Feb 23, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers defensive lineman Kawann Short speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints have what you could call a massive need at the defensive tackle position as the 2013 NFL draft approaches. Luckily, Purdue’s Kawann Short should be available when the time comes for the Saints to make a selection with its No. 15 overall pick.
Defensive tackle is a pressing need for the Saints with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan making the move to a 3-4. As of now, Brodrick Bunkley is penciled in as the starter at nose tackle, but he’s a bit undersized for the role and could use some competition for the starting gig.
That’s where Bunkley comes into play for the Saints in the first round.
Short is a bit undersized as well, but plays much bigger than his billed 6’3″ and 305 pound frame. During his stint at Purdue, Short racked up 186 tackles, 19.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 17 passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
As if those numbers weren’t impressive enough, Short dominated the 2013 Senior Bowl and was named the North’s top player.
You better believe the Saints have interest in Short given his impressive career to date.
According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, the Saints sent five defensive line coaches and Director of College Scouting Rick Reiprish to watch Short’s recent pro day, which he held because he was unable to work out at the Scouting Combine and Purdue’s pro day thanks to a hamstring injury. Short had a very impressive day, as Brandt detailed:
"Short (6-foot-3 3/8, 303 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 5.08 and 5.09 seconds. He had a 27-inch vertical jump and an 8-foot-4 broad jump. He ran the three-cone drill in 7.55 seconds had the short shuttle in 4.65 seconds. He also performed 29 lifts of 225 pounds on the bench press. Short — a two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree — also did positional drills."
Let’s run down the list of good and bad surrounding Short’s game.
Pros: Short has natural size and performed well despite constantly being double-teamed at Purdue. He has amazing feet for a lineman of his stature, which allows him to eat up blockers and open things up for those around him. Thanks to his low base and stellar power, Short can make himself an immovable object when he wants.
Cons: The last phrase should stick out—”when he wants.” Short has games where he looked like the best defensive lineman in college, but others where he simply disappeared. When he flips a switch he’s completely unstoppable, but he has to want it. As NFL Films’ Greg Cosell put it:
Pro Comparison: Domata Peko, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
Credit goes to Rob Rang of CBS for this perfect analysis. Short has a small, but shockingly powerful frame. Combine that with some amazing footwork for a man his size and you have a defensive tackle who can stuff the run and pursue the ball with agility.
If Rob Ryan believes he can get 100 percent out of Short on every down, which is something he is notorious for with his players, than Short is a very realistic option for the Saints in the first round. He fills a big need and makes the players behind him even better as a result.