Bronson Kaufusi (DE, BYU)
I watched BYU twice in 2015 but didn’t see the Fresno State game (see above). Yesterday I watched it for the first time and he basically took over the game. Granted it was a 52-10 beat down. Yet Kaufusi’s three sacks, TFL’s in the run game and a blocked kick just jumped off the screen.
It was similar to the type of performance we used to see from Margus Hunt at SMU. At 6-8 and 295lbs, Hunt was the #53 pick in 2013. Like Hunt, Kaufusi is also an older player entering the draft. He’ll be 25 as a rookie.
There are key differences between the two though — and this is why Kaufusi might end up having a superior pro career. For starters he’s more consistent on tape. Hunt flashed occasionally but watching Kaufusi — he’s more of a week-to-week impact player. He’s also a better athlete. Kaufusi ran an elite short shuttle at the combine at 4.25 seconds. He also had a 7.03 in the three-cone. He’s 6-6 and 285lbs.
Here’s the list of defensive linemen that performed better in the agility tests:
Joey Bosa (4.21, 6.89)
Shalique Calhoun (4.25, 6.97)
Shaq Lawson (4.21, 7.16)
Bosa is 6-5 and 269lbs, Calhoun 6-4 and 251lbs and Lawson 6-2 and 259lbs. Kaufusi moves as well as the top edge rushers in this class despite being freakishly bigger. He’s basically as agile and quick as Calhoun despite a 34lbs weight difference.
J.J. Watt, for what it’s worth, was 6-5 and 290lbs at his combine and had a 4.21 in the short shuttle and a 6.88 in the three-cone. There’s a 0.04 difference between his forty time and Kaufusi’s. Ziggy Ansah had a 4.26 in the short shuttle and a 7.11 three cone (he also had an incredible 4.56 forty and a 1.62 split).
Let’s state the obvious — these are not bad comparisons.
The Seahawks love top-level athletic traits. They also like production (he has that) and grit (he’s a coaches son and plays that way). That said — I’m not convinced he’s anything more than an edge rusher. Unlike Watt, there isn’t any real evidence of him moving around the line and impacting plays. He just wasn’t used in that way. He has the frame to do it but might need to add a little more bulk. If Seattle’s desire is to find a good inside/out rusher — you’d be taking a chance that Kaufusi can make that adjustment.
Here’s something else to consider — in terms of sack production, here’s the top four in the NFL in 2015:
1. J.J. Watt (6-5, 289lbs)
2. Khalil Mack (6-3, 250lbs)
3. Ziggy Ansah (6-5, 278lbs)
4. Carlos Dunlap (6-6, 280lbs)
There are two types of great NFL rusher at the moment — smaller with elite quicks (Mack, Von Miller) and the super-athletic big men (Watt, Ansah). Physically Kaufusi compares well to the bigger, athletic guys.
The issues on tape are pretty obvious. Because of his height he struggles with leverage when he doesn’t stay low. He has a tendency to play high and when this happens he just doesn’t have an impact. There’s a bit of fire to his play and his effort is excellent but he doesn’t chew glass. He’s not necessarily a war daddy but he equally won’t back down.
You get the sense he got by on athleticism in college and he’s not technically the best pass rusher. There’s no real evidence of a plan in place — he doesn’t take three plays to set up a blocker and he doesn’t have a repertoire. At the next level, when his athleticism is less dominating, he’ll need to be more nuanced. His first priority needs to be to work on his hand placement.
That said it would be interesting to see how he’d fair playing next to Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark. He’s not going to face the double teams he had in college and his agility is good enough to make teams pay 1v1 off the edge. In a draft class without many freaky athletes Kaufusi deserves the description. He could be an option in round two if the Seahawks go O-line at #26.
Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
After talking about Bullard over the last few days, I went back and watched Florida’s games against Ole Miss and Alabama. While he is very capable of playing end and tackle and moving around the line — Bullard isn’t a splash play specialist. In the two games he didn’t have a major impact — he just played well. He perfectly read an option play to drop a running back for a big loss against Ole Miss and he had a clear up sack against Alabama. Jake Coker scrambled away from pressure in the backfield, tried to extend the play and ran into Bullard.
It was good to watch him again if only to remind myself what I thought during the season. Bullard is a high-effort, intense defensive lineman but you don’t watch the tape and see anything particularly special. When he lines up at end he wins shooting the B-gap and timing snap counts. There’s not much variation. Working inside he can barrel his way into the backfield but it’s forceful rather than quick/twitch. At the next level he isn’t likely to just be able to get after the B-gap in the same way — he’s not an edge rusher by any stretch of the imagination even when he lines up at DE and he might end up making a permanent switch inside. That’s fine — but are the Seahawks looking for a smaller interior rusher in round one who doesn’t feature in base (and therefore plays a smaller percentage of snaps)?
If the Seahawks want a stout, consistent DE who plays the run well and doesn’t get shoved around — Bullard will do that. He’s a good run defender at DE. He can set the edge and his ability to close is exceptional. When he sees the ball carrier in front he’ll wrap up and finish the tackle. He never misses a tackle — period. He also does a very good job staying disciplined and filling his gap — something the Seahawks cherish.
But he isn’t a special pass rusher. He has a nice athletic profile but is he an 8-12 sack guy like Cam Jordan? I’m not convinced he will be. The Seahawks might be content with a 5-7 sack defender — essentially replacing the lost production from 2015 that they had in 2013-14 with Clinton McDonald and Jordan Hill. The question is — will they see that as worthy of a first round pick?
As an individual with his competitive nature, the chip on his shoulder, the intensity, the discipline and the run defense — Bullard’s a Seahawk. But they also seem to like unique traits in round one with major upside. Bullard, with respect, might only ever be a stout, solid run defender who gets you a handful of sacks a season working inside. It’s possible he might be the type of player they’d happily take at #56 or round three. They might prefer someone with a greater upside in the first round.
Bullard is a really fun player to watch, a guy who is easy to like and he’s not a slouch athletically. He’s a former 5-star recruit and he did well at the combine. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get a good player if you draft him. Is he capable of being a great player though? That’s what the Seahawks would have to consider if they wanted to take him at #26. He might not be special enough to warrant a first day pick.
Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
Here’s how a NFL area scout described Ogbah: “He’s stiff and upright so he has no counters as a rusher and then he doesn’t even play hard all the time. If you are going to be the hulk, then play hard all the time.”
I watched Ogbah vs Kansas State yesterday and this assessment is pretty much spot on. Cody Whitehair basically had his lunch money. Ogbah was happy to be blocked and probably thanked Whitehair for not being too mean. Time and time again the pair engaged, Whitehair contained Ogbah and finished the block. There was no counter, no physicality, nothing.
Oklahoma State adjusted and moved Ogbah to take on the right tackle. He got a sack and did a big boy pose. It’d would’ve been easier to stomach had he not received a wedgie earlier by a guy who will inevitably move to guard or center in the NFL.
His athletic profile is excellent but if Ogbah is going to succeed at the next level he needs to up the ante. He needs to play with more fire, he needs to work on counters and hand placement and he needs to show more effort. It’s tempting to look at a 13-sack season, a 1.5 split and a terrific forty yard dash for his size and get excited. It’s worth noting, however, that despite weighing 15lbs less than Kaufusi, Obgah’s agility testing led to a 4.50 short shuttle and a 7.26 three cone. Kaufusi, as we noted above, had a 4.21 and a 7.03 at 6-6 and 285lbs.