"With the 70th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU." This was an exciting moment for Bronson, and a proud moment for BYU Football and its fans. Kaufusi was on his way to a defensive heavy team, and to a conference that is rich in history, and rivalries. Maybe more exciting was teaming up with former BYU standout Dennis Pitta, and offensive lineman De'Ondre Wesley.
But why did the Baltimore Ravens take Bronson Kaufusi over other positions they desperately need to fill? The taking of Kaufusi was scrutinized because of the dominant linebackers and pass rush the team has had in previous seasons. Some argue that the Ravens should have taken some more secondary help instead of another defensive lineman. So why the risk on the slightly older defensive standout?
The Ravens run a hybrid 4-3/3-4 and love switching it up. They love having players that can move from DE to LB on the fly, and won't struggle with coverage assignments. They like to do this because traditionally they have the linebackers to make this possible like Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, and CJ Mosley.
Last year they lost Suggs to injury, and countless other players that dramatically affected their defense and team. In the offseason they lost Courtney Upshaw to the Falcons. So getting a hybrid player like Kaufusi that can rotate in and out of positions is something they like to have. This can save them roster spots on the front seven, and save some spots on more secondary, and other positions that they will be experimenting with this season.
With the return of their defensive star Suggs, and other key contributors on defense, the Ravens can get to the Quarterback more often. They only got to the Quarterback 24 times last season, ranking 30th in the league. They also ranked towards the bottom defensively on forced fumbles, and tackles for loss on the season. Kaufusi, can help them return to a respectable level on defense.
This is where Kaufusi will have to prove himself the most, and will have most of his opportunities to prove himself. The AFC North is infamous for their special teams, and it's something they all strive to master. It's a pretty big deal, and you see some of the best returners in the game like Antonio Brown, and Travis Benjamin. Oh, and don't forget about Mike Tomlin and his famous interference moment. Bronson Kaufusi will probably run a lot of coverage in punts, kickoffs and field goals. They will use his height, and vertical ability to try to block some more field goals in 2016.
Maturity and Responsibility
Because of the example that Dennis Pitta has impressed on John Harbaugh and the organization, they know that they can trust players from BYU. Sure he might be older than most other rookies, and others with 2 years experience, but they don't have to worry about him in the locker room and outside of practice.
The Ravens are historically known for not dealing with players that create a scene or distract other players (with the exception of Ray Lewis in 2000). They cut Ray Rice the same day his career ending abuse video came out, and offered fans exchanges for his jersey. Harbaugh and Ozzie want to focus on talent and scheme instead of risky talent. They may have some of the biggest trash talkers in Suggs, and Steve Smith but they don't have to worry about them getting in trouble.
In the past year they have only had one player get arrested which is incredible in the NFL. Ironically it was their star linebacker Terrell Suggs getting arrested for driving on a suspended license. Early last year they had two players arrested for DUI/DWI and both have been released since, one of them being released the weekend of his arrest. In short, this is a team that generally won't put up with those who aren't responsible, or focused on the field.
Overall he will be a great fit
Bronson has the talent, and personality that the Ravens really strive to have in their locker room. His multiple talents, and athletic frame will give them plenty of chances to get him on the field, and give him a fair shot at starting. The competition will be there, and will be rigorous from day one as the Ravens signed even more defensive lineman, and linebackers after the draft. However, the Ravens are the organization to reward hard work and dedication. If Bronson is any bit of a hard worker like he was at BYU we should see him take the field more as the season progresses.