Steve Spagnuolo Compares Chiefs DE Mike Danna to Former All-Pro

Getty Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna.

Though the overall performance of the Kansas City Chiefs defense has been poor this season, one player that has stuck out due to his improved play is second-year defensive end, Mike Danna.

Danna, a 2020 fifth-round pick of Kansas City, has been one of the more impactful pass-rushers for the Chiefs through the first four weeks of the regular season. During that time span, he has recorded 11 total pressures, which includes five hurries, three sacks, and three quarterback hits, per PFF. Danna leads the team in sacks, with one more than Chris Jones (2) and two more than Derrick Nnadi and L’Jarius Sneed (1). Danna’s production has been incredibly handy to start the season, as the Chiefs were without Frank Clark for Weeks 1, 3, and 4 due to a hamstring injury that Clark has been dealing with since the preseason.

While Danna has already tied his season-high in sacks from last season, what might be more impressive is who his coach, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, compared him to prior to Kansas City’s Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills.

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Spags: Danna, Dumervil Built the Same

Spagnuolo was asked during his Thursday, October 7 press conference about Danna’s play, and if he expected to see this jump in production coming from him in Year 2.

“Well, I’ll tell you what — I give credit to the coaches, Brendan [Daly] and Terry [Bradden], that work with him, and I give credit to Mike,” Spags said. When you say ‘Did I see it coming?’ — it’s hard to tell, but always anticipated it could, is probably a good way to say it. Mike is one of my favorite guys, because from chin to the hairline really smart, and everything inside of here (points at chest) as far as heart is really good.”

Spagnuolo was then asked what he may have seen from Danna — who is currently 6-foot-2, 261 pounds, per PFF — coming out of Michigan that made the Chiefs think he could be a productive pass-rusher in the NFL.

“Again, I think it goes back to the work he’s put in, but 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,” Spags explained. “Sometimes that guys with the leverage underneath and the long arm rushers that Mike has, and Elvis revolutionized 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.”

Even though Kansas City’s defensive coordinator was only comparing the body size of Danna to Dumervil — who was a two-time All-Pro and recorded 105 sacks during his career, per Pro Sports Reference — the fact that Spags connected the two players in his own brain may speak volumes to the potential of Danna.

Danna on Year 2 Improvements

Prior to the Chiefs’ 42-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in which Danna recorded two sacks and two tackles for loss, the second-year defensive end was asked during a press conference on  Friday, October 1, what he felt he’s improved on since his rookie season.

“From last year I feel like football IQ definitely went up and being situationally aware of things pre snap,” he said. “Reading offenses, stuff like that, pre snap keys and of course strength and conditioning is always improving each year and I try to better myself in those terms too.”

He also spoke about his improvements specifically as a pass rusher.

“Definitely. That was part of the routine and I put a lot of time into that,” he said. “Like I said I worked a lot on the fundamentals to master that and I’m still trying to improve on that each day and become better at that. I feel more comfortable pass rushing, working edges, speed or power, one of the two just using either or.”


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