Brady Christensen was considered a possible sneak into the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, but didn’t hear his name called on Thursday night.
But Christensen still became the second former BYU player to be picked — he just had to wait for the third round on Friday, selected No. 70 overall by the Carolina Panthers.
Christensen is the first Cougar to be drafted by the Panthers and is the first BYU offensive lineman drafted since Scott Young was taken in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005.
Alongside Zach Wilson, who was the No. 2 overall pick by the New York Jets, BYU has multiple draft picks for the first time since 2010 (tight end Dennis Pitta and running back Harvey Unga) and multiple draft picks within the first three rounds since 2002 (tight end Doug Jolley and defensive lineman Ryan Denney).
The Panthers scrambled, making multiple last-minute trade deals behind the scenes. And it paid off.
Instead of walking away with two picks, as originally planned, the Panthers were able to scoop up three athletes.
“All [three are] really solid people, great competitors, smart — they fit the brand that coach talks about,” Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said in a press conference held by the organization. “Those are the kind of guys we want in this program.”
“I’d also say they’re all elite athletes,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule added. “… They have the physical abilities to continue to develop at this level.”
The Bountiful High product served a two-year church mission before enrolling at BYU and redshirting the 2017 season. In 2018, Christensen took over the starting left tackle position, starting in all 13 games, and never gave up the job through his three seasons playing for the Cougars.
Following the 2020 season, Christensen was named a consensus All-American — the first Cougar to do so in more than a decade. The Utah native was considered a top-rated tackle by Pro Football Focus in the 2021 class.
“I am so excited for Brady to see all his hard work pay off with an All-America college career and a well-deserved opportunity to play in the NFL,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in a press release. “The Panthers are getting a great football player and an amazing person. I’m looking forward to seeing him excel at the next level.”
Christensen helped lead the BYU offense line to a No. 8 ranking in the nation for the fewest sacks allowed (12 sacks in 12 games) in 2020, while allowing only two pressures on 293 pass-blocking regular-season snaps. The BYU offense also ranked No. 4 in scoring (43.5), No. 7 in total offense (522.2) and No. 8 passing offense (322.1), while also adding 190.1 yards rushing per game in 2020.
“We think he’s a versatile player — a guy who can play outside and inside,” Rhule said. “We’ll wait to see when he gets here where exactly he fits, but he comes from that pro-style offense at BYU. So, he’s done the things that we’re asking guys to do — he’s been doing it there. He’s a tackle candidate that can also go inside and play guard. Again, a great, great athlete … the whole package.”
The 6-foot-5, 302-pound left tackle showed out at BYU’s pro day in late March, recording a 4.89 40-yard dash, a 34-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump.
Christensen was instrumental in protecting Wilson, covering the former BYU quarterback’s blind side.
“We just like the person, we like the athlete,” Fitterer said. “I was at the BYU pro day and he was really impressive in person. And then you hear about the character, the work ethic, the intelligence, the toughness — that’s what really sold us on him.”