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Chiefs Add Freakish Defensive End, Ultra-Productive Running Back on Day Two

Posted Apr 29, 2017

The Chiefs selected Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon and Toledo RB Kareem Hunt on Friday

Much like the Kansas City Chiefs’ first-round pick, quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, whose highlight reel is littered with the kind of throws others wouldn’t even attempt, the team’s second-round pick (No. 59 overall)—defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon—is also largely defined on the field by his physical abilities. 

Kpassagnon, who played collegiately at Villanova and finished his senior year with 45 total tackles, including 21.5 for loss and 11 sacks, is a physical specimen at 6 feet 6 and 289 pounds, possessing less than 4 percent body fat as well.

Simply put, Kpassagnon is well-versed in finding the weight room.

“What he’s got is a unique ability to get off the football for as long as he is and he is so strong,” general manager John Dorsey explained Friday night following rounds two and three of the NFL Draft. “You all will see it in training camp how strong he is, but what’s fascinating is his pads get lower every year, and the length that he uses to create separation is impressive.”

Dorsey said Kpassagnon is going to play 5-tech for the Chiefs’ defense, which means he’s more of a defensive end than an edge rusher. He spent time at Villanova doing both. Coming off the edge is where some analysts had him listed heading into this draft.

Citing defensive line coach Britt Reid’s ability to help bring along last year’s top pick—Chris Jones—Dorsey is excited to give Reid another developmental project in Kpassagnon, who looks to be the kind of player you want walking off the bus first.

Kpassagnon didn’t commit fully to playing along the defensive line until his redshirt freshman season in 2013 at Villanova, and a few years later, it all came together for him. He became the first defensive player at Villanova since Howie Long in 1981 to be drafted.

“I think it had to do with learning the game a little bit more,” Kpassagnon explained of his jump in development between his sophomore and junior seasons. “Just me growing, too. I gained more weight and that let me control my body more. My coach also asked me, ‘Why aren’t you dominating our league right now?”

“I felt like that’s all I needed to hear.”

Kpassagnon gained nearly 70 pounds during his five years at Villanova, and Dorsey admitted he believes his frame could get him up to 300 pounds from the 289 he’s at right now, although he didn’t necessarily confirm that was the plan.

“My speed and power, definitely,” Kpassagnon said is his strength. “That’s kind of what has carried me through. I’ll just have to learn a little more technique. I’m just ready to take it to the next level.”

Kpassagnon, whose mother is a chemical scientist and father is an economist, cited her work ethic as being a driving force in his need to be successful. He’s a double-major in finance and accounting.

“My mom, all her success pretty much came from how hard she worked,” he explained. “She grew up in a small little village in Uganda, and her mom, who was a teacher, actually stressed education on her. Long story short, my mom graduated high school in Uganda and came to America for college and grad school. She saw how education got her out of her situation and could provide for me and a lot of people back home.

“She just instilled that in me that education was the road and just hard work in general. I think that’s what really made me the person I am today.”

Kpassagnon has taken two trips over to Uganda, where his mother grew up. He went once when he was 11 years old, and then again when he was 13.

Right now, Chiefs fans are hoping Kpassagnon’s trips result in him getting to the quarterback on a regular basis.

There wasn’t a player drafted over the past two days who was more excited to join the Chiefs than Kareem Hunt, who could barely contain his excitement via a conference call with local media.

The Chiefs traded up with the Minnesota Vikings in order to take Hunt, who became Toledo’s all-time leading rusher after putting up another phenomenal season last year—accumulating 4,945 yards rushing with 44 touchdowns. He had 28 career games of at least 100 yards, which was also a school record.

“I’m definitely excited,” Hunt, who fumbled just once on 856 total touches in college, told the media. “It’s a dream come true. I don’t know what else to say. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.”

“Andy [Reid] turned to me and goes, ‘I thought he was crying on the phone he was so excited,’” Dorsey recalled. “[Hunt] was so emotionally excited. I think he is a very humble kid. He’s from Cleveland. He has had a tough upbringing, but he survived that and he is determined.

“I like guys like that.”

Hunt was so happy he didn’t even know who it was that called him.

“Honestly, I can’t even remember,” he laughed. “I just knew it was the Kansas City Chiefs calling me. My eyes started watering a bit. Honestly, I can’t even remember who one called me.”

When asked to rate his happiness on a scale from 1-10, Hunt couldn’t stay between the lines.

“I’m 20…10…20,” Hunt blurted. “I am so excited. It is a dream come true. I am so happy to be here and I can’t wait to get down there to Kansas City and show them what I can do and be a great asset to the program.”

Hunt was one of the stars of the Senior Bowl back in January, rushing for 118 yards and being named the North team’s MVP.

Over the course of his career, Hunt has averaged an impressive 6.3 yards per rush, while also showing off an ability to be a factor in the passing game as a senior last year—racking up 41 receptions for 403 yards and a touchdown, averaging almost 10 yards per reception.   

“We really like his running style,” Dorsey explained. “We like his contact balance and his ability to run the ball. I think he had 41 receptions this year. Early on, he weighed a little bit heavier than he normally does. He goes to the Senior Bowl, and he displays at around 216 pounds that he is a hard man to stop.

“He’s a pretty good running back. You guys are going to like him.”

Dorsey explained the process to move up to the No. 86 overall spot to take Hunt, which cost the Chiefs a swap of third-round picks (No. 86 to No. 104), a fourth (No. 132) and a seventh-round pick (No. 245), was mainly because they didn’t think he’d be available that much longer.

“We have to go up there and get this running back or else we are going to miss out,” Dorsey recalled. “Take out the top tier running backs and this was the next-best guy on everyone’s list.

“So, we had to go do it and move.”

Dorsey said he had “three or four” running backs in that top tier, but that Hunt was the top guy on that next tier of players.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hunt was “one of the most elusive running backs in this draft class.” He forced 98 missed tackles last season, which was second most in the nation.

For Hunt, the expectance of being selected in the NFL Draft one day wasn’t much of a surprise to him. This is something he’s expected since he began driving a car.

“I’d say my junior year of high school,” Hunt said of the first time he thought he had a good chance of being drafted. “Honestly, I knew I was going to go to college and I believed in myself. I had so much confidence that nobody could stop me.

“I just had a feeling that I’d be able to get drafted.”

Well, Hunt was right, and Dorsey did everything in his power to make sure he landed with the Chiefs—even if that meant giving up a few picks to ensure it happened.

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The Chiefs head into Saturday with four draft picks remaining—two fifth-round selections (No. 170 and No. 180), and two sixth-round picks (No. 216 and No. 218).

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