Last year at this time, I predicted that it was unlikely BYU would end their drought of having multiple players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Fast-forward to this past weekend, and sure enough I was correct.
Fred Warner was listed last year as “far and away BYU’s best prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft,” and he was the only player from BYU selected in 2018, going to the San Francisco 49ers at pick No. 70.
So if you’re looking for the best forecasts of who the top prospects are for BYU football in the 2019 NFL Draft class, you’ve come to the right place.
Here is an early projection for BYU’s top draft-eligible prospects (listed alphabetically) for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Zayne Anderson, OLB/DB (Sr. 6-2, 205)
Look for Anderson to end up around 215 pounds during games this fall. Anderson switched from safety to BYU’s “flash” linebacker role, the spot that Fred Warner has left behind. Early returns are that Anderson has thrived and showcased his athleticism in BYU’s 4-3 scheme. He is an excellent athlete who could impress in an NFL Scouting Combine setting.
Matt Bushman, TE (So. 6-5, 240)
BYU has always had a proud tradition of success at the tight end position. But for many years due to offensive scheme, the tight end was never featured or the Cougars just did not have enough talent. Now, that’s no longer the case. Bushman, who will be draft eligible despite only being a sophomore (LDS mission), is going to be one of the nation’s best tight ends in 2018. Bushman was a freshman All-American last year on an offense that was one of the worst in the country. Bushman can do it all at the tight end position. If he was to come out, he could end up as BYU’s highest-rated prospect.
Austin Hoyt, OT (Sr. 6-8, 305)
Hoyt is considered by many around the BYU program to have the best NFL potential along the offensive line this fall. Hoyt has added 10 pounds since the end of last season and is expected to be a starter at right tackle. The problem for Hoyt so far is that there haven’t been many moments in his BYU career where he has dominated his competition. He has the size and measurables that NFL franchises covet, now he will need to dominate on film as a senior to have a chance at getting drafted.
Corbin Kaufusi, DE (Sr. 6-9, 280)
The Kaufusi name is synonymous with football around BYU and the NFL. Corbin’s dad played for the Philadelphia Eagles and his brother, Bronson, was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Corbin dabbled with college basketball early on in his collegiate career before making the switch to the sport that the Kaufusis have made a name for themselves in. And at 6-foot-9, I’m sure NFL teams could find ways to make something work with that size.
Sione Takitaki, DE/LB (Sr. 6-2, 231)
Takitaki has been one of BYU’s best pass rushers during his time with the Cougars. Some off-the-field issues early in his career could be a possible red flag for NFL franchises. He played at defensive end in 2017 and is now switching to boundary linebacker for this season.
Khyiris Tonga, DT (So. 6-4, 332)
If Tonga stays healthy in 2018, don’t be surprised if this is a guy that could rise up draft boards as the season progresses. Has the talent to be one of the best defensive linemen BYU has produced in the last 30 years since the likes of Outland Trophy and Super Bowl winner Jason Buck. Tonga is a three-technique tackle who has excellent get off and athleticism at his size. Tonga was nearly unblockable in his true freshman season coming off of serving an LDS mission in Kansas. He needs to work on his motor and avoid taking plays off, but he has next-level talent.
— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is BYU Insider for ESPN 960 Sports and Publisher of Cougar Nation, part of the Rivals network. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.
(Top photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey, courtesy of byucougars.com)