After going many years without seeing a BYU Football player get drafted, we now have seen a Cougar get drafted in back to back years. Anyone watching BYU football over the last couple years knew Kyle Van Noy was going to be drafted, it was just a matter of what round he would go in. After having a first round pick and a second round pick, is there a possibility of having a Cougar go high in the draft for a third year?
The first player that has to be on everyone's minds is Taysom Hill. Last year Taysom completed 53.9% of his passes for 2,938 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He also had 1,344 rushing yards for 10 touchdowns. While the passing numbers weren't the greatest last season, many coaches and media critics are expecting him to improve dramatically in that category. Hill is going to attend the Manning Passing Academy, which takes an invite to attend. If Taysom decides he wants to leave for the NFL after next season, he will have to prove that he can make plays from the pocket as a passer. His accuracy and touch needs to improve drastically for this to become a reality. His mobility will be a plus as the mobile passer is starting to catch on in the NFL, but he needs to develop into a more reliable passer before this can happen.
The next best option to get drafted may just be safety Craig Bills. Bills seems to be the best option of replacing Danny Sorenson, now of the Kansas City Chiefs, in the defensive secondary. We have all witnessed the punishing style of play that Bills has, he is a ball hawker who finds himself in the thick of the action most plays. He is also reliable in pass coverage. His stats from his junior year include 78 tackles, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups. This year, Bills will probably be relied on more in run supportr and, if he shows he is capable, really could help propel him into the mid to late rounds of next year's draft.
Alani Fua is an intriguing draft prospect. Fua finally got the chance to play last season and really showed how talented he was. He didn't put up eye-popping numbers, 63 tackles, five tackles for loss, and three sacks, but he really showed his versatility in the passing game. He had two interceptions (one pick-six) and 10 pass breakups. His interception in the Houston game showed he can be a playmaker, which BYU needs since they lost their two biggest playmakers from last season in KVN and Sorenson. Alani will probably need to put on some weight, he is only listed at 215. If he could gain 10 to 15 pounds and keep his speed, he would be a very valuable pick up in the mid to late rounds.
There are other Cougars who really could get drafted in the late rounds or pick up free agent deals. If Coach Tujague can whip the offensive line back into the shape of BYU offensive lines of old, then De'Ondre Wesley will probably get a look along with Micheal Yeck. Their size should be of interest to the NFL scouts.
Last, but not least, is the option that Jamaal William, aka JSwagg, will have another great season, with a few more touchdowns, and turn pro. JSwagg rushed for 1,233 yards with 7 touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Despite 217 carries, Jamaal only fumbled once. His ball security is a plus. Even though running backs seem to have lost some value in the NFL, Jamaal is a three down back who can be used as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
Hopefully, this is the start of seeing Cougars in the NFL year after year again. Finding and developing NFL talent will be key to taking the football program back to the heights that BYU fans have experienced and expect.