Raiders UDFA player profile: DT Kurt Taufa'asau

Troy Babbitt-US PRESSWIRE

The Raiders signed just one undrafted defensive tackle this year. His name is Kurt Taufa'asau out of Wyoming.

The native Samoan earned his way onto the football field all the way from New Mexico Military College to finally becoming the full time starter at Wyoming in his senior season. But that senior season saw a couple of devastating injuries that derailed what was supposed to be his season to prove he was worthy of a place in the NFL.

He broke his hand in the second game of the season but after missing just one game, he returned to play with a cast on his right arm. Upon his return, cast and all, he led all Cowboy defensive linemen with six tackles including one for a loss and a pass breakup.

Taufa'asau played one-handed most of the season - five games to be exact. Then, the DAY after getting the cast removed, he suffered a knee injury in practice that knocked him out for the final four games of the season.

His numbers as a senior understandably dipped from his junior season. But even though he played in just one full game healthy (season opener versus Texas) and five games with a club on his right arm, he still managed to put up 22 tackles including 1.5 for a loss and a pass defended.

The 6-2, 296 pound defensive tackle has put on bulk since transferring to Wyoming in 2010. He was 284 pounds prior to his senior season and weighed in 12 pounds heavier at his Pro Day two months ago. The Raiders list him at 300 pounds which is possible at the rate he has been packing on the pounds.

For his size, Taufa'asau has not been as much of a pass rush threat as one would hope he would be. If he is to make it at the NFL level he will have to prove he can be a run stuffer first and foremost. And with some coaching, perhaps he can develop into a disrupter in the middle.

The funny thing is, the Raiders biggest need coming into the draft was defensive tackle. Some, including myself, had their sights set on another Pacific Island defensive tackle -- Star Lotulelei. But the Raiders had other ideas. They waited until the bottom of the sixth round to grab one -- Oklahoma's Stacy McGee. They then made Taufa'asau their only defensive tackle picked up in undrafted free agency. As mind boggling as that is, it has the defensive tackle position one of the more attainable on the team.

Taufa'asau has much to prove to the Raiders considering how little playing time he has against even marginal competition. He will get the reps and have plenty of opportunity to win a spot but it's anyone's guess if he can take advantage of it.

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