Could stand to improve ability to shed blocks in run defense
Good but not elite speed
Summary: Every year, there are some prospects who make a mistake by going back to school for another season. One can make an argument that Van Noy is the 2014 prospect who was hurt the most by going back to school rather than entering the 2013 NFL Draft. After a massive junior season, Van Noy looked like a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but decided to return to BYU. While the senior didn't have a bad 2013 season, it fell far short of his junior year and made him look like a second-day pick rather than a Thursday-night selection.
Van Noy made his presence felt with a strong debut in 2011. The sophomore recorded 68 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, three passes batted and three interceptions in 2011. That was just a little taste of what he would do in 2012.
Van Noy was one of the nation's leading sackers in 2012 with 13 quarterback takedowns. The junior also notched 53 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and five passes batted. Van Noy was the most impressive player on a BYU defense that included the 2013 NFL Draft's fifth overall-pick, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Van Noy actually taught the Ghana native Ansah a lot of football and was a huge help to Ansah developing into an impact player.
Van Noy closed out the 2012 season with a game for the ages. He scored two touchdowns against San Diego State. On the first, Van Noy dropped into coverage and picked off a pass with a 17-yard touchdown return. The other touchdown came by recovering a fumble in the end zone.
Even though 2013 turned out to be a moderately disappointing season, Van Noy still made a lot of impact plays for BYU. He recorded 68 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, seven passes batted and two interceptions. Teams also game planned to avoid Van Noy. Even though the senior's numbers were down, he made a lot of impact plays that didn't show up on the stat sheet. That means Van Noy still produced good tape for NFL evaluators. At the Senior Bowl, he was solid, but didn't do enough to help himself get back into first-round consideration.
For the NFL, Van Noy could use more strength for holding up and shedding blocks that come straight at him. He's a good pursuit run-defender, but downhill rushing attacks can give him some challenges.
Van Noy would be at his best if he is moved around and used in a variety of ways. He can rush the passer off the edge and shift from inside to outside linebacker. His best asset is his pass defense. Van Noy is a dangerous edge rusher who can get to the quarterback. If he is used as a pass-rusher, he should produce good sack totals. Van Noy also can drop into pass coverage and operates well in zone coverage. He could be a nice linebacker to help match up against tight ends.
Van Noy is very instinctive and finds a way to make plays. With his good tape, production, skill set and versatility, Van Noy looks like a solid second-day pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Considering what he did in 2012 with Ansah on the other side from him, Van Noy could end up being one of the steals of the 2014 NFL Draft if he lands on a defense with some other talent.
Player Comparison: Shaun Phillips. Since being a fourth-round pick out of Purdue by the Chargers, Phillips has been a steady producer as an edge rusher. Phillips (6-3, 255) isn't the biggest of defenders, but he knows how to get pressure in the backfield. Van Noy is a little smaller and can do more in pass coverage, but as he ages and gets heavier, I could see him developing into a player like Phillips.
NFL Matches: Detroit, Green Bay, Dallas, San Diego, Cincinnati, New Orleans
There are a lot of teams who could target Van Noy on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft. In the NFC North, the Lions could use an outside linebacker, plus Van Noy would be reunited as an edge-rushing partner with Ansah. The Packers could also use Van Noy as an inside and outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. He would provide some pass-rushing depth to protect Green Bay from more injuries to Nick Perry and Clay Matthews.
The Cowboys need a Will (weakside) linebacker and Van Noy could be a candidate. Dallas also could like his flexibility in case the team decides to switch back to a 3-4 in a year's time.
San Diego badly needs some edge-rushing help. Dwight Freeney isn't a long-term option, and the Chargers could use a pass-rusher to pair with Melvin Ingram - assuming Ingram pans out.
Cincinnati needs youth at linebacker. James Harrison is an old, stop-gap player, while Rey Maualuga is in the final year of his contract. Van Noy could help provide pass rush if Michael Johnson leaves in free agency.
New Orleans would be a great fit for Van Noy. Rob Ryan and the Saints like versatile defenders, which makes Van Noy an ideal player for New Orleans. He could play inside and outside linebacker while also being an edge rusher and pass defender. Going against Jimmy Graham in practice would sharpen Van Noy's coverage skills as well. Van Noy landing with the Saints in Round 2 makes a lot of sense.
I messed up the 2nd round order, so I'm gonna try this again. Same deal as last time, no trades this time around like I did in my first mock even though projecting them can be fun. I'll do another one in about a month or so after the Super Bowl, Senior Bowl, combine and all that other good stuff.