The Kansas City Chiefs appeared to be done with the draf until they traded a 2021 draft pick to get one last pick in the sixth-round. That made the fifth-round selection at 177th overall the second-to-last pick of the weekend — and they decided to address one more position on defense.
Former Michigan defensive lineman Michael Danna got the call from Kansas City to potentially add depth to the front seven. There is one word that instantly comes to mind when describing him.
“Versatility,” Danna proclaimed when asked his own play during Saturday’s conference call. “Being able to pass rush or if I have to drop back in coverage, I’ll do that. I’m a hard nose football player, bringing my physicality to the football field every time I step on it.”
His one year at Michigan came after his college career initially started in Central Michigan — and it featured a change from his familiar edge position.
“He played inside at Michigan, I think he’s actually 6’2’ 257 [pounds],” Chiefs area scout Pat Sperduto explained in his media availability. “He was as big as 270 [pounds] at Michigan, he was closer to the 255 [pounds] mark at Central [Michigan]. That’s the great thing about this kid, he’ll do what you ask him to do if you want him to put on a little bit of weight and want him to shift in to 3-tech in sub packages, I’m sure he can do that. I think his natural position is gonna be a defensive end for us.”
Danna reflected on his short time at Michigan with fond feelings:
“That year at Michigan, I learned a lot of technique and fundamentals. Rehearsing that over and over again each week, and mastering it at a certain point, it was great. That year was very beneficial to me I wouldn’t change it for nothing.”
“You watch him at practice at Michigan,” Sperduto began. “He’s going just as hard, if not harder, cause he has to prove himself, in his mind, all over again. I think that’s kind of what we’ll get when he walks through the door.”
Danna may be a hard worker, but he does not fit the physical profile of a typical defensive end for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. He doesn’t have the desired length or anchor to set a firm edge in run defense. If it sounds like I’m doubting him, that very well may be what fuels him the most.
“I respond to adversity,” Danna declared. “Not being able to have a pro day cause of the whole pandemic, then not getting a combine invite. All that played a huge role in who I am and I wouldn’t want to be in any other position.”
It sounds like the Chiefs saw the potential, and had their opinions confirmed with a good year playing increased competition.
“Mike is a guy that you knew, when he made that jump to Michigan, I wanted to see him go against the next tier of competition,” Sperduto admitted. “We got to see what he did, and it was the same type of stuff. You could see his strength, his power, his explosion through his hips, and we kind of knew, this was still a really good football player.”
His stock began to rise after a good showing at the East-West Shrine Bowl — and Danna was well aware.
“That East/West shrine bowl was huge,” Danna excitedly pointed out. ”I think that played a huge part in the position that I’m in right now. Going into that shrine bowl, I knew I had to have a really good week. I knew what was at stake, I had to show up. I feel like that whole week I did what I had to do and took care of business the right way and it paid off.”
As for his future with the Chiefs, you can already hear his excitement about playing among stars:
“You can’t beat it. Playing with Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu. There’s a bunch of premier football players. To be in my position, it’s a blessing, and I can’t wait to take the field with them.”
If versatility is his game, then he’ll need to succeed in multiple facets to earn his spot on the 2020 roster. Only time will tell if he can do that, but Sperduto is confident they’ll find a way.
“However the defensive staff decides to use him, he’ll adapt to it,” Sperduto predicted. “He’s the kind of guy that will adapt to any role you give him.”