When it was suggested to BYU’s Kyle Van Noy before the NFL Draft that the Detroit Lions could take him and reunite him with 2013 first-round draft pick Ziggy Ansah, he said that would be too unbelievable to even imagine.
“Dude, I am not even kidding,” Van Noy said. “That would be awesome.”
Well, awesomeness happened for the Cougars’ All-America linebacker on Friday night, as Detroit selected Van Noy in the second round, trading up to get one of the best defenders in school history with the 40th overall pick.
The Lions, who picked Ansah fifth overall last year, need defensive help beyond their stellar defensive line and will count on Van Noy to play immediately, new coach Jim Caldwell told reporters Friday night.
“We know he’s going to contribute right away,” Caldwell said.
Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said Van Noy will be a three-down player for the Lions.
“We’ll figure out ways to use him and get him going. … He turns the ball over [with] sacks, strips, interceptions,” Austin told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Van Noy and Ansah are close friends, and Van Noy jokes that he taught Ansah how to play football after Ansah arrived at BYU from the African country of Ghana and tried out for the basketball team before gradually moving over to the gridiron. The two communicate almost daily via text messages and phone calls.
“The Lions are starting a BYU pipeline,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “Detroit will not be disappointed.”
Generally, ESPN’s analysts praised the pick and talked about Van Noy’s dominating performance in the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State where he scored two defensive touchdowns. They did mention that he was not as effective in his senior year, with Mel Kiper Jr. saying he could have had far more than three sacks if he hadn’t missed countless opportunities in the backfield.
“Four-sport athlete in high school. Tough kid, NFL ready,” said ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. when the selection was announced. “Tremendously smart. .. I think it is a heckuva pick for the Detroit Lions.”
The last BYU player drafted in second round was quarterback John Beck in 2007.
The 40th selection in the draft continues what has been a storybook year for Van Noy. He graduated last December with a degree in history and is engaged to be married to former Miss Utah Marissa Powell in June.
His story of going from troubled high schooler in Reno, Nev., to BYU is well-documented. A graduate of Reno’s McQueen High School, Van Noy was arrested on suspicion of DUI charges just before signing day in 2009 and had to delay his entrance to BYU for a year.
Many schools offered Van Noy the opportunity to sign and play for them immediately, but the son of Kelly and Layne Van Noy refused to back away from his commitment to Mendenhall.
Van Noy was expected by most observers to declare for the NFL Draft after the standout performance in the 23-6 win over San Diego State, but he surprised many by returning. His 2013 stats didn’t match the numbers he put up in 2012 in many cases, but he obviously showed scouts enough to warrant a second-day selection.
Van Noy was the fourth outside linebacker and fifth overall linebacker taken in the draft after Buffalo’s Kahlil Mack, UCLA’s Anthony Barr and Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier went in Thursday’s first round and Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence went early in Friday’s second round.
Kyle Van Noy’s career stats
GP Total Tckls TFL/Yds Sack/Yds Ints TDs FR/Yds QBH
52 226 62/312 26/192 7 2 5/47 32