Written by Kip Earlywine
Rundown: Jonathan Massaquoi was a strong side 4-3 defensive end for the Troy Trojans of the Sun Belt conference. He is often listed on draft sites as an outside linebacker (strictly for a 3-4 scheme) despite never really playing in that capacity in college.
Age: 23 (May 11, 1988)
40 time: 4.89
10 yard split: 1.64
3 cone: 7.38
Excuse me as I wander though the wilderness a bit, I promise the trek will be quick. A few weeks back, I stumbled across a bit of an insider article at Buffalo Rumblings, the SBN site for all things Buffalo Bills. This was a week or so before free agency. The article cited interviews with Bills general manager Buddy Nix and quoted the Bills beat writer from the official Bills website- basically their version of Clare Farnsworth. I won’t link the article or tell you everything it said, because this is Seahawks draft blog and not Bills draft blog, but the gist of it was that Buffalo wasn’t really interested at all in drafting a pass rusher at #10, despite the fact that nearly every mock draft had them doing exactly that.
Nix is not exactly a subtle man, and he hardly displayed excitement for some of the pass rush names at the top of the draft, while continually going back to what he called (paraphrasing) “one of the better mid-round pass rush draft classes in a while.” Hearing Nix repeatedly talk up mid round pass rushers, it reminded me a bit of how John Schneider kept repeating the mantra about “not panicking” for a quarterback- both GMs wanted to prepare their fanbases for potentially unpopular moves to come. The article came to the conclusion- and from a fair amount of evidence- that Nix actually had his eye on the mid rounds for a pass rusher and would make up for it by going after pass rushers in free agency.
We all know what happened since then. Nix handed out $140 million in contracts for pass rushers, including Mario Williams.
Since then, I’ve wondered exactly which mid round players enticed Buddy Nix back then. Bruce Irvin? Vinny Curry? Jonathan Massaquoi? Buddy Nix might not be the best GM in the business, but looking at some of the names that could be had later- I think he has a point on this one.
So anyway, back to Massaquoi.
- Long arms (34 1/4″)
- Enough bulk and quickness to play either DE spot in a 4-3.
- Occasionally brilliant snap recognition, sometimes explodes into the backfield before offensive linemen come completely out of their stances
- Strong initial burst off the snap (which is backed up by an above average 10 yard split)
- Diverse pass rush repertoire, can attack the edge or collapse with the bull rush
- High motor
- Knows how to penetrate inside
- Stays low and uses good leverage
- Doesn’t keep his eyes in the backfield
- Struggles to fight off run blocking
- Hand use is disappointing given how long his arms are
- Change of direction speed isn’t great (he had one of the slower three cones too)
- Old for a rookie (24 in May)
- Small school competition
- Not much experience as a 3-4 linebacker if teams draft him for it
2010 season video:
In some ways, Massaquoi is a fringe first round talent. In terms of size and length, he’s as good as any defensive end in this draft. His arms were the 4th longest among the 30 defensive ends invited to the combine. He’ll occasionally flash dominance, exploding off the snap and zipping around the edge so fast that the right tackle never stood a chance. Massaquoi has a hint of nastiness to his game too- he’s not afraid to pop quarterbacks, which is really fun- at least until it draws penalties at the next level. He fires off keeping his shoulders low which allows him to get results with a bull rush or inside penetration, so he’s hardly an edge rushing one trick pony. He even blocked a kick on an interior rush last year. If you were to look at how physically gifted Massaquoi is, especially playing for a smaller school, you might assume he had a questionable motor since he could skate by on athleticism. He doesn’t. He gives 100% on every snap. There is something to be said for that.
There is one big problem with Massaquoi though, and its probably why a lot of scouts are projecting him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He doesn’t keep his eyes in the backfield, which often turns him into a liability. Several times a game, running backs will run within arms reach of him, and he won’t even know it happened until its too late. He sometimes also loses sight of the quarterback and will miss opportunities because of it. This is something that is technically coachable- but I wouldn’t hold out much hope of it being corrected. Massaquoi has been playing football for a long time, and even high school level coaches teach defensive lineman to keep their eyes on the ball carrier. He hasn’t developed that skill yet, even after playing football for many years.
If used as a 3-4 linebacker, Massaquoi could attack gaps and edges which would be an ideal situation given his speed, burst, liability against the run and his difficulty seeing beyond blockers. If Seattle is willing to draft Ingram or Upshaw and use them for 3-4 looks, they would presumably be willing to do so for Massaquoi as well.
I do not expect Seattle to draft Jonathan Massaquoi under normal circumstances. I think they will draft Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram or Quinton Coples at #12 and go about the rest of the draft addressing other areas- particularly linebacker and running back. But what if Seattle gets an offer they can’t refuse at the #12 pick? Its unlikely, but if Seattle is offered a trade package that includes a 2013 first round pick, they’d be hard pressed to turn it down (I’m looking at you, Matt Barkley). I’m sure Seattle is preparing for that situation by having a backup plan in place. Massaquoi could be a part of that plan later in the draft.