BYU has several players hoping to hear their names called when the NFL Draft begins on April 29. While it’s likely only quarterback Zach Wilson will be selected in the first round, others are certain to be selected later as the draft moves to the weekend.
One mountain of a man who looks the part of an NFL defensive lineman is Khyiris Tonga. He 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.
Several NFL teams could use his size and strength on their interior defensive line. Let’s look at five potential fits for Tonga later in the draft. He projects to be a traditional nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, thus most of these teams will run a scheme that fits his skill set.
The Bears run a 3-4 defense with a traditional nose tackle. Bilal Nichols is their current nose tackle and he is a solid one too, notching 5.0 sacks and 40 tackles in 16 games for Chicago in 2020. Beyond him, there is virtually no depth and he is only under contract for one more season. Tonga could be added to the fold in Chicago as a hedge for Nichols as well as a potential replacement if he impresses in camp and practice.
The Bears have five picks in the fifth round or later, plenty of chances to take a chance on Tonga. Given the lack of depth at nose tackle, this is a spot where Tonga could see some early playing time.
The Cowboys run a 4-3 defense so they would not have the more traditional nose tackle spot. However, there is absolutely a fit in Dallas. Trysten Hill started five games in 2020 for the Cowboys at the one-tech defensive lineman position at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, a similar build to Tonga.
Dallas has more depth than the Bears in the interior of the line but that shouldn’t scare Tonga. He could beat out the likes of Antwaun Woods and Walter Palmore for a chance to be in the rotation with Hill. Dallas owns four picks after the fourth round.
Raekwon Davis projects to be a fine nose tackle for Miami after he was selected in the second round of last year’s draft. Behind him, there is a big drop off in talent and Tonga could take advantage.
The Dolphins seem to be building something big behind Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. They are looking to become a deeper team worthy of challenging the defending division champion Bills. Adding Tonga would solidify depth along the defensive line. Miami owns three picks after the fourth round.
The Packers consistently run one of the better 3-4 defenses in the league. Nose tackle Kenny Clark has been a staple in that defense for five years and earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2019. He just signed an extension before the 2020 season but a smart team like the Packers know depth is key. Tonga wouldn’t challenge Clark for playing time right away but he could ease fears of lack of depth behind him.
There is currently no one listed behind Clark at the nose tackle position on the depth chart. Green Bay owns five picks after the fourth round.
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 another location where Tonga could immediately compete for meaningful snaps early in his rookie year. After the fourth round, the Raiders pick three times. Using a pick on the former BYU defensive captain would give Hurst immediate competition at nose tackle.