Former BYU Cougar, Kyle Van Noy now has two NFL preseason games under his belt. Unlike his former BYU teammates that have also joined the NFL ranks this season, Van Noy is not fighting to make an NFL roster. Instead, the battle Van Noy is fighting is for a starting position on the Detroit Lions.
Van Noy is currently sitting in the number two spot at the strongside linebacker position behind six-year veteran Ashlee Palmer. While Palmer is certainly a solid player, he lacks the pass rush skills and playmaking ability the Lions need to make their defense more imposing.
It's safe to assume that the Lions had those two things in mind when they moved up in the second round to draft Van Noy back in May. Van Noy was among college football's best in both of those categories recording 26 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, seven interceptions, and five defensive touchdowns during his four seasons at BYU.
Van Noy has been relatively quiet so far in training camp and the first two preseason games, which could be the reason he has spent very little time with the ones. Van Noy has flashed some of the greatness fans saw from him in college. In his first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, Van Noy used his strength stripped a ball away from the Browns' halfback, MarQueis Gray on a play action pass that was ruled incomplete, but was very close to a forced fumble. In his second preseason game this past Friday, Van Noy was credited with two tackles vs the Raiders.
Van Noy described it as a need to be more consistent on his most recent blog post on DetroitLions.com:
Personally, I don't think there is one thing in particular I'm doing well. There are glimpses of it, but I need to work on my consistency. There will be a play where I'm doing something really good and then there will be a play where it's like, ‘uh-oh, what is he doing?' So I just need to work on the consistency of doing it right every play.
The gap between Van Noy and Palmer is slim. Van Noy has been in good position to make plays, but hasn't been consistent in his ability to finish. It should come as no surprise that Van Noy looks most comfortable in open space and struggles a little taking on blockers in traffic. To earn the starting spot, Van Noy needs to take advantage of these opportunities and consistently showcase his skill-set as a playmaker in the remaining weeks leading up to the regular season. If Van Noy can do that, I fully expect him to overtake Palmer as the Week 1 starter.
What do you think of Van Noy's play so far? Do you think he'll be the starter for the Lions in Week 1 vs the New York Giants?