If Kyle Van Noy decided out of high school that he’d rather catch passes than bat them down, there’s a chance he might have teamed up with Chip Kelly.
The BYU outside linebacker prospect was recruited by Oregon (then coached by Mike Bellotti) to play wide receiver, but ultimately opted for the defensive side of the ball.
“Teams were going both sides a lot,” Van Noy said. “I had some offers that had me playing receiver and then I had some playing at outside linebacker. So I was recruited at a couple different positions, which was nice. It gave me a choice.”
Looking back, it’s tough to argue that Van Noy (6-3 1/4, 244 pounds) made the wrong decision. He had a fantastic career with the Cougars and was one of the most versatile defensive players on the field down at the Senior Bowl.
As a junior, he showed tremendous pass-rushing prowess, piling up 13 sacks to go along with 22 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles. But last season, Van Noy was asked to drop back into coverage more and excelled in that area as well.
“I’m down here to show that I’m physical playing against the run, that I can pass-rush and I can cover… I can do all three phases for a linebacker,” Van Noy said. “I don’t want to be known for just one certain thing. I want to be able to have a team want me because of my versatility.”
Much of the focus on the Eagles has been on the starting right outside linebacker position, but the truth is they need depth at that spot as well. For example, what would have happened last year if Connor Barwin went down? The defense didn’t really have anyone else to play that “Jack” position on the left side.
Early projections have Van Noy going in the first two rounds, although there’s still plenty of time for movement between now and May.
But given his versatility, length and production, Van Noy is a player to keep an eye on for the Eagles.
MORE BIG PEOPLE
During Senior Bowl practices, there were a handful of prospects who towered over the competition.
One of them was Virginia defensive lineman Brent Urban. Urban (6-6 1/2, 298 pounds, 33 5/8-inch arms) played a variety of roles in college.
“When I first went to Virginia, I was playing 3-4,” he said. “I’ve played almost every position on the D-Line so I think I’m pretty versatile as far as transitioning to either front. So I think that’s a good thing I bring to the table.”
The native Canadian specifically looked at 3-4 teams coming out of high school, but Virginia moved to a 4-3 after Urban’s freshman year.
He went from a (two-gap) 3-4 defensive end to a 4-3 defensive end. Urban also played the 3-technique and nose tackle spots.
Urban had 11.5 tackles for loss last season. He only had one sack, but used his length to bat down nine passes. He tweaked his ankle during the week and did not participate in the Senior Bowl game. Urban is considered a mid-round pick.
DEE FORD IMPRESSES
Taking all measurements off the table and just focusing on on-the-field production, Auburn’s Dee Ford was easily one of the stars in Mobile.
The DE/OLB was named MVP of Saturday’s game with a pair of sacks and a pass deflection in the first half.
“I made a little money,” he said, via NFL.com.
“I was able to apply some pressure early in the game, and it got me some (more) attention, and it freed some things up for some other guys. That’s just a product of our practice. We’ve been doing this all week.”
At 6-2 1/8, 243 pounds, Ford doesn’t jump off the charts from a measurables perspective. But he has good length (32 3/4-inch arms), and there’s no denying his production. Ford had 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss as a senior playing in the SEC.
If Ford continues to turn heads during the pre-draft process, he could be a first-round pick.