Tautvydas Kieras is the newest linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs.
He checks all the boxes you want checked for a prototypical NFL player. He's big—6-foot-3, 271 pounds, to be exact. He's fast, clocking a 4.69 40-Yard Dash. He's explosive, recording a Vertical Jump of 35 inches and a Broad Jump of 9 feet, 8 inches. And he's strong, benching 225 pounds for 24 reps.
There's just one tiny little problem—he's never played a down of organized football.
The 24-year-old Kieras, who hails from Lithuania, had never even seen a game of American football before coming to the United States a few years ago.
In 2012, Kieras enrolled at Monroe Junior College in New Rochelle, New York, to compete as a discus thrower on the track & field team. While at Monroe, he won two consecutive NCJAA national championships. His success allowed him to transfer to Mississippi State in 2014, where he continued his strong performance. Last season, he set a new school record with a throw of 196 feet, 11 inches.
In a video from the Kansas City Star, Kieras revealed that Dak Prescott was the first football player who encouraged him to give the game a try. Kieras was intrigued, but he was too busy focusing on his successful track & field career to take the plunge. After completing his final season of NCAA eligibility last year, Kieras realized he didn't have a great chance to take the next step as a discus thrower—the only way to make a career out of it beyond college is to compete in the Olympic games. Thus, he decided to finally give football a try.
He began training in early January at Athletic Gaines in Las Vegas, and was allowed to participate in Mississippi State's Pro Day on March 17. His numbers were phenomenal, and the Chiefs were interested enough to take a shot on him. "[The scouts] all said I did great," Kieras told the Kansas City Star. "But I think I could've done better. Way better."
According to this Athletic Gaines video of Kieras running a 4.55 40, perhaps he's right. But his numbers were eye-popping nonetheless, and we're eager to see if he shows enough promise to stick around on the Chiefs roster.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock