Tanoh Kpassagnon is the most obvious player on this list of “second half performers.” Expectations remain high for the Chiefs second round pick from this year’s draft yet he has to really even get going in the team’s defensive game plan to date. The Villanova product was drafted as an admitted work-in-progress and the Chiefs have treated him as such.
However a recent column from Terez Paylor at the Kansas City Star featured an interview with Kpassagnon saying he feels he’s “not that far” from making an impact on the field. That’s good news for a Chiefs team looking for someone—anyone— to step up and fill the role opposite Justin Houston. Tamba Hali is now back and ready to take some reps, so that helps, but as long as Dee Ford’s back has him sidelined, the Chiefs will struggle to get to the passer on a regular basis.
Kpassagnon has to make the jump in competition levels from Nova to the NFL and, with it, learn the nuances of the entire playbook and his opponents. But he’s a very intelligent player by all accounts who had 11 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2016. The Chiefs have an athletic freak devoted to doing the work to become a serious pass rushing threat sometime soon. Perhaps these last seven games will give us a glimpse into that future.