The NFL regular season is right around the corner and with that, KC Kingdom is providing you with a player profile up until week one kick off. Today we will focus on offensive lineman, and hometown player, Donald Stephenson.
First, How Did He Get Here?
Well, technically, Donald has always been here.
He was born and raised in the inner city of KC before moving to Blue Springs, MO his senior season of high school. He was on track to have a tremendous senior season before he broke his toe in week three. Stephenson was sidelined until week 10 against Oak Park, where he made a dominating return then, and in the playoffs against cross town rivals, Blue Springs South.
After a short stint with the Wildcats, Stephenson signed his letter of intent with the Oklahoma Sooners in the late spring of 2007. He spent five seasons in Norman, starting in 2007 where he was a medical red shirt to repair an old shoulder injury.
He was a reserve in 2008 for 7 games, missed all of 2009, and started in 10-of-14 games in 2010 at left tackle. He really elevated his play in 2011, when he became the full time starter at left tackle for the Sooners. (Source SoonerSports.com)
In 2012, the Chiefs drafted him in the third round and he’s been a very reliable offensive lineman in his first two seasons.
Donald was active for all 16 games last season, but only had seven starts. In those seven games, he accounted for 6 penalties (2 holding, 2 false starts, 2 personal fouls) for a total of 50 yards given up.
His best stat though, was the fact that he only gave up 1.5 sacks through all 16 games he saw time in. Also take into consideration that, that’s between playing back-and-forth at left and right tackle. (Source Hosted.Stats.com)
Pro football focus gave Donald a grade of -8.7 in his 2013 campaign, which in all honesty, isn’t very good, but remember he only started in 7 games and that wasn’t consistently at one single position. Aside from his negative grade, his value to the Chiefs offensive line is, and has been, very important.
Stephenson has worked hard this off season with former NFL offensive lineman, LeCharles Bentley, the same guy who helped Geoff Schawrtz have a career year in 2013.
Bentley’s program focus’s on each player individually including diets, technique, and any imbalances the player displays. This doesn’t mean he’ll automatically become a first team All-Pro, but it does mean he will be in the best shape of his career headed into a season in which he should be the full time starter.
As of now, he’s the projected starter at right tackle, though he’s been taking all the snaps at left with the first team while Eric Fisher continues his rehabilitation. His ability to play both sides is what will keep him around longer in the NFL. Most guys aren’t willing to move back-and-forth like he has.
Donald is under contract through 2015, so add that to his motivation for the next two seasons as well. Personally, I expect Donald to continue his progression and really turn a corner in year three.