BYU hasn’t produced as many NFL players this decade as they have in years past, but 2017 was a resurgence of sorts for former Cougars in the NFL. Between Ziggy Ansah having another big year for the Lions and Jamaal Williams carrying the Packers’ offense late in the season, 2017 was one of the best years in a long time for former BYU players. Here’s a breakdown of how former Cougars performed this year.
Ziggy Ansah, Detroit Lions
Ziggy was BYU’s premier NFL player in 2017. Ansah was top 10 in the NFL with 12 sacks, and added 44 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. He was especially lethal late in the season, as had 3 sacks in each of the Lions’ final two games. Ziggy is not currently on the NFC’s pro bowl roster, but may be a late addition if injuries occur or a Super Bowl participant is unable to play.
Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers
After a slow start to the season, Jamaal really came on late in the year and was one of the top running backs in the NFL down the stretch. With injuries to Packers running backs Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones, as well as an injury to star QB Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal become the focal point of the Packers’ offense.
For the season, Jamaal had 556 rushing yards for 4 TD’s and 0 fumbles, and added 25 receptions for 262 yards and 2 TD’s. Jamaal was number six in rushing yards for rookies, and was the only one of those six without a fumble. Jamaal had two games with multiple TD’s, and had over 20 carries in 4 of the Packers final 8 games.
Excited to see what the future holds for Jamaal!
Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints
After being inactive for most of the season, the Saints lined up Taysom at special teams late in the year, and sent twitter into a frenzy as a result.
Taysom was active for the Saints’ final 5 games, and came up with 4 tackles on special teams. He also lined up at receiver a handful of times.
Here’s a tackle he had versus the Carolina Panthers that put a huge smile on the face of Head Coach Sean Payton:
The Saints are in the playoffs and will play Sunday afternoon versus the Panthers.
Kyle Van Noy, New England Patriots
Van Noy had his best season as a pro, as he entrenched himself as a starter on the Patriots defense. In 13 games, Van Noy finished with 73 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Look for Van Noy on the Patriots defense as they begin their playoff run.
Daniel Sorensen, Kansas City Chiefs
After safety Eric Berry went down with a season-ending injury, Sorensen became a starter at safety for the AFC West division champs. Sorensen led the Chiefs with 89 tackles, and added 1.5 sacks and 1 interception. The Chiefs will face off versus the Titans this Saturday in the playoffs.
Michael Davis, LA Chargers
Davis made the roster for the Chargers as an undrafted free agent, and played in 15 games for the Chargers on Special Teams and cornerback. Davis ended the season with 18 total tackles.
Kai Nacua, Cleveland Browns
Nacua played in all 16 games for the Browns, starting in 3 of them. He finished the year with 14 tackles.
Harvey Langi, New England Patriots
Harvey’s season was cut short by a car accident involving him and his wife. They both have since recovered well and have seemingly avoided serious long-term injuries. Langi played in one game with the Patriots and recorded a tackle.
Jordan Leslie, Cleveland Browns
Leslie played in 2 games for the Browns in this year, and had one of the best catches of the year. The 26-yard reception was Leslie’s lone catch of the year and the first of his NFL career. He has since been picked up by the Denver Broncos’ practice squad.
Bronson Kaufusi, Baltimore Ravens
After being sidelined all of last season due to an ankle injury, Kaufusi appeared in three games for the Ravens in 2017, finishing the season with 5 tackles.
John Denney, Miami Dolphins
Playing in his 13th NFL season, Denney once again did his thing as the Dolphins’ long snapper. Not a bad career to be in.