Van Noy can make an immediate impact in the NFL as an edge rusher. He showed his pass-rushing ability by compiling 13 sacks in his junior season, and has a combination of athleticism, pass-rush moves and motor which will translate.
As previously mentioned, he accelerates to top speed quickly, and he anticipates the snap well. His pass-rushing moves still need to develop, but he has shown that he can beat blockers not only around the edge with his speed, but also by putting an inside move on them.
He has quick feet. One of his effective moves is to step once to his outside then quickly moving inside, which gives him enough time to beat a blocker inside with his speed if he catches the blocker off-guard. He is also active with his hands and can beat blockers with his over-the-top inside swim move. His spin move, however, is not very effective.
When Van Noy beats his blocker initially, opposing quarterbacks are in trouble. He is faster than most quarterbacks, and takes great angles in pursuit, which makes it very challenging for quarterbacks to escape his rush.
He does not have the full arsenal of power moves typical of a star pass-rusher. What makes Van Noy special as a pass-rusher, however, is his ability to recover when he does not initially beat his blocker.
Quarterbacks must be careful about allowing a play to develop for too long against Van Noy, as he combines a great motor with the speed to track down a quarterback when he finds a second lane. He is also very good on delayed rushes, when he hangs back at the line of scrimmage but then chases a quarterback into the backfield when a play breaks down.
The subsequent series of screenshots demonstrates a prime example of Van Noy using his motor and speed to make a big play as a pass-rusher.
San Jose State quarterback David Fales had plenty of time in the pocket initially, as Van Noy’s attempt to rush wide around the right side was stoned by the right tackle. But when Fales decided to escape the pocket and run left to extend the play, Van Noy read Fales’ decision immediately, and tracked him down all the way to the other side of the field, never letting up from full speed until he took Fales down from behind for a sack.
Van Noy would be best utilized as a rusher as a next-level pass defender, but he also presents the versatility to drop back into coverage. With good speed, fluid hips and good length for a linebacker, Van Noy should specifically be an asset in covering big receiving tight ends of the middle.
Van Noy is a smooth athlete in his dropbacks. He has shown that he can be very effective in short-to-intermediate coverage versus tight ends and even slot receivers. Specifically, Van Noy had solid performances in coverages last season versus San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar, a second-round pick in the 2013 draft, and San Jose State tight end Ryan Otten, another talented tight end who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent.
He has playmaking ability in pass coverage too. He uses his feet well to track down an errant pass and make a play on it, and has the running ability to make a play with the ball if he gets an interception, such as he did with the interception return touchdown below in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl:
Van Noy’s ball skills fall off, however, in deep coverage. While he has the change-of-direction ability and speed to keep up with tight ends and receivers downfield, he struggles to turn and find the football in the air. As a result, he often gives up receptions when covering deep, such as he did on this play versus Otten last season:
In addition to his ability to make plays in the backfield off the edge, Van Noy is also an effective blitzing inside linebacker, which increases his value/versatility to play 3-4 inside linebacker or 4-3 middle linebacker.
Using his snap anticipation, instincts and acceleration, Van Noy attacks the line of scrimmage and often beats unprepared blockers with his speed. If given a free lane to the backfield, he will likely make an offensive line pay. But even when he has to split a double-team block, he has shown the ability to do so with not only his quickness, but also by being physical with his hand play.
On the above play, Van Noy used a blitz to explode into the backfield and end up with a big sack on the quarterback. Van Noy can also quickly blow up a run play with his blitz, like on the 4-yard tackle for loss on San Diego State running back Adam Muema below: