BBD Editor: Dan Hope
The final game of the bowl season’s first week will feature numerous NFL prospects on both sides of the ball for both teams as the BYU Cougars (8-4) and Washington Huskies (8-4) play in Friday night’s Fight Hunger Bowl (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
While both of these teams will be looking to finish their season with a ninth victory, the game’s senior NFL prospects, including BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Washington quarterback Keith Price, will be looking to make a big impression in their final college football games before moving on to the next level. The same might be the case for a few select underclassmen, including Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and running back Bishop Sankey, who could declare for the 2014 NFL draft to take advantage of early-round potential.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU, Sr. (6’3”, 245 lbs)
He hasn’t received as much attention as fellow senior outside linebackers Anthony Barr (UCLA) and Khalil Mack (Buffalo) this season, but any discussion of the top defensive players in the 2014 draft class should not be complete without Van Noy.
Van Noy is a versatile, well-rounded defender who can make plays doing everything from rushing the passer to defending the run in space and dropping back into coverage. He has had outstanding production in his BYU career, totaling 60 tackles for loss (25 sacks), 24 passes defensed (seven interceptions), 11 forced fumbles and more than 200 total tackles.
A terrific all-around athlete, Van Noy has an explosive burst off the snap which enables him to get to the backfield very quickly as a pass-rusher and blitzer. He also has very good speed, quick feet and fluid hips, which gives him sideline-to-sideline range as a run defender and allows him to drop back into pass coverage and cover a tight end or be a rover.
Van Noy is a sound tackler who regularly makes plays both in the backfield and in space, and has a knack for making plays on the ball. He is also an effective edge-setter against the run.
Outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense might be the most natural position for Van Noy, but his size, length, athleticism and versatile skill set really give him the ability to line up at any linebacker position in any defensive scheme while he could also be utilized as a situational pass-rushing defensive end in a 4-3 defense.
Van Noy’s game strikes a great balance in that he regularly makes big plays everywhere from the line of scrimmage to downfield in coverage, yet he stays disciplined and makes his impact within his assignments. He should be an immediate impact player on an NFL defense—as I wrote about in May, he could be a perfect fit for the Buffalo Bills’ defensive scheme—and should be well worth a first-round draft pick.
Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU, Sr. (6’4”, 210 lbs)
BYU’s leading receiver for a fourth consecutive season, Cody Hoffman has a proven history of consistent production and making plays as both an outside and slot receiver. He is a precise route-runner and reliable pass-catcher who should be able to contribute immediately to an NFL offense.
Hoffman gets open with his route-running ability, but also does a great job making contested catches through coverage. He uses his size well as he attacks the football in the air, does not back down from contact and is very good at high-pointing the football. He has shown he can make catches through contact from defenders and does not often allow defenders to bump him off his route with contact.
Hoffman has very good body control and can make the tough grabs away from his body and tight to the sideline.
He does a good job of releasing from press coverage with his acceleration and physicality. Limited overall athleticism, however, has Hoffman projected to be selected in the middle rounds rather than the early rounds.
Hoffman has subpar speed and struggles to separate downfield even at the collegiate level, which could be a significant problem against faster, stronger NFL defensive backs. While he does a good job going after the football in the air, quarterbacks will be limited in how far they can be leading because he lacks the closing burst to catch up to overthrows. Hoffman is unlikely to be a big source of yards after the catch either, as he has not demonstrated much open-field quickness.
That lack of big-play athleticism limits Hoffman’s overall upside, but he could still prove to be a very valuable mid-round selection as an intermediate receiver and red-zone threat.
Eathyn Manumaleuna, DT, BYU, Sr. (6’2”, 305 lbs)
Eathyn Manumaleuna has had drawn more draft consideration in a productive senior season. He has good quickness and nimble feet for a defensive tackle, which allows him to pursue plays with good range for his position and make plays as a penetrator at the line of scrimmage. When he plays with good level, he can get leverage his opponent well and drive blockers back.
That said, his strengths might not be enough to overcome his shortcomings. He has subpar height and length, plays with inconsistent pad level and does not generate much power. Though he can make plays in the backfield with his quickness and getting low, he has very limited moves to break down blockers.
Those flaws might be too many for a prospect who is already 25 years old to be worth a draft pick.
Kaneakua Friel, TE, BYU, Sr. (6’5”, 261 lbs)
With ideal size for an NFL tight end and solid athleticism considering his size, Kaneakua Friel should draw looks as a potential late-round selection.
He has shown potential to make plays as a receiver and move defenders off the line as a blocker, but he has done neither with consistency. Though he has developmental potential as an in-line tight end, his upside as a project is decreased because he is already 25 years old.
Friel should at least get a shot at his undrafted free agent, but if a team believes he can make an immediate impact as a blocker, short-yardage/red zone receiver and special teams player, his stock might rise up the board on Day 3 of the draft if a team believes it can develop him quickly.
Daniel Sorensen, SS, BYU, Sr. (6’2”, 208 lbs)
Daniel Sorensen is a rangy ballhawk at safety who leads BYU with 14 total passes defensed this season and has eight career interceptions. He does not have great speed for a safety and is an inconsistent tackler, but he tracks the ball well and is good at making plays on it in the air.
The 24-year-old is no sure bet to be drafted, but he has been impressive enough this season for the Cougars to earn an invite to the East-West Shrine Game along with his teammate Friel (Van Noy and Hoffman are both going to the Senior Bowl).
If he can finish his collegiate career with impressive showings in the Fight Hunger Bowl and Shrine Game, Sorensen might just work his way into the back end of the NFL draft as a potential rotational safety and special teams contributor.
See page 2 for a look at Washington’s top prospects.
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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bishop Sankey, Bowl Games, BYU, Cody Hoffman, Daniel Sorensen, Eathyn Manumaleuna, Fight Hunger Bowl, Game Previews, Kaneakua Friel, Keith Price, Kyle Van Noy, Marcus Peters, Prospect Previews, Sean Parker, Washington