After its best season in more than a decade, BYU now has its best NFL draft class in nearly two decades.
With back-to-back selections Saturday, Khyiris Tonga was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 250th overall pick in the seventh round and Chris Wilcox was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 251st pick. Dax Milne was then picked up by the Washington Football Team with the 258th pick, giving BYU five players chosen in the 2021 draft.
BYU previously had Zach Wilson selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the New York Jets on Thursday and Brady Christensen went to the Carolina Panthers in the third round on Friday.
The five former Cougars are the most selected in a single draft since five BYU players (Doug Jolley, Ryan Denney, Brandon Doman, Luke Staley and Brett Keisel) were picked in the 2002 NFL draft.
Tonga originally considered leaving BYU a year early, but decided to come back to Provo to continue to build up his resume and get more eyes on his play. The gamble paid off as BYU was one of the first programs to start playing and was the only team playing in the west for a while.
Add in the fact that BYU kept winning, and all eyes were on the Cougars.
Tonga finished the 2020 season with 36 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss (15 yards), three quarterback hurries and five pass breakups.
The 6-foot-2, 326-pound nose tackle appeared in 47 games in four seasons at BYU.
Wilcox’s BYU career got extended when an injury forced the California native to redshirt the 2019 season. Wilcox didn’t see the same success in his final season as in previous years, but showed out during BYU’s pro day — most notably running a 4.31 40-yard dash.
“I was just talking to [head coach] Bruce [Arians] as I was heading down here, and we feel like all of these guys have a legit shot at making our football team — in a special teams role or what have you,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said of the players selected on Saturday in a press conference. “... We feel good about all of them right making our football team. Now, if that happens, that remains to be seen. But right now we feel pretty good about it.”
Milne was a pleasant surprise throughout the 2020 season. As a junior, Milne recorded a breakout season with 1,188 yards and eight touchdowns on 70 receptions. The South Jordan native averaged 16.97 yards per reception, while his longest catch was 78 yards.
“We feel like we drafted good football players that have an opportunity to get better,” Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner said in a press conference held by the organization. “They’re guys that have done a lot of good things on tape, and their ceiling, their potential hasn’t been reached yet. We’ll get them in here, kind of get them into our program and have them grow.”
Undrafted free agents
As soon as the draft wrapped up, news of other former Cougars signing with teams started emerging.
As of Saturday evening, Chandon Herring, Isaiah Kaufusi, Zayne Anderson and Matt Bushman were reported to have signed contracts. Herring is heading to the Tennessee Titans, Kaufusi to the Indianapolis Colts, Anderson is joining Andy Reid with the Kansas City Chiefs and Bushman is heading to Las Vegas with the Raiders.
Later, news broke that Tristen Hoge would be signing with the New York Jets, joining Wilson.
Troy Warner shared the news Saturday night that he signed with the Los Angeles Rams, followed by Zac Dawe signing with the Atlanta Falcons.