Bronson Kaufusi, EDGE Defender
Brigham Young University Cougars
Height: 6070 - Listed
Weight: 265 - Listed
Games watched: vs Nevada (2013), vs Connecticut (2014)
Strengths: Bronson Kaufusi is only a Junior, but his 2014 film should be interesting to watch as he's dropped over 20 pounds from his Sophomore season to play a new role standing up in the Cougars defense. Things started off well for Kaufusi vs. UConn; he logged two sacks and was a constant source of pressure in the passing game. As you may expect from a prospect who spent a majority of his time to this point with his hand on the ground; Kaufusi flashes the kind of hand technique that gives him the ability to be effective shedding blockers.
This play is from Kaufusi's heavier days from 2013; but you can clearly see him jolt and then press off this OT before slipping around him for a pressure. This "stack" of a blocker is important because once the space is established (and the longer the wingspan is) the less control an offensive blocker can have on a defender. Given that Kaufusi is listed at 6'7, his reach is likely just as massive which gives him a natural advantage if he plays with his hands as well as he does here. That wasn't the only think about Kaufusi that impressed me at 290 pounds; I was pleasantly surprised by how well he moved along the line of scrimmage.
It's easy to see why the BYU staff felt this was a move that they could have success with; Kaufusi is nimble for 290 going down the line and hurdling bodies on the ground. Continuing with that theme and transitioning into 2014; Kaufusi impressed me with his ability to hug tight on edge rushes.
For 6'7; this is some fairly solid bend he's generating. No one is going to confuse him with an elite boundary pass rusher but getting this level of bend and keeping his pad level down is definitely a plus. And Kaufusi's pass rushing abilities didn't stop there this past weekend; he logged a sack in the red zone with a very nice swim move.
The swim is sudden and it's perfectly timed. He pairs it with a really nice shoulder turn to give the LT absolutely zero surface area to strike with his punch. "Getting skinny" like that is an illustration of the understanding of pass rushing fundamentals. Again, given his history as a down lineman, it shouldn't come as that big of a surprise that he's well versed in this area of his craft.
Weaknesses: While Kaufusi is a surprising athlete at 290 pounds (from 2013), he's not necessarily a plus athlete at 265. He isn't a very explosive player; he doesn't close short areas super quickly nor does he have a dynamic first step off the line of scrimmage. Kaufusi also appears to be tight in the hips moving backwards; any kind of back pedal in zone coverages doesn't serve him well. The good news is; he's experiencing this dynamic of football for the first time; so hopefully as time passes and he acclimates to his new weight and body; some of that may change.
As previously mentioned; Kaufusi is playing a brand new position in a stand up role in 2014 and he's going to experience a number of growing pains. Kaufusi here is given a flat zone coverage and it's a good example.
Kaufusi fakes a rush before dropping off into a zone; but look at his angle. He's taking off laterally out towards the line judge at first before his eyes pick up that the pass is sneaking in behind him. Kaufusi will have to learn to feel that release behind him and identify that there's no player at all in his "area". Doing so would allow him to drop off at a steeper angle and he can either take away this throw or potential get a hand on it if the Quarterback decides to pull the trigger anyway.
It's hard to dole out too much criticism of the fundamentals which such a limited sample size; but this is a great example of something to look for improvement in as BYU gets deeper into their 2014 schedule.
Recap: In all; Kaufusi impressed me with the versatility he's shown as a prospect from 2013 to 2014. I don't think he's going to be best served spending a lot of time in space because he's not naturally fluid opening up his hips or turning to run; but he certainly showed no lack of ability to generate pressure vs. UConn. I'm looking forward to seeing if his body becomes better acclimated to playing at 265 and if we see a little bit more explosion in him. I certainly think Kaufusi has a future playing on Sundays; I'm just not sure where he's best served to do it yet. With a little luck; a larger sample size in 2014 can help us determine that.