The recent New Orleans Saints signing of defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon (“Tawn-oh Pass-n-yo”) packs a lot of potential. The 6-foot-7 near 290-pounder is quite the imposing physical force. His 4.8 second 40-yard dash entering the NFL in 2017 speaks to the additional athleticism that he packs at that size. With his combination of height, weight, and speed, it’s no wonder that the Saints showed some interested in him during his draft process before he was ultimately selected 59th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.
With all those tools, there are certainly still things to be worked on. Body control, tightening of angles, initial moves, etc. But Kpassagnon’s skillset is hard to ignore. Our own Andrew Bell will have a more extensive film study out on the Villanova product later, but for now, I wanted to highlight three plays and three positive traits for the young veteran as he heads to the Big Easy.
Kpassagnon’s first step can be a real beauty and he shows it off in the sack above. No sooner the ball moves, he’s off the line with a full head of steam. There are several examples of this on his tape as well. The Saints love explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. This was a quality on full display at Kpassagnon’s combine as well. Notching a 128” broad jump marked the third-highest NFL Combine broad jump by participants at least 6’0” and 260 pounds.
But you can credit not only his athletic testing but his football IQ here as well. Jumps like this don’t just come from physical ability, they come from spotting tendencies, understanding cadence, etc. One piece of the puzzle.
We should acknowledge that the play above is most definitely a coverage sack. But to fight for nearly nine seconds after the snap here is still a quality display. You can count about three or four times Kpassagnon fails to disengage from his blocker on the interior until he finally ties in the spin move and breaks away from 2020 Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins.
After the hard-fought battle at the line, he has to then chase down and pursue Aaron Rodgers to the outside and does so with relative ease thanks to his speed and length. Two things you just can’t teach.
The Saints have a top-motor player in Cam Jordan on the defensive line, with many of his sacks coming five, six, seven seconds after the snap. Adding another disruptor to the rotation like Kpassagnon is a good benefit for New Orleans. We also see another trademark of making the Saints roster as a defensive linemen in this rep as he has been rotated in to the defensive interior. New Orleans loves versatility.
Speaking of ways to make a Saints roster. Special teams. The field goal block above was Kpassagnon’s second in as many weeks. The week prior he also blocked an extra point which was return for a bonus two points for the Chiefs. Kpassagnon’s size, motor, quickness, and explosiveness all culminate in this big play. You can see him spring off the line, engage his swim move and blow by the offensive lineman. He’s across the plain before some linemen on both sides of the ball are even out of their stance.
The value added conversation continues when you consider his athleticism, which can still afford to be reigned in and more tightly packaged of course, connected to plays as a run defender and disruptor without necessarily finishing with sacks. He’s rushed off of both sides of the defensive line and his 30-inch vertical at his size is perfect for batting passes at the line of scrimmage.
Tanoh Passagnon has a lot of tools that make him unique. With the tutelage of fellow defensive linemen like Cameron Jordan, David Onyemata, and others along with the coaching and development Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen has displayed in his tenure, Kpassagnon could go from being someone unique to being someone special.
For more on the four-year veteran’s development and improvement areas as well as more of what he has to offer, check back for Andrew Bell’s full breakdown in the coming week.
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