KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs moved to bolster their depth along the defensive line in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft, selecting defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon from Villanova.
The 22-year-old Kpasssagnon picked 11 sacks among his 27 tackles as a senior playing primarily as a rushing end in 3-4 defense. He totaled 22 sacks in his career. General manager John Dorsey envisions Kpassagnon as a five-technique defensive end lining up outside the tackle.
The 6-foot-7, 289 defensive lineman demonstrated his raw athletic talent at the NFL combine. He ran a 4.83 40-yard dash and ranked second in the broad jump, tied with first overall pick Myles Garret at 10-feet, 8-inches.
Draft analysts praised Kpassagnon for his physical skills while conceding he needs seasoning and development. CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout tagged Kpassagnon as a third or fourth round prospect.
Villanova plays at the FCS level of the NCAA, and earned first team honors in the Colonial Athletic Association. Kpassagnon said he understands the huge leap in talent and competition he faces making the jump to the NFL.
“What I’ve heard is that you’ll see how much time and how much work people put into it and the results will show,” Kpassagnon said.
Dorsey regularly finds small school gems in the draft, such as guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from McGill in Canada and running back Charcandrick West from Abilene Christian.
He sees progression year-to year from Kpassagnon that illustrates he possesses the intangibles to make the move to the NFL seamlessly.
“If you have athletic traits, and you have the want to be really good and you have good, quality coaches, that transition should be pretty easy,” Dorsey said.
Kpassagnon — whose name is pronounced Tawn-oh pass-N-yo — earned a dual degree in finance and accounting, and he served an internship at Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
The young Kpassagnon played soccer as a kid before choosing to play football in the sixth grade and quickly fell in love with the game. During his sophomore and junior year he began to believe and NFL career lay within his reach.
“My teammates who went through the process or just teammates who came in with were telling me, ‘Yo, look at you, you can do it. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t,'”
He did not work out for the Chiefs and had only a few conversations with the team ahead of the draft.
“They didn’t show as much interest I guess as other teams,’ Kpassagnon said. “They showed interest but not as much. It’s kind of a surprise.”