Aug 24, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Catapano (53) on the field before playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Boom or Bust: Mike Catapano The Pass Rusher

Throughout the off season we will highlight some key players who need to make “a leap” in their quality of play for the Chiefs to make the playoffs in 2014. We’ll call this feature “Boom or Bust.”

John Dorsey loves him some Mike Catapano.

A seventh round pick from last year’s draft, Catapano represents a group of “sleepers” on the Chiefs’ roster who could provide a significant impact for the 2014 Chiefs. If things go the way Dorsey expects, Catapano will be part of the defensive line pass rushing depth the Chiefs so desperately need.

Here’s a clip from of what Dorsey had to say about Catapano from

“Everybody knows he was the Defensive Player of the Year in the Ivy League,” Dorsey said. “What separates him is his intestinal fortitude, his drive, and his effort. When I called him up on the phone and said, ‘Would you want to be the 207th pick in the NFL draft?’ and he goes, ‘I’m not going to let you down, Mr. Dorsey.’ I mean, he’s one of those guys. He’s very passionate about the game. So, he’s going to give you everything he’s got and he’s got enough size and ability to compete.”

Dorsey has been touting Catapano all off season, starting at the NFL Combine back in February. The Princeton grad is 6-3, 290 with a 40 time around 4.75. He’s strong (33 reps of 225 at his pro day), quick (7.09 three-cone), and powerful (9-8 broad jump). There are a lot of raw skills there to suggest he can be a successful defensive lineman in the NFL even if 6-3 is a little bit undersized.

Seth Keysor of Arrowhead Pride came away impressed with him, too.

 I went in with pretty low expectations and came away… well, impressed. In fact, by my count Catapano had multiple “hurries” that PFF missed (again, it’s a very subjective stat).  He’s active. He’s fast. He’s (kinda) powerful. He seems to have a good grasp on the game mentally. I really liked what I saw out of his pass rushing snaps.

Kansas City received next to nothing from their defensive line in the pass rushing game in 2013, and really hasn’t had a good pass rushing defensive lineman since Jared Allen was traded and the team switched to a 3-4 defense. The need for an interior pass rush is critical if the Chiefs are going to take another step forward in 2014.

We talk a lot about the need for the Chiefs to improve their coverage in the secondary, particularly at safety. This is a fair assessment. However, no secondary in the NFL can cover well consistently if there is no pass rush from the defensive front seven. Kansas City’s second half pass rush was virtually non-existent, which happened to coincide with the defense’s inability to cover.

Pro Football Focus credited the Chiefs with 49 sacks in 2013, of which 38 of them came in the first nine games of the season. Breaking it down further, six of the 11 sacks the Chiefs totaled in the final seven regular season games occurred in the Washington game and three more came in the season finale against San Diego. So in five of the final seven games the Chiefs amassed three sacks, and only one the two games against Denver.

This is where Catapano is key. The Chiefs made a move in free agency to improve their pass rush by signing Vance Walker to a deal to replace Tyson Jackson, so the starting defensive line should be more productive in the pass rushing game. But Kansas City needs depth and they do not have much cap space or many draft picks to use to add depth. If Catapano cannot pair with Allen Bailey as the designated pass rusher the defensive line needs then the Chiefs are going to be in a tough spot.

Dorsey seems to have faith Catapano will be the guy.

“He’s one of those relentless warriors you want on your team. I’m excited to see him contribute as we go forward here in the second season for him. I’ve always said all along that those guys make the greatest strides in year one to year two, and I can see great strides coming from Catapano.”

Let’s hope so.

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  • Roger Mihalko

    He is one of the draft’s last year who didnt get hurt a least so that builds faith. I am not sure why you said he is undersized we have nine defensive lineman and 4 OLB’s on the roster and he is same height as all of them except one??

    hope he brings it this year! would be a great help.

  • tm1946

    Seems a little like spin city. 7th rounder passed by 32 teams for 6+ rounds and he is something special, well he better be. Every draft pick that is just another guy or busts hurts this team.
    As for Walker replacing Jackson, a definite up grade but really doubt the Chiefs sat down and said let’s let Jackson walk because Walker is going to be available, yep that is the plan.

  • Hawthorne

    I have higher hopes for Catapano than Bailey, Pioli could not pick DEs. If Bailey doesn’t step it up this year he may be gone. I’d love for us to draft DE Brent Urban in the 4th. At 6-7 with a little development he could be a beast at DE for years to come.

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

      To be fair to Pioli, he wanted run stuffers first from his DE’s. Dorsey has a different focus. However, he also signed DeVito, a classic run stuffer.

