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6062 285 4.89
Wissahickon High School
Villanova has not produced an NFL prospect as exciting as Tanoh Kpassagnon since the Philadelphia Eagles selected Brian Westbrook 91st overall back in 2002. Kpassagnon, whose full name is pronounced tawn-o pass-N-yo, likely will not have to wait that long.
NFL teams are notorious for falling in love with unique athletes and Kpassagnon certainly is that, maintaining track star acceleration despite packing on nearly 70 pounds of muscle over a college career that culminated with his winning the Colonial Athletic Association's Defensive Player of the Year and an invitation to the prestigious Senior Bowl.
It took time for Kpassagnon to grow into his frame and learn the subtleties of the position, which is why he redshirted in 2012 and recorded just 15 tackles in 11 games a year later. He was limited by injury as a sophomore but flashed playmaking ability, with five of his 12 tackles on the year coming behind the line of scrimmage, including 3.5 for sacks. Healthy as a junior, Kpassagnon earned First Team All-CAA honors with 33 total tackles (21 solo), a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss, a team-best 6.5 sacks, two blocked kicks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one interception while starting all 11 games. That just hinted at the success coming in 2016 when he registered career-highs in virtually every category, including tackles (45), tackles for loss (21.5) and sacks (11), as well as another two forced fumbles and a blocked kick.
Sure, Kpassagnon's production was inflated by inferior competition, but scouts are drooling over his blend of length, burst and power. With the Villanova coaches raving about Kpassagnon's commitment to maximizing his potential, he is a lottery ticket that could pay off big.
STRENGTHS: Blessed with a remarkable combination of size and explosiveness that simply screams NFL. Possesses an imposing frame with broad shoulders, long arms and a sculpted physique that testifies to his commitment to the weight room. Fires off the ball, routinely blowing past offensive tackles with his initial burst to the outside. Complements his speed rush with an effective counter back to the inside off of a strong jab step. Strong hands to rip through the reach of tackles, slapping them away. Good flexibility and core strength to fight through contact on his way to the backfield, including through double-teams. Prototypical wingspan for the position, using his long arms to reach out to knock the ball free from quarterbacks, disrupt passing lanes, block kicks and drag down ball-carriers while still engaged with would-be blockers. Voted a team captain and is highly respected by the Villanova coaching staff and teammates for his commitment towards maximizing his potential on and off the field. Signed with Villanova in part due to its academics. A three-time member of the CAA All-academic team with one degree earned last May in finance and another on the way in accounting. Appears to be just scratching the surface of his potential.
WEAKNESSES: Undeniably a project and one whose success has come against inferior competition. Almost too quick for his own good, too often blindly rushing upfield only to allow ball-carriers to escape past him on draws and screens. Attempts to spin away from double-teams, losing sight of the ball and effectively taking himself out of the play. Possesses an explosive burst and accelerates smoothly but tires quickly and does not always pursue laterally or downfield with the reckless abandon scouts would prefer... Struggled with a heavily wrapped thumb injury in the final game of his career for Villanova, a 10-7 loss to South Dakota State - an injury that obvious will require a close look from medical personnel at the Combine.
IN OUR VIEW: Simply put, freakish athletes like Kpassagnon don't last long on draft day, especially those with the size to play virtually any role in the front seven. Pair him with a creative defensive coordinator and Kpassagnon could join Westbrook as a rare difference-maker in the NFL out of Villanova.
COMPARES TO: Jason Pierre-Paul: Comparing Kpassagnon to Pierre-Paul, a two-time Pro Bowler, might seem like hyperbole but he too was quite raw as a one-year starter out of South Florida back in 2010. Kpassagnon has a long ways to go before warranting this comparison but few - even in the NFL - possess his combination of length and explosiveness.