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Does Bronson Kaufusi Have a Chance to Start as Rookie?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens drafted DE Bronson Kaufusi out of BYU in the third round of this year’s draft, with hopes that he would become an elite pass rusher.

He missed minicamp and OTA’s with injury, but will be back for training camp, ready to fight for a starting role.

Kaufusi is a "long, lengthy defensive end, said Fox Sports college football analyst, Charles Davis.

Kaufusi is listed at 6’6", 285 pounds. lists his arm length at 34 1/2 inches. So yes, he is a pretty big guy.

But his size doesn’t mean he lacks for quickness, as he finished atop his position group at the Combine in the 3 Cone Drill, and the 20yd Shuttle. Also, Kaufusi played center on BYU’s basketball team in the 2012-13 season. His experience defending the rim likely means that he has exceptional footwork that he could transfer onto the football field.

Kaufusi got very limited playing time on the court, and as a result, he became a full-time football player. Probably the best choice he ever made.

Over his career on the gridiron, Kaufusi amassed 26.5 sacks, that puts him in the top five in school history. His 44 tackles for loss puts him third all-time at BYU and he set a school record for most sacks in a game when he recorded 3.5 against Cincinnati. Against Missouri, Kaufusi had 10 tackles, three of them for loss, as well as two forced fumbles. He has two interceptions over his career, and one he returned for a touchdown. Plus, he blocked four kicks over his career.

And that brings us to one of his competitors, Brent Urban. Urban has spent most of his career injured. But he came back late last season, and delivered the most thrilling play of the Ravens season, blocking Cleveland’s game-winning field goal, which Will Hill then returned all the way back for a score, winning the game for the Ravens. Urban oozes with potential according to the Ravens coaches. Urban has spent the offseason bulking up, and getting ready to roll come training camp, he is done sitting helplessly on the sideline, he wants to make an impact, now.

The other DE’s on the roster are Lawrence Guy and Kapron Lewis-Moore. Guy, Lewis-Moore, Urban, and Kaufusi all have the potential to start. The problem is the Ravens play a 3-4 defense, meaning that there really is only one spot available for the group. Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan are entrenched starters. The only available spot is the one Chris Canty recently vacated.

The Ravens have yet another competition to look out for. Guy has to be favorite as of now, due to his having much more experience than his competitors, and how well he played when on the field. But Urban flashed potential Cleveland, and as long as he can stay on the field, he is a viable option for the Ravens to roll with. Kaufusi was dominant at times in college. Most mock drafts had Kaufusi going much higher than he did. In other words, it seems the Ravens got a steal. Lewis-Moore is probably the long shot of the group.

With Kaufusi missing minicamp and OTA’s, his competition had a chance to show the coaching staff what they could do. When Kaufusi comes back, he will have to show that his game translates well to the pros to have a shot a starting job.

Bottom line: Kaufusi will absolutely get playing time as a rookie, and he probably has the most potential of the four. But due to the Ravens defensive system, and the guys already in front of him, Kaufusi may find it hard to get the starting job as a rookie. Kaufusi will likely play a similar role to what Guy did last year, coming in every so often to give Chris Canty a break. If Kaufusi can perform well in those opportunities, he will expand his role throughout the season, and possibly start in his second year, if not the end of this coming season.