A big senior year would do wonders for RB Jamaal Williams' draft stock
BYU produced its third player in four years to go in the top 70 of the NFL Draft this year with defensive end Bronson Kaufusi being selected by the Baltimore Ravens early in the third round.
The Cougars have not had multiple picks in the draft since 2009. Next year’s draft may pose the greatest opportunity for BYU to get more than one Cougar star selected, as a handful of quality players will be eligible for the 2017 edition.
Power Five Conference 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC I Notre Dame I BYU
Here is an early projection for BYU’s top 2017 NFL Draft prospects (listed alphabetically):
Algie Brown, FB (Sr., 6-1, 245)
Last season, Brown was BYU’s feature running back. In 2016, Brown will take on more of a fullback role in new offensive coordinator Ty Detmer’s pro-style attack. Brown even acknowledged that he knew that if he wanted to play in the NFL he would need to make the switch to fullback. Brown scored 11 touchdowns last season.
Taysom Hill, QB (Sr., 6-2, 230)
Hill is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college football when he’s healthy. The problem with Hill is that he hasn’t been healthy often. Hill has suffered season-ending injuries in three of the last four years. The other knock on Hill is that he is going to be turning 26 years old this August. Would an NFL team consider drafting a player that would be 27 before his first regular season game? If he wins the starting job this fall, he will be running a pro-style offense to prove he is more than just a running quarterback.
Harvey Langi, LB (Sr., 6-3, 249)
A transfer from Utah, Langi started his college career playing running back for the Utes, the same position where he became a four-star prospect at nearby Bingham High. Langi transferred to BYU after serving his LDS mission, and when he came to the Cougars he also switched to linebacker. Langi was a full-time starter last season, served as the anchor of BYU’s defense, and wound up being one of the Cougars’ better pass rushers. Langi is a good athlete, and he plays fast at his size.
Tanner Mangum, QB (So., 6-3, 215)
Despite being only a true sophomore, Mangum (above, right) is a draft-eligible prospect because he served an LDS mission for two years after high school. Mangum will be 23 years old this fall and by being an older prospect, the possibility of leaving school early isn’t far-fetched. But first, Mangum will need to beat out the aforementioned Taysom Hill for the starting quarterback job. If there were a quarterback to do it, Mangum would be that guy. In his first season playing college football, Mangum was one of the best freshmen in the country, throwing for 3,377 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Travis Tuiloma, DT (Sr., 6-2, 301)
As a 3-4 defensive tackle, you have to be really good at your job. Tuiloma does his job very well and he does it with very little fanfare. Tuiloma has been injury-prone the past few years, and when he is out, his absence has been noticeable. Tuiloma suffered injuries in the opener against Nebraska last year and the Las Vegas Bowl against Utah. Not surprisingly, in both games BYU’s defense struggled to get a push up front without him on the field. Tuiloma is expected to be ready for BYU when fall camp opens in August.
Jamaal Williams, RB (Sr., 6-2, 225)
Days before fall camp last year Williams withdrew from school for personal reasons. At that point, many wondered if Williams would ever wear a BYU jersey again. He’s now back, and from seeing him in spring practice, he’s looks better than ever. Williams has gained weight and is now playing at around 225 pounds. With his weight gain, which is all muscle, Williams has the look of an NFL running back. He is 929 yards away from becoming BYU’s all-time leading rusher, and possibly the best part of Williams’ draft stock is that he will only be 22 years old by the time the 2017 draft comes around. This is a big deal considering the NFL continues to devalue the running back position more and more as each year passes.
— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is publisher of Rivals' BYU site, CougarNation.com, and also is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.