After last season, BYU was lucky to have both LB Kyle Van Noy and WR Cody Hoffman decide to return to Provo for their senior seasons instead of declaring for the NFL Draft. I caught up with SB Nation's NFL draft expert, Dan Kadar, of Mocking the Draft and got some insight on how Van Noy and Hoffman's decisions has affected their draft stock and what they need to do to improve that stock.
Van Noy currently sits at #37 in Kadar's 2014 NFL Draft top 100 and #5 in his 2014 NFL Draft outside linebacker rankings. Hoffman started the year at #69 in the same top 100, but has since fallen out. Hoffman does rank #15 in Kadar's 2014 NFL Draft wide receiver rankings. Both Van Noy and Hoffman are included in his 2013 Senior Bowl North and South roster projections.
VTF: Kyle Van Noy started the season #46 overall on your big board and #6 in outside linebackers, he has since moved up to #37 overall and the #5 outside linebacker. What have you seen out of Van Noy out of his senior season that has lead to that rise?
MTD: There were a few things. Firstly, some players in front of him just haven't looked good at the start of the season. That's why he's ahead of someone like Adrian Hubbard of Alabama. The Texas game really helped Van Noy. There have been a few questions about his functional take-on strength, particularly in the run game. But there was a goal line play where Van Noy used his strength to stuff a run on third down that really got my attention.
VTF: What are Van Noy's weaknesses as far as the NFL is concerned?
MTD: The nice thing about Van Noy is that there aren't a lot of evident weaknesses. I think what holds him back some is that he's good in every area, but maybe not great. He's a fast edge rusher, but not like a Von Miller. He's a solid athlete, but he won't blow anyone away. The other concern is that he might be best-suited for teams that predominantly run a 3-4 defense in the NFL.
VTF: Is there anything Van Noy can do to increase his draft stock during the second half of the season?
MTD: Of course. There is going to be a lot of scouts at the Wisconsin and Notre Dame games in particular. Van Noy didn't have the best game against Notre Dame last season, so that will be big for him. The Wisconsin game will pose a nice challenge because they always have NFL-style offensive line play. If Van Noy looks good in both of those games, he should creep up higher. But ultimately, Van Noy's draft stock could be determined at the Senior Bowl.
VTF: Cody Hoffman has had a slow start to the season, which is evident in his abrupt fall out of your top 100. Would Hoffman have been better off to declare for the draft following his junior year?
MTD: Had Hoffman come out last year, it's likely he would have been a third-round pick. This year, there were five wide receivers taken in the third round. Hoffman is better than someone like Terrance Williams, for instance, whom the Cowboys took with the 74th pick. At this point, it does look like Hoffman may have gone higher in the 2013 draft, but I'll never fault someone for going back to school.
VTF: What does Hoffman need to do in the second half of the season to get his draft stock back to or even better than where it was at the beginning of the season?
MTD: More than anything, Hoffman needs to show effort and playmaking ability. The latter is a little hard in the way BYU's offense is being run this season with Taysom Hill. But there are some concerns because of the one-game suspension. There was another game, I can't remember which straight away, where he was on the sidelines at the end of the game. I don't think he was hurt, either. Another issue for Hoffman is the quarterback play. Hoffman is best on vertical routes, but I'm not sure Hill can always get him the ball in those situations. In the Texas game, for instance, I think Hoffman only had two targets. It's hard to look good when your role gets limited.
VTF: Where would you project both Van Noy and Hoffman would go in the draft at this point in the season?
MTD: Van Noy looks like a late-first or early second-round pick. Again, the Senior Bowl is going to be big for him. I think through May he's going to get compared to Kent State's Khalil Mack because they're fairly similar. Right now, Mack has the edge. Hoffman is more of a third- to fourth-round mix.
VTF: Are there any players outside of Van Noy and Hoffman on this BYU team that have NFL potential and may be a late round pickup in the 2014 draft?
MTD: Daniel Sorensen, the safety, could get a look late. He's someone I'm keeping my eye on.
Thanks again to Dan Kadar for his insights. Make sure to check out his work on Mocking the Draft and follow him on Twitter.