Last week we took a closer look at Falcons draft picks Malliciah Goodman and Zeke Motta. This week we take a look at fifth round pick TCU DE Stansly Maponga. Maponga had a great sophomore season with 55 tackles, 13 TFL, 9 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. As a junior Maponga stats regressed as he finished with 26 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.
To learn more about Maponga we caught up with Hawkeyed Frog, an associate editor of Frogs O' War, to learn more about the DE that Thomas Dimitroff moved up to select in the fifth round.
Grits Blitz: What was the reason behind Maponga's decline in sacks from 2011 to 2012?
Frogs O' War: Maponga had a down year in 2012 mainly as a result of two factors that weren't really his fault. The first is TCU's d-line had serious issues as a result of the offseason drug bust and All-MWC tackle D.J. Yendrey being kicked off the team, resulting in two freshmen starting and the other DT just a sophomore. Though Freshman Devonte Fields was incredible opposite Maponga, the DT spots took a long time to get settled, leading to a lot of double teams for Maponga in 2012. Second, Maponga dealt with a few nagging injuries, missing two and a half games total and being slowed by a foot and ankle injury after a nasty rollup by a Baylor OL. When healthy Maponga either got double teamed, got held (he led the team in drawing holding penalties by a wide margin) or got to the ball, pretty much all you want out of a DE.
Grits Blitz: What are Maponga's strengths and what will he need to improve on if he wants to contribute at the next level?
Frogs O' War: Maponga's strengths are certainly the pass rush, he has an absolute killer spin move, tremendous upper body strength, a good nose for the ball and a great motor- watch the latter two in action as he chases down Robert Griffin (you may have heard of him), forces a fumble and then continues after it to secure the ball for TCU in 2011- that's the kind of effort he brings on every play. To be an every down contributor in the NFL he's going to have to work on playing the run more consistently- his hurry to rush can often get him swung out wide and leave a lane for RBs to get through. Also if he has another growth spurt it wouldn't hurt.
Grits Blitz: Where do you see Maponga's future in the NFL?
Frogs O' War: Maponga is a player who can be a situational pass rusher in the NFL right now. He has a couple of good moves and tremendous power and his closing speed is excellent when he's healthy. I think he would have benefited from another year at TCU to show what he can do when fully healthy and see about working his way into the third-fourth round mix, while also getting a better feel for run responsibilities. Maponga should grow into a starting level player given time and proper coaching, but that doesn't mean he won't see the field as a rookie either. He doesn't have the highest ceiling as a DE prospect and might be better suited as a 3-4 OLB, but he's the kind of player that I think die hard fans will grow to love fairly quickly. All the best to him and all of you in Atlanta.