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2019 NFL Draft Profile: Corbin Kaufusi can provide late round value for Matt Patricia’s defense

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Trying to find a fit in Matt Patricia’s defense can be difficult, but some guys stand out specifically for how well they fit the scheme, like BYU’s Corbin Kaufusi

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Utah Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Not every draft pick is going to be a superstar from day one. In fact, most draft picks never become stars, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t successful picks. If you draft a guy in the 6th round and he grows to become a pro bowl alternate like Quandre Diggs, that’s a hugely successful pick. If you pick a guy in the 6th or 7th round and you end up with a rotational player who puts in hundreds of snaps per season for several years, that’s still a successful pick. So when you’re looking outside of the early round picks, you’re trying to find not only guys who have the potential to become starters or stars with some development, but also players who can help your team in more traditional ways. You’re looking at guys who can be role players, and that brings us to our prospect for today, Corbin Kaufusi.

Corbin Kaufusi, Brigham Young, DE

Height: 6090 (6 feet, 9 inches) | Weight: 275 pounds

2016 Stats: 18 Solo Tackles, 31 Total, 2.5 Sacks, 1 PD
2017 Stats: 36 Solo Tackles, 67 Total, 6.0 Sacks, 1.5 TFL, 2 FF, 2 PD
2018 Stats: 37 Solo Tackles, 55 Total, 7.5 Sacks, 1.0 TFL, 1 PD

NOTE: Sacks removed from TFL totals

Current Draft Projection: Seventh Round/Priority Free Agent

Background

Some notes from his team profile here.

Corbin Kaufusi comes from a solid football family. His father, Steve Kaufusi, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 12th round (yeah, there used to be 12 rounds) of the 198 draft while his brother Bronson was drafted in the 3rd round by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016 and played most recently with the New York Jets. His uncle Rich played for BYU and his son Tangaloa (Corbin’s cousin) played linebacker at Stanford. There are a bunch of other relatives who played for BYU, which has several unique recruiting paths that apparently link directly to the Kaufusi family tree. Like his brother, Corbin is a multi-sport athlete, playing both football and basketball for the Cougars. Like many other LDS prospects from BYU, he served on a mission for several years and thus will enter the NFL a bit older and is currently 25.

Strengths

Kaufusi has size and length for days. Normally when you see a guy listed at 6’9”, you think it’s an exaggeration, and while it often is I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s closer to 6’’10” than 6’9”. He generally uses his generous wingspan well, taking up a ton of space and clogging a wide area in the run game. His strength and technique as a tackler are both strong, so that length makes him an unappealing target for a rusher trying to get through the line. In terms of motor, we’re not talking about a high speed Ferrari, but more like a solid John Deere, a guy who’s always running and ready to work. Most tall pass rushers struggle to deal with cut blocks, but Kaufusi does an admirable job handling attempts to cut him low and usually maintains his balance.

Weaknesses

Corbin doesn’t seem to possess the same elite athleticism that his brother displayed at BYU and often appears stiff and slow. His initial burst can be impressive at times, but he fails to take advantage of his length often enough that his initial win is often short lived. He lacks a wide range of pass rushing moves and counters, appearing to favor bull rush alone, which can be a hindrance with his tendency to play upright. A guy that tall playing too upright can be a hefty boon to blockers trying to move him as it can put him off balance. Possesses typical 3-4 end athletic traits, which includes a noted lack of speed.

Position Specific Traits

Pass Rush

Statistically, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Kaufusi is primarily a pass rusher and not a run defender, but his pass rushing success is primarily due to a case of a guy using the same moves over and over and eventually wearing down the guys blocking him enough to win with it. His tremendous length means a quarterback can’t simply use his blocker to shield him from the defender while trying to dodge around, and his tackle zone is quite impressive. Without a repertoire of moves at his disposal, talented tackles neutralized him fairly easily.

Run Defense

While he didn’t rack up tons of tackles for loss, Kaufusi’s impact in the run game is similar to how a tight man cover corner can impact the passing game simply by making it unappealing to target him. Kaufusi covers a wide range and is able to make his run lanes difficult to get through. There were a few times, however, when teams would run at him after a few plays double teaming him and the runner would get by unopposed as Kaufusi focused too hard on the blocker than the ball carrier, which could hint to getting frustrated and letting blockers get in his head. In general, his wide wingspan and large frame gave him such an advantage that BYU would move him around the defensive line, have him play with hand in the dirt or upright, and even play him at middle linebacker similar to how they used Ezekiel Ansah to take advantage of his space eating size.

Athletic Ability

Bronson Kaufusi was described in many of the same terms regarding his stiffness and lack of speed, but still measured out just above elite range athletically in large part due to his size and a surprisingly great showing in agility drills. I don’t think Corbin is nearly the athlete that his brother was, but speed is likely close to the same somehow superior size. All in all, I think Kaufusi is another guy who gets looked at as a ‘good for his size’ type of athlete more than how he measures overall.

Personal Projection

Corbin Kaufusi is projected to be drafted in the 7th round or to be a priority free agent signing for a team, which loosely translates to “Will be at an NFL training camp or two” in draft speak. In reality, it means he’s a guy who could get drafted as high as the 5th round if he measures well and some team falls in love with him for more than his traits as a role player or go undrafted and get his pick of several teams that show interest in seeing him compete in camp. For the Lions, I could see them taking a swing on a player like him with one of their last picks and he’d even have a fair shot at making the final roster. With Romeo Okwara the entrenched starter at defensive end and Ziggy Ansah likely departing, there’s not only room to compete for a spot but potentially to start, which would have to be appealing.