The Atlanta Falcons could target BYU’s Bronson Kaufusi in the 2016 NFL Draft
To say that the Atlanta Falcons need to find a way to accumulate quarterback sacks is getting repetitive. The fact is, you get the idea. Instead of asking “How can they rack up sacks?” the better question is to ask “Who will help gather up the sacks?”.
So far this offseason, the Falcons have added muscle to the defense in DE Derrick Shelby and OLB Courtney Upshaw to go along with their lead dog, Vic Beasley. Upshaw will occasionally rush the passer depending on situation and Shelby is help but the team can use another toy to get after the signal caller. Clemson’s Shaq Lawson, Western Kentucky’s Noah Spence, Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun are amongst a handful of names that Atlanta will consider at DE.
One name I advise to not omit is Bronson Kaufusi out of BYU. No, he’s not the big time, marquee name such as the pass rushers lifted above but Kaufusi has a skill set that will fit quite well with Beasley and Shelby and gives the Falcons an edge rusher with length, size, and versatility. The Falcons have shown a considerable amount of interest in Kaufusi as reported by The Falcoholic:
"“Several NFL scouts seemed OK with Kaufusi not doing much, because representatives from the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins went out of their way to thank him for working with them during the scouting process, and a person wearing Kansas City Chiefs gear also paid special interest in him afterward.”"
Let’s take a look at Kaufusi’s skill set.
DE Bronson Kaufusi, BYU
Weight: 285 pounds
Strengths: Effort, effort, and even more effort. Kaufusi is consistent with playing hard until the play is over with a “never quit” attitude. Kaufusi as NFL size weighing in at 285 pounds while standing at 6-foot-6 with 34.5-inch arm length. The former BYU Cougar has sneaky athleticism for a guy his size which plays a part in the defensive end being a two-sport athlete (football, basketball) in his collegiate career.
Kaufusi shows effective bend around the edge as well as solid pass rushing techniques. He can equally be effective rushing from left or right defensive end. Kaufusi totaled seven sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in 2014 and 10 sacks with 18.5 tackles for loss in 2015. Kaufusi consistently takes advantage of his length to properly stack and shed blockers.
He also maintains the mindset to bat down passes if unable to get deep into the backfield. Kaufusi also contains plenty of leadership and all-around work ethic. He also totaled six career forced fumbles and 14 career pass deflections.
An excellent game by Kaufusi where he was literally everywhere. His complete skill set is on display in this particular film:
Weaknesses: Kaufusi tends to play with a high pad level, although you have to consider his height as a reason why. Kaufusi will have to obtain fluidity in his hips as he plays tight-hipped at times. An athletic linemen but his Combine results (30 inch vertical, 4.8 seconds in the 40) leave much to be desired. Kaufusi is older than majority of the prospects in the draft which makes you wonder if he has already reached his ceiling. Kaufusi can be washed down more often than not at times.
Bottom line: The Falcons are in need of skill on the defensive line to get after the quarterback. Edge rusher Vic Beasley can do it by himself and Shelby will pitch in but a natural pass rusher is still needed. Enter Kaufusi. As stated before, there are a few names (Lawson, Spence, Calhoun, Ogbah) ahead of Kaufusi on the wish list for Atlanta.
Yet, with the recent reports of the team’s interest in Kaufusi, it’s worth to at least place the large defensive end under the microscope. Placing a 6-6 defensive end such as Kaufusi on the line with Beasley can do wonders for the defense.
Dan Quinn will have to shine up Kaufusi’s skill set but the former BYU Cougar is intriguing and would be a great addition in the third or fourth round for Atlanta.