Yasir Durant didn’t possess much of an appetite to play football during his childhood. But he loved to watch it.
From his hometown in Philadelphia, he caught as many Eagles games as he could, satisfied to remain nothing more than another fan.
Until his mother finally pushed him into playing. Years later, it’s a never-look-back story, with Durant starring as Missouri’s left tackle and now a member of the Chiefs after agreeing to an undrafted free-agent contract last month.
Well, with one exception. As Durant decided which team might provide the best fit after going undrafted, he did look back.
To those days of watching the Eagles.
“I’ve been an Eagles fan since I was younger,” Durant said. “I watched every Eagles game that I could. I loved the Eagles. I love the coach that Andy Reid was — that appealed to me, to signing with the Chiefs.”
That’s the glass-half-full look at it.
The draft, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so easy. After earning an invite to February’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Durant (6-6, 331 pounds) had hoped to hear his name called during the league’s annual selection process.
He kept his crew small — just his mom, dad and a couple of friends —but watched the third day of the draft in its entirety hoping for some good news. It never came.
“There were times I walked away just to get away and be somewhere private,” Durant said.
But he knew an opportunity awaited. Knew the Chiefs were interested, too. He’d talked with them informally at the combine and then enjoyed a subsequent WebEx meeting with Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck.
Playing for the Super Bowl champions had a certain ring to it. But the connections he’d developed had even more influence on his desire to play in Kansas City.
The feeling proved mutual, and Durant’s quick assessment of his skill-set provides an indication as to why.
Versatility. He played left tackle at Mizzou, but he previously spent time at right tackle and guard at Arizona Western Community College.
“I’m pretty comfortable with switching inside (and) going back outside,” Durant said. “I’m very comfortable with that.”
Durant is considered better in pass protection than the running game. He “is somewhat limited as a mover and isn’t going to excite many teams as a run blocker, but his length and anchor strength in pass protection is what will be most appealed,” wrote NFL analyst Lance Zierlein ahead of the draft. But Durant acknowledged Wednesday in a Zoom call with media that there are overall improvements he can make everywhere.
Virtually, for now. He completed an online “rookie mini-camp” with the Chiefs over the weekend, receiving information about things like installation, playbook and scheme.
The Chiefs have not yet informed him where they envision his future — though that could come during a potential training camp, where Heck is known to shuffle lineman around.
“My natural position obviously is tackle — I played tackle most of my life,” Durant said. “I have a lot of versatility. I’m comfortable at a lot of spots. Right now we’re just working through things and finding out where I fit best. Just trying to help the team however I can.”
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Sam McDowell covers the Chiefs and sports enterprise for The Star.