After a season of ups and downs, the BYU football team will be sending five players to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis fromFebruary 22-25. Everyone knows about Kyle Van Noy, but the four other players include Cody Hoffman, Eathyn Manumaleuna, Daniel Sorensen and Uani ‘ Unga. Hopefully one of these former Cougars can have a performance like Ziggy’s last year, which hurled him to the top of the draft and a top-five selection. Let’s take a look at each player’s strengths and also where they need to make improvements at the Combine to help shoot their stock up the draft:
Kyle Van Noy: Linebacker, 6’3’’, 245 lbs
Van Noy has been a beast for the Cougars and the anchor of some of the best defenses in program history. He has incredible versatility that led him to be the only NCAA player to record a stat in every defensive category his sophomore and junior seasons. He has a great knack for causing turnovers and turning them into points.
What he needs to prove:
Van Noy needs to show that he’s no one-trick pony. He’s been able to get by in college as a pass rusher using a simple swim move or just running by linemen. NFL linemen won’t let that happen. Van Noy will need to be on his game in his drill work and during his one-on-one times. If he’s able to show agility and quickness in the three-cone drill and the shuttle drill, and carry that over to working against offensive linemen, NFL scouts will be drooling all over him.
Projected pick: Late first round to early second
Cody Hoffman: Wide receiver, 6’4’’, 210 lbs
Cody Hoffman is the all-time everything receiver at BYU. He holds just about every major school receiving record, doing so with some iffy QB play along the way. Hoffman would go up against anyone in a jump ball situation and almost every time he’d come down with it. NFL teams will consider that a huge plus, especially in the red zone where the field shrinks.
What he needs to prove:
Plain and simply, the Hoff needs to run fast. He doesn’t need to run a 4.4 in the 40, but if he could shave it down to a 4.5, with his size, he could turn into a very dangerous NFL receiver. But it’s not just speed either. He’ll need to do well in agility drills, which are crucial for a wide receiver. If he can show that he can be quick coming in and out of breaks and get open for a QB, it will go a long way in helping him get drafted.
Projected pick: Fourth to fifth round
Eathyn Manumaleuna: Defensive line, 6’2’’, 305 lbs
Manumaleuna seems like he’s been on the BYU football team forever (2007). In his extended stay in Provo, the defensive linemen has learned how to be a force in the middle using a combination of size and technique to shed blockers and stuff the run.
According to optimumscouting.com, Eathyn is the 34th ranked DT eligible for the draft. He lacks that athleticism needed for a DT in the NFL, and he’s not a mountain of a man to make up for the lack of athleticism. If Eathyn can show out well during the bench press and position agility drills, it should certainly help put to rest some doubts about his strength and athleticism.
Projected pick: Undrafted free agent
Daniel Sorensen: Defensive back, 6’2’’, 208 lbs
Sorensen has been a stud at strong safety for the Cougars. His physicality at the line of scrimmage will serve him well at the next level, as well as his ability to tackle ball carriers in the open field. He also does a pretty good job of playing the ball in the air for a strong safety. The biggest feather in his cap, however, is his special teams ability. BYU punter, Scott Arellano, should have taken Sorensen out to dinner for how many punts he was able to down inside the ten. If nothing else, Sorensen could be a huge contributor on all special teams for any NFL squad.
Hopefully Sorensen has been working hard these last few months in prep for the combine and has been able to put on 15-20 lbs. of muscle. He’ll most likely play strong safety in the NFL, and if he’s going to come down in the box on most plays, you’d like to see him get to 220-230 lbs. Sorensen lacks elite athleticism to play a center field type free safety, but if he can run in the 4.5 to low 4.6 range it will be a huge boost to his stock, not only as a safety prospect but as a special teams cover guy. He’ll also need to show quick feet in the agility drills and the ability to come in and out of breaks quickly.
Projected pick: Seventh round
Uani ‘ Unga: Line backer, 6’1’’, 233 lbs
Uani was a tackling machine in the middle for the Cougar D, ranking sixth in the country with 11 tackles per game. He’s the type of linebacker that is able to make plays from sideline to sideline, and you could leave him in on passing situations as well. Unga has great leadership skills and was selected as a captain by his teammates in his first full-season as the starter.
Uani tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus at the end of the season last year, almost guaranteeing that he won’t get drafted. He won’t be able to show off his athleticism at the combine or pro day. He needs to do a great job on the bench press because that’s about the only physical activity he’ll be able to show the scouts. He will get a shot to impress teams during the interview potion. And if he can convince some teams that he is a hard working leader, and that he will come all the way back from this devastating injury, someone will give him a shot.