PROVO — Typically, the National Football League draft is over by now.
But this year, instead of being held in late April, the draft was pushed back to May. It kicks off Thursday (6 p.m. MDT, ESPN/NFL Network).
While former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is eager to find out where he will play at the next level, he’s feeling at peace.
“I’ve waited 23 years for this moment,” he said. “So, I can wait a little bit longer.”
Plenty of NFL teams have shown interest in Van Noy, including the Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.
A few draft experts project Van Noy going in the late first round, while many see him pegged for the second round. Some see him as a third-round selection.
“I’m not sure he’s got one outstanding trait where you go, ‘Wow, that’s awesome,’” said Mike Mayock of the NFL Network. “He does everything well. He can run. He can drop. He can play inside. He can play outside. People are trying to figure out where best to play him and his versatility is a huge plus.”
Last month, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. wrote that Van Noy is “a player I simply didn't have graded high enough. He's so quick, with such good instincts, and sees and reacts so well, he often looks like he's playing the game faster than everyone else. I had him as a likely second-round pick (I still see that as a possibility, as I may have him higher than most), but he's good enough to go in Round 1 based on my evaluation.”
During a teleconference last week, Kiper said, “I like Kyle Van Noy. I think he is a guy who can hold up in coverage very well, and give you a pass rush. Now he missed some opportunities to get some sacks (last season), missing some tackles on quarterbacks that he should have had for sacks. But I think Kyle Van Noy is a very underrated player.”
Where would Van Noy like to play?
“I’m not really particular about where I go in the draft,” Van Noy said. “I’m just looking forward to this process being over and being drafted. I’m looking forward to being on a team and being able to be back to playing football.”
There’s been some speculation that Van Noy might end up with the Lions, and be reunited with former BYU teammate Ezekiel Ansah.
“That would be awesome. Playing with Ziggy would be fun,” he said. “Not many players in the NFL get to play with former (collegiate) teammates. It would be great.”
As for draft day, Van Noy said he plans to spend it in Utah. He didn’t want to travel to New York and attend draft night proceedings at Radio City Music Hall.
“I didn’t want to go,” he said. “I wanted to enjoy it with my family.”
Besides Van Noy, other former Cougars could hear their names called this weekend — linebacker Uani Unga, defensive back Daniel Sorensen, defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna and wide receiver Cody Hoffman.
Unga, Sorensen, Manumaleuna and Hoffman are projected as late-round picks or undrafted free agents.
Van Noy said he feels a sense of school pride when BYU players are drafted.
A year ago, Ansah tied BYU quarterback Jim McMahon as the highest-drafted Cougar ever, at No. 5 overall. McMahon was taken with the No. 5 pick by the Chicago Bears in 1982.
When Ansah was drafted, he became the school’s first first-round selection since 2000, when linebacker Rob Morris went No. 28 overall to the Indianapolis Colts. Before last year, the Cougars hadn’t had a single player drafted since 2010, when Dennis Pitta was picked in the fourth round by the Baltimore Ravens.
Van Noy sees many more Cougars going in the NFL draft in future years.
“Obviously, BYU is getting better players,” he said. “Being able to be seen on ESPN more helps and playing better competition helps. I think more and more guys will get drafted from BYU.”