NFL expert gives passionate defense of Calijah Kancey after being labeled a bust

Bucs rookie Calijah Kancey was labeled a potential bust before he even plays a snap, something one NFL writer took exception to.
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Throughout the entire NFL Draft process, just about every expert had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers using the No. 19 pick to overcorrect and compensate for the loss of Tom Brady.

Some of it made sense, like the predictions that the Bucs would land one of the top offensive tackles in the class. Other stuff, like trading up and mortgaging the future for Will Levis, was pretty cringe.

As it turns out nothing that was predicted in the mock drafts actually ended up happening. All of the top tackles were off the board when the Bucs went on the clock, and Will Levis was available at No. 19 after so many pundits insisted Tampa Bay would need to trade up to get him (spoiler: Levis was a second round pick).

Instead, the Bucs zagged and used the pick on the other side of the ball and on a player not many had the team connected to. Rather than reach for an offensive lineman, the Bucs took a guy who will terrorize them in Pitt pass rusher Calijah Kancey.

Almost as soon as the pick was made, criticism started to trickle in. Overall the pick was generally well received but Kancey’s size has been routinely called out as something that could hold him back. It’s something that led to Bleacher Report recently running a list of potential bust candidates on each NFL team and listing Kancey for Tampa Bay.

NFL writer defends Calijah Kancey after being called a potential bust

NFL expert Thor Nystrom is one of the best writers in the game, and I’m not just saying that because he’s a fellow Minnesotan. Nor am I saying that because he won me over with his passionate defense of Calijah Kancey amid the weird ‘bust’ stuff that went around recently.

Nystrom fights back against the claims that Kancey is too small to have an impact as an interior pass rusher on the Bucs defensive line, noting his quickness is being vastly underrated.

“Who have you seen that plays on the defensive interior line, certainly over the last decade, that has that same level of quickness,” Nystrom said. “As far as the length stuff goes, it’s like they’ll get their hands on [Kancey] first so they get the lead on the rep but what if you can’t touch him? Kancey, even in those close quarters, it is really tough to touch him.”

Nystrom then invoked Mr. Miyagi and the catching flies with chopsticks scene from The Karate Kid to explain just how hard it might be for offensive linemen to account for Kancey’s pass rush.

“You have to be very precise, the timing has to be right. If you screw anything up, he’s by you,” Nystrom said. “If you try to do anything to compensate, you’re now dead to rights and now your quarterback is in danger.”

Kancey’s risk profile is admittedly high, something Nystrom touches on, but he also reinforces something that we mentioned when talking about the whole bust thing — Kancey’s ceiling is incredibly high.

That ceiling is what Jason Licht and the Bucs front office invested in when they used the No. 19 pick on him. There’s always inherent risk when drafting, but Kancey was high on the Bucs board the entire process and the reasons are what Nystrom points out. His size is obviously something worth pointing out, but it wouldn’t be the first time a guy beat the ‘undersized’ allegations and reminded us that a lot of Draft Speak is exactly that: just talk.

It’s up to Kancey to prove everyone wrong, and Bucs fans will happily sit alongside him for the ride.