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Predictions for BYU’s NFL Draft Hopefuls

The NFL Draft is a week away and several former Cougars are hoping to hear their names called. Who will get the call and when?

NCAA Football: Texas State at BYU USA TODAY NETWORK

The NFL Draft begins next Thursday, April 29. BYU looks to have a big weekend in regards to the amount of players selected. It is possible that, for the first time since 1987, BYU could have four players selected in the same draft.

Let’s take one last shot at where these players might end up next weekend.

Zach Wilson, QB

1st Round, Pick No. 2, New York Jets

This is almost as much of a sure-thing as Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars at No. 1 overall. A few pundits have been saying “the draft starts at pick number three,” with how surely everyone feels about Wilson heading to New York. Frankly, the only way this does not happen is if there is an earth-shattering trade ahead of the Jets being on the clock. If Wilson heads to the Jets, will be a daunting task in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Wilson will be asked to be the savior of a floundering franchise in the country’s brightest lights an athlete can endure.

Wilson seems up to the task. Plus, he will be helped by a new regime in town led by Robert Saleh, former defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. He brings with him Mike LaFleur to run the offense, who helped run the 49ers’ complex and effective offensive attack.

The Jets have not been to the playoffs since 2010 nor to the Super Bowl since 1968. All eyes in New York will be on BYU’s former signal caller to bring them back to glory. The pressure couldn’t be higher.

Brady Christensen, OT

3rd Round, Pick No. 85- Tennessee Titans

Solid left tackles will always be in high demand, as teams put a higher and higher premium on finding, and keeping healthy, a franchise quarterback. Christensen helped keep Wilson upright and earned rave reviews from Pro Football Focus, who graded him as one of the top offensive line prospects in the entire draft.

The Titans will have either Ty Sambrailo or Kendall Lamm at right tackle, neither one seems to instill a ton of confidence in Tennessee as of yet. While Christensen played left tackle at BYU, he displays enough athleticism as well as football IQ to flip over to the right side. Plus, they could groom him for left tackle Taylor Lewan’s eventual departure.

Khyiris Tonga, DL

6th Round, Pick No. 200- Las Vegas Raiders

Tonga turned heads during BYU’s Pro Day with a whopping 35 reps on the bench press, which would have been the most by any defensive lineman in the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. He measures at 6-foot-4, 322 pounds, a perfect size for a hulking nose tackle.

Las Vegas’ projected starting nose tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. started just three games in 2020, playing in 11 total. He is also only under contract for this upcoming season before becoming a free agent. Quinton Jefferson was signed as a versatile backup but he lacks the true size to be a prototypical nose tackle, unlike Tonga.

This would be a location where Tonga could immediately compete for meaningful snaps early in his rookie year.

Dax Milne, WR

6th Round, Pick No. 206- Indianapolis Colts

How fitting would it be to have Milne play for the same team that the last BYU receiver who got drafted, Austin Collie, played for? The Colts need weapons around their new quarterback in Carson Wentz. They have T.Y. Hilton, who is past his prime, as well as Michael Pittman Jr. coming off of a solid rookie campaign. After that, their depth is thin.

Milne offers a reliable target with decent size at 6-foot-1. He could become a safety valve for Wentz when things break down. Even if the Colts draft a receiver earlier, they need a quantity as well as quality in receivers in Indianapolis.

Matt Bushman, TE

7th Round, Pick No. 233- Houston Texans

Bushman is a wild card in the draft given his brutal Achilles injury ahead of the 2020 season. If he returns to the form he had in 2018 and 2019, he could be an absolute steal. He will likely drop in the draft below what his talent indicates based on the uncertainty surrounding his health.

Houston’s top returning tight end is Jordan Akins, who amassed a modest 403 receiving yards in 2020. They lost Darren Fells to free agency. They need to replenish the pass-catching group for quarterback Deshaun Watson. After trading away one of the best receivers in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins before the 2020 season, they also lost Will Fuller to the Dolphins this offseason, who was their second-best receiver last year. Watson needs weapons and Bushman could become a lethal one despite is low draft projections.

Several other Cougars may go undrafted but are talented enough to merit interest from NFL teams. Tristen Hoge, Zayne Anderson, Chris Wilcox, Troy Warner, Chandon Herring, Isaiah Kaufusi, among others hope to be on an NFL roster this fall. Most, if not all of them, will get a shot as undrafted rookies.