  • berttheclock

    The Niners and Seahawks are loaded with lower round picks and undrafted free agents. In fact, Seattle has a former 7th round pick (Geez, that “means all 32 teams passed by for 6+ rounds”) named Malcolm Smith, who ended up being Most Valuable Player for the last Super Bowl. Far more picks are wasted by mediocre GMs in the early rounds, than later picks by talented GMs in the low rounds.

    I still recall a play where Catapano and Houston gave fits to Joeckel, the so-called wonder tackle out of Texas A&M. Houston cut one way, while Catapano cut the other and Houston hit Gabbert split seconds before Catapano.

    Give proper credit where proper credit is due to John Dorsey for drafting the lower round picks, for picking up those lower round picks castoffs from the Seahawks, Niners and other teams. He is not just some schmuck trying to roll the God Damned dice. He is a true professional, which the Chiefs have lacked for years at General Manager.

    • Brian Dempsey

      Well said Bert. The Packers and Seahawks seem to have a habit lately of getting guys that other teams didn’t look at twice, that end up becoming good football players. Sam Shields, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin and there are others, of course. The Chiefs need to follow that trend and let’s hope Dorsey can get it done.

  • berttheclock

    Yes, there are 32 NFL teams, but, only 12 of them were above .500 last season. Six of them were at .500 and 14 were below .500. All had GMs who were well paid and some of them, actually, had decent coaches. But, one reason so many were below .500 was due to lack of quality talent evaluation by their respective GMs. Just wearing a suit and being well paid does not mean the person actually knows how to evaluate talent and build a winning program. Many of them are as lazy as Pioli was in beating the bushes for talent and went with the given. Building a winning team does not come down to just being lucky in rolling the dice. Yes, on occasion, one can be lucky, but, it really takes skill to stay in the game, which is no different than being a professional gambler. Quality guys and gals stay in the game, whereas, the many others just fade away. Dorsey is skillful, as is Baalke, Schneider, Thompson and a few others. Ozzie Newsome’s team went 8-8, but, he has won 2 Super Bowls while rebuilding his team in between. The GM for the Giants has a great deal of skill. The GMs who can not find lower round talent who can come in and play well will never last in the NFL.

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict


      I don’t think it’s fair to say Pioli was lazy. He wasn’t. The big difference is that Pioli thought he was the smartest person in the room and Dorsey leverages the talents of everyone around him.

      • berttheclock

        What I meant by being lazy applied to his seemingly only concentrating on the upper levels of his picks and did not have his scouts beat the bushes for the lower round picks. Therefore, he did not add depth to the Chiefs. His lower round picks were basically just throw away picks. Case in point was that infamous fifth round, where he took Stanzi and Gabe Miller from OSU. Had one of them had a chance to make the team, OK, but, neither one of them ever played. Miller was especially poor because the scouting reports on him were loaded with negatives and very little positives. He went on IR, then, was cut. Both the Bears and the Seahawks tried to make something of him (Seattle switched him to TE) but, both ended up giving up on him. Meanwhile, Richard Sherman and Denarius Moore, the off and on again wide out from Tennessee florished. In fact Moore ended up scoring two TDs against the Chiefs in separate games. There were other picks from that 5th round who ended up playing for various teams in the NFL. Stanzi and Miller were throwaways. Pioli might just as well have mailed it in and gone home after the 4th round. What made that second wasted 5th round pick so egregious was it had been a gift from the league in the Gunther Cunningham tampering incident.

  • Daniel Mayfield

    If Dorsey thinks Catapano can do it, and if he keeps his mind and body focused on getting the spot, he can get it done.
    If he does, that will make such a great step with the DL that KC has needed for yrs.

  • KCMikeG

    Why is it that Dorsey seems to only talk about the Big Cat? I swear he hasn’t started a comment about any other player, only answering when asked about others. He certainly hasn’t been this outspoken in support of any other player. I understand why having spent a good chunk of my summer at camp. Catapano and Josh Martin both stood out to me as players with potential to develop into contributors.

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

      MikeG Is Catapano the second coming of Ernie Ladd? Big Cat 2?

      • KCMikeG

        I like that idea! or Big Cat II? I remember Big Cat and Big, Bad Buck were so big one of their opponents was quoted as saying they blocked out the sun! Those were the days. Why do you think Dorsey has singled him out? I seriously have not heard JD speak of any other player like he has The Big Cat 2. He says the customary nice things GM’s say about players they have invested in or need to get production from they inherited but JD just gushes about him.

  • freshmeat62

    This is going to be an interesting year. D&R are so high on so many of these 2nd and 3rd year guys, Catapano, Rishaw Johnson, Kelse, Commings, Kush, and thinking they can step in and be big contributers. And then there’s Fisher, Stephenson, and Abdullah they expect to fill big holes.

    I have no idea what to expect in this draft or in the upcoming year. All of the hype over these players sure has me enthused. A year from now will we be cheering or cussing D&R?