakland Raiders general manager, and his uncle Raleigh is a college scout for the Silver and Black, but before the duo transitioned into the front office, both strapped the pads on, playing a combined 21 seasons in the NFL, Reggie as a linebacker, Raleigh as an offensive lineman.

Now, after a three-year career at the University of Tennessee, McKenzie's oldest son is ready to follow in his father's footsteps, although his NFL Combine experience was admittedly a lot different than his dad and uncle's thirty years ago.

Not only has the NFL Scouting Combine turned into a television spectacle, but adding another wrinkle to an already complicated and pressure-filled interview process, when Kahlil McKenzie went through his interview and on-field drills, his dad was watching from the stands.

And he wasn't watching as a proud parent – even though I'm sure he was – he was watching as an NFL general manager trying to evaluate a prospect that could possibly help his team down the road.

"The whole process has been awesome," said the younger McKenzie during his media session in Indianapolis. "You always dream of going to the Combine as a little kid, playing football and everything, so just this whole process, trying to take it day by day."

When all was said and done, McKenzie had put together a nice body of work at the Combine: he ran a 5.15 second 40-yard dash, bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times, and registered a 105 inch broad jump, but as far as his interviews go, the former Tennessee Volunteer remained purposely vague.

But come on, Kahlil, did you meet with your dad and the Silver and Black?

When asked just that, McKenzie smiled, laughed, and very politely declined to give a comment on the matter.

Even though he grew up in a football family – a high-profile one at that – McKenzie said he never felt pressured to play the game, and even now, as he's on the precipice of fulfilling a childhood dream, before anything else, his dad has been a supporter more than an evaluator.

"He's really just a really big supporter," McKenzie explained. "He likes to give a lot of advice, but he gives it when I ask for it. He's one of those guys, he does not want to be that overbearing – he's not that type of guy. That's how his personality is. He just wants to be there for me all the time. "

That being said, the defensive tackle prospect indeed leaned on his dad to get some fatherly advice heading into what was one of the most-important weeks of the pre-draft process.

"He just told me stay humble through everything, make sure I keep a level head, and just work hard," McKenzie said. "He just made sure, he said, work hard. Work hard, be humble through the whole process, and make sure everything is at 100 percent. Everything I do is at 100 percent, every time I talk to somebody it's at 100 percent, just making sure every single thing is perfect."

McKenzie was asked about his dad a lot during his media session over the weekend, but that line of questioning proved to be more the exception than the rule during his meetings with the actual teams, because as he so rationally stated, teams are drafting him, not the general manager of the Oakland Raiders.

"I'm a defensive tackle who plays football," McKenzie said. "That's it. I'm Kahlil McKenzie and that's what they're getting. They're not getting my dad, they're getting me."

McKenzie – just like every other prospect at the Combine – will now wait until the final weekend in April to see which team indeed ends up getting him.

The 2018 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday, April 26 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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