One of the things Kansas City absolutely had to improve in the offseason was the depth of the pass rush. After an injury to Justin Houston and a fall-off from Tamba Hali, the Chiefs pass rush simply didn’t exist. This was especially true of the Chiefs loss to the Colts in the playoffs when Bob Sutton could not find anyone to generate a second pass rush wave.
Part of the Chiefs problem was solved in the first round of the draft when they selected Dee Ford with the 23rd overall pick. But one player isn’t going to be enough in order to develop the secondary pass rush the Chiefs so desperately need. This is where Mike Catapano comes in.
Rumors of Catapano’s strength and weight gain over the offseason were proven true when he showed up to OTA’s at a bulked up 291 pounds. He was 271 pounds when he initially came to the Chiefs last May. The added 20 pounds has been down without sacrificing his quickness and speed. This has caught some people’s attention, including teammate Mike DeVito. Here’s what he told Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
“It’s unbelievable that jump he’s made from last year to this year,” said veteran defensive end Mike DeVito. “Usually, you see a guy put on 10-15 pounds and slow down a bit. It’s not the case (here). He’s more explosive and faster than ever. Mike’s going to be a dangerous weapon, and I’m glad we have him on our side.”
Obviously adding some weight and coming into OTA’s in great shape would suggest Catapano has a desire to be a better player, but, as Paylor expresses in his article through a few quotes, there appears to be a huge passion driving Catapano.
Chuck Smith, who has been Catapano’s trainer:
“There’s never been a player I can remember that has ever put in the effort and trained like Mike Catapano,” Smith said. “I have a 100-percent belief that Mike is going to be an absolute huge fan favorite out there with effort he gives and the way he plays.”
“So I have a goal (for this season), and it’s definitely a high goal. People say ‘Oh, you made the team, you played substantially last year,’ and I just roll my eyes at that stuff. People have no idea what’s gonna come. I’m excited.”
Well okay then.
The Chiefs pass rush, in theory, should be deeper this season with the additions of Vance Walker and Ford. One guy on the edge to spell Hali or Houston and another guy on the inside to take advantage of the one-on-one matchups created due to Dontari Poe’s presence. But if the Chiefs could add Catapano to the mix then things get really interesting.
If the Chiefs can go from Hali and Houston or bust to Hali and Houston, Walker and Poe and Ford, Catapano and Allan Baily, then the defense just got significantly better. Hopefully this theory comes true.