With the 2014 NFL draft quickly approaching, teams are taking their final looks at prospects before the big show.
On Thursday, that included former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy visiting the Detroit Lions. Van Noy is being projected as a second- or third-round draft pick, with the possibility of sneaking into the tail end of the first round.
Of course, if Van Noy were to be picked by Detroit, he would reunite with former BYU teammate Ezekiel Ansah, who had 32 tackles and eight sacks while forcing two fumbles in his rookie season last year. Ansah missed a team minicamp this week as he's recovering from shoulder surgery.
Van Noy joked he would be learning from Ansah at the pro level if he were picked by the Lions, an irony after Van Noy helped Ansah learn the nuances of the game in Provo.
"He came home for a bye week (last year) and was telling me about pro football," Van Noy told Lions Insider Tim Twentyman on Thursday. "He said it should be the other way around and I should be telling him how it's going. It's funny how things work out."
Van Noy is the third linebacker to visit Detroit in the past week, according to SideLion Report, joining Buffalo's Khalil Mack and Cal's Khairi Fortt. SideLion's Darin Ackerman said the Lions have brought in 26 players for pre-draft visits, including eight over the past week.
If the Lions were to pick Van Noy in the draft, without trading to a different spot to acquire him, it would likely happen at their 45th pick overall in the second round or at 76th overall in the third round. Detroit's first-round pick, at No. 10, is higher than where any mock drafts have the former Cougar being drafted.
According to MLive.com's Justin Rogers, if Van Noy were to be picked by Detroit, he could be given the opportunity to overtake Ashlee Palmer for a starting position. Palmer is a five-year NFL veteran — the last four with the Lions — who started 10 games for Detroit last season and had 33 tackles and a fumble recovery.
USA Today released its list of the top 10 outside linebackers of this year's draft on Thursday, and Van Noy ranks fourth. Utah's Trevor Reilly comes in at No. 9. Of Van Noy, USA Today's Brent Sobleski said, "Van Noy is a polished prospect that's shown the ability to rush the passer, play the run and drop in space."
One of Van Noy's skills that has received a lot of attention during the draft process is his ability to create turnovers and score touchdowns as a defender — he had five during his time at BYU.
“I think some people have a knack for just being around the football,” Van Noy told Twentyman. “I put myself (in that category). The preparation that goes into putting yourself in those situations helps out. Coaches calling that call at the right time. It’s a little bit of everything that goes into it, but at the end of the day it’s all about the ball and that’s what I’m about. The game is about the ball.”
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