Long Island native Mike Catapano is back home and in green, and I'm excited about it.
Catapano was one of the most intriguing late round prospects in the 2013 draft. After winning the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012, the former Princeton Tiger ended his senior season with 12 sacks, 15.5 TFL and 3FF in 10 games.
Catapano first caught my attention during the East West Shrine Game, in which coaches commented on how "teachable" he was and compared him to DE Justin Smith. His athleticism, high-motor and level of aggression he plays with stood out to me. So much so that David Wyatt and I mocked Catapano to the Jets in the 7th Round in our 2013 Gang Green Nation Mock Draft.
Local Long Island native Mike Catapano’s name has been heard more and more since impressing many at the East West Shrine Game. He’s a long lean athletic pass rusher who led the Ivy League with 12 sacks and ranked 9thnationally with 15.5 tackles for a loss. His speed and explosiveness is beyond impressive. He’s fierce with his hands, and does a great job of tracking the football and chasing plays. His best asset? That’s simple: he’s been a Jets fan since the age of 8. (DB)
Mike Catapano ended up being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh-round, just 8 spots before the Jets grabbed Tommy Bohanon. He played 15 games as a rookie in 2013, but spent the 2014 season on the injured reserve list due to a viral condition and concussion.
When asked about this upcoming season, Catapano has made it clear that he's worked harder than ever this offseason to get his body in top form.
"I'm on a new level," Catapano said. "I really am. I've used this time to really take my body and to a place I've never been before. I'm feeling really good out here."
"I think I'm the leanest, meanest, 290 (pounds) in the NFL right now."
Despite gaining praise this preseason from teammates like ex-Jet Mike DeVito, and leading all Kansas City defensive players with 4 QB hits, the Kansas City Chiefs decided to release Mike Catapano during their final roster cuts before the regular season.
Catapano's release was a big surprise to many Kansas City fans. The rationale behind his release seems to be mostly due to the inability to find a good fit for him in their 3-4 defense. His lack of versatility, which is greatly needed due to Dontari Poe's injury compared to other players on the roster can also be a factor. When asked about Catapano's release Reid said. "I think on the outside, boy, if we were playing a 4-3, he could just charge from there. Whoever gets him, I think they’re getting a good football player..."
Cat accelerates to the QB very quickly when he beats an OL. Really explosive, agile athlete for his size. pic.twitter.com/HGOC22Cymd— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) August 22, 2015
So how does this local player fit on the Jets? His best fit is as a rotational pass-rushing DE, though testing his ability as an interior pass rusher could continue too. While Jets fans can expect a base 3-4 scheme, Todd Bowles isn't afraid to switch schemes depending on the opponent as well as adapting defensive looks to play to the strengths of his players.
Catapano a.k.a "Big Cat" (now we have two) is a physical freak, and his athleticism at 290 pounds is what makes him so intriguing to watch. He is super fast and explosive for his size. For me, there's always room on the practice squad for a guy like Catapano that is young, plays with aggression, and can be coached up.
And let's be honest, the real reason to be excited? We will NEVER have to worry about Mike ordering pizza from Dominos.