Pittsburgh Steelers’ 20 prospects in 20 days: Villanova DE, Tanoh Kpassagnon

The cover32/Steelers' writing team is counting down 20 prospects in 20 days; prospect number three is Villanova DE, Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Jan 26, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad offensive tackle Conor McDermott of UCLA (68) battles defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon of Villanova (92) during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 26, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad offensive tackle Conor McDermott of UCLA (68) battles defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon of Villanova (92) during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

As one may be able to surmise from the title, the Steelers32 writing team will be enlightening readers with 20 NFL prospects in the next 20 days before the NFL Draft. As this series continues, the team will focus on a freakish athlete to replace the oldest, meanest linebacker in the game.

In order for the Steelers to replace one of this writer’s favorite players, James Harrison, they would need to look toward a work-out warrior and freak of an athlete. They would need to look toward our third prospect in our series, Tanoh Kpassagnon (Tawn-oh pass-N-yo), a defensive end from Villanova University.

Evidently, according to Walterfootball.com, the Steelers already have met with Kpassagnon multiple times; including a personal workout. Perhaps the Steelers executives are already privy to how bad ass this young man is.


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Obviously the Steelers want more years out of Harrison; yet father-time is undefeated and drafting Kpassagnon would be a great start.


Kpassagnon is a physical marvel to behold; his NFL scouting combine measurements are astounding. Measuring at a towering 6-feet-7-inches tall and weighing 289 pounds one would guess he should be playing basketball. However, with running a 40-yard dash in 4.86 seconds, the consensus All-American is everything you would want your 3-4 outside linebacker to be.

Kpassagnon introduced himself to the world as a junior with 33 tackles, 9.5 of which went for a loss. The freak of an athlete also added 6.5 sacks, two blocked kicks, one forced-fumble to go with a fumble-recovery and an interception. This effort earned Kpassagnon his first selection to the All-Colonial Athletic Association team.

As a senior, having announced himself the year before, Kpassagnon just started balling. His senior season read like one of a created player for Madden to the tune of 45 tackles, 21.5 of which went for a loss, 11 sacks, two forced-fumbles and a blocked kick.

What does the film say?

Absolutely make sure every one of your children is asleep before viewing any footage of this monstrosity as they may never sleep again, should they see it. While it will be said that he stat-piled against weaker competition, it begs the question is it his fault nobody was able to step up?

Undoubtedly, Kpassagnon’s size and strength show up immediately when viewing any highlights or game film. However, his quick first step may be the asset that allows him to succeed at the next level. The fact that the 23-year-old defensive standout will be one of the oldest prospects only shows as a positive due to his knowledge of the position.

As with most prospects, Kpassagnon is not without his flaws. The Pennsylvania kid tends to play stiff at the point of attack, making it easier for backs and linemen to chip him to lose his balance. Although a plus when blocking kicks, his lengthy frame makes it hard for him to bend down to meet ball-carriers and dipping under linemen.

The major knock on Kpassagnon is his raw technique needs a lot of work; however, it didn’t stop him from putting in that work up at Villanova.

Bottom line

The book on this kid would suggest he can not only play defensive end, but is also athletic enough for him to stand up and play in space. At least one of the book’s chapters would also make reference to him being a weak side edge defender, a position held by Harrison.

Currently, Kpassagnon’s stock is a third or fourth-round talent, according to cbssports.com. Should his landing-spot be Pittsburgh, Kpassagnon would benefit from sitting behind Harrison and learning from Joey Porter; how’s that for a rich-getting-richer scenario?


Kpassagnon’s rawness can be overcome with practice and repetition. Playing too high is a result of a combination of things; being 6-foot-7 inches and long legged makes getting his pad level down much more difficult.

If Kpassagnon fell to the Steelers in the fourth round, one would assume the person making the selection would not hesitate to select the Villanova star. Kpassagnon has all the makings of a steel curtain defender; the size, the speed and the power. With the proper seasoning he could be a monster for years to come.

Philip Robinson covers the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers for cover32.com. Be sure to follow P-Rob on Twitter if you dare.

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