Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU (HT: 6'3⅛"; WT: 243 lbs)
Second Round: 40th Pick
NFL Comparison: Akeem Ayers, OLB, Tennessee Titans
+ Smart and instinctive defender
+ Quick reactions as a rusher with a repertoire of rush moves
+ Light, balanced and controlled feet
+ Disciplined, fluid and aware in pass coverage
+ Has a knack for forcing turnovers
+ Versatile to play multiple positions
- Average athlete overall
- Not exceptionally strong or fast
- Needs to be more physical
- More of an opportunistic player than a dominant one
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Kyle Van Noy was a tremendous collegiate linebacker and could be that in the NFL, but he will always have to compensate for a lack of great physical tools. In comparison with other linebacker prospects, his explosiveness, quickness, top-end speed and functional strength are all average.
Van Noy just doesn't cover a lot of ground in a hurry. When playing off the line of scrimmage in a traditional linebacker role, that's a problem. Van Noy's plan as a defender is well-adapted to his limitations, though. A saving grace for him is a terrific ability to play under control by sinking his hips, changing directions cleanly. He has skillful feet.
Despite being a taller linebacker, Van Noy plays with great pad level. His functional strength is better than his overall power, but he isn't about to throw anyone around. An area of Van Noy's game that requires more power is as a tackler. Too often he will leave his feet and not get back to the ground because the power isn't there.
The lack of physicality Van Noy plays with for stretches is a concern as well. He needs to be a more aggressive and physical linebacker in the NFL.
Shortly before Van Noy signed with BYU in 2009, he was cited for DUI. He sat out his freshman season as a result. Less than a month later he had to be brought down by a taser gun for eluding police. Charges were dropped, but his immaturity showed. His record off the field has been clean since, but teams will look into it.
Getting back to on-field play, there are few prospects who have a higher football IQ than Kyle Van Noy. This is a big reason why he's always around the football, an underrated aspect of linebacker play. Van Noy is always anticipating plays, reading keys and reacting in a way that lets him play faster than his timed speed says he should. On top of that, there aren't many linebacker prospects who have a better grasp of gap discipline and defensive assignments.
Rushing the passer is where Van Noy affected games the most in college. NFL teams will be keen to utilize his skills to bring pressure. Van Noy can be disruptive through a diverse arsenal of rush moves and from various alignments.
A big reason for his successes as a rusher is the ability to set up moves and react to what pass-blockers are doing. It's another testament to how sharp his football mind is. Van Noy has been especially effective setting up tackles to the outside and then winning back to the inside. As soon as a tackle begins to over-set to the outside, Van Noy will quickly take advantage.
Effectiveness on blitzes, not just rushing from the edge, is of interest as well. While Van Noy spent most of his time as an edge-rusher, he has shown promising flashes blitzing from between the tackles. He is quick laterally to shoot through tight gaps and then fights off blockers well with his hands. Van Noy also possesses flexibility to bend around pass-blockers and quickly get back on his rush track.
Coverage was not among Van Noy's primary responsibilities at BYU, but he has shown coverage skills through forays dropping from the line and at the Senior Bowl. Van Noy stays balanced getting depth in zones, can change directions with sharp footwork and always has his head on a swivel to anticipate the movement of route-runners. As long as he is not asked to blanket receivers in man coverage, Van Noy will be efficient in coverage.
His knack for making big plays showed up often in pass coverage. Van Noy intercepted seven passes over the course of his last three seasons at BYU despite rushing more than dropping. He pairs instincts with soft hands to reel in passes to change the course of games. He did that on the first play of the game against Utah State.
Kyle Van Noy isn't the most stout defender against the run, but does enough to hold his own at the point of attack and make plays in the backfield where advantageous. His reliability goes back to his awareness level and willingness to stick to his assignment. He's always finding the football and playing off blocks quick enough to get to it.
Texas is in a wildcat formation. They will fake the jet sweep and run a power right at Van Noy. The right tackle and right guard want to get Van Noy pinned to the inside so the fullback and pulling guard can lead up the hole.
Initially Van Noy steps to his inside and the tackle has outside position on him. Notice the hand of the tackle on his back, ready to pin him and spring a big run. That's where Van Noy's quick reactions and gap discipline come in handy. He spins away from the block and right into the hole.
Van Noy also has just enough quickness and gap-splitting ability to make plays in the backfield. Once he has a step on a blocker, he accelerates into space and is unaffected by block attempts. That only adds to what he can do at the point of attack in run defense.
The skills Van Noy has apply to numerous linebacker positions across multiple defenses. That's why most teams in the league should have some level of interest in his services. His best fit is as a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. That would often see him lined up on the line of scrimmage or have him blitzing off the edge. He would often be a crucial cog at the point of attack in run defense, where his gap discipline and hand usage would come into play.
Defenses that employ a 3-4 will also have interest, with Van Noy able to play on either side. No team should expect him to be a sack artist in the way Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware, and other 3-4 rush linebackers are. That's why his value may be higher in an even-front defense.
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