Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo sees shades of Elvis Dumervil in Mike Danna’s play
Few NFL coaches have better input about pass-rushing talent than Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and his quotes on second-year lineman Mike Danna ahead of Thursday’s practice raised some eyebrows.
Speaking to reporters about Danna’s development, Spagnuolo deferred credit to his staff for the defensive end’s exceptional play in relief of Frank Clark, and he said the former fifth-round pick has all the makings of a great contributor.
“I’ll tell you what, I give credit to the coaches Brendan [Daly] and Terry [Bradden] that work with him. I give credit to Mike [Danna],” He explained when asked if he thinks Danna had taken a step forward in the pass rush, “When you say that I see it coming, it’s hard to tell, but always anticipated that it could. That’s probably a good way to say it. Mike’s one of my favorite guys because it’s chin to the hairline, really smart and everything inside his heart is really good.”
Another question arose about what Spagnuolo saw in Danna when the team drafted him last season. While focusing on the physical attributes he brings to the table, the coordinator made a comparison to a former All-Pro defensive end that seems particularly apt given Danna’s performance in recent weeks.
“It goes back to the work he’s put in,” Spagnuolo said of Danna’s pedigree coming out of Michigan last year, “The prototypical D-end is the 6’4”, 6’5”, long arms and that’s not Mike [Danna], but I worked with Elvis Dumervil when I was with the Baltimore Ravens and Elvis was built pretty much the same way.
“Sometimes [those] guys with the leverage underneath and the long arm rushers that Mike has,” He continued, “Elvis revolutionized [that] in my opinion, I think Mike’s been able to take things a step further in doing some of that stuff. We always say this about pass rush, 20 percent technique, 80 percent want. Mike always has the 80 percent want.”
Dumervil was listed at 5-11 and 250 pounds, but he became a five-time Pro Bowler, a two-time First-Team All-Pro and led the league in sacks in 2009. To be compared to Dumervil is high praise, especially for a player that has only recently come into his own. If Danna can continue to improve his game and build on the momentum that seems to have come easily to him through four games, he could end up being a primary contributor on a defense that desperately needs more playmakers.