Kyle Van Noy had what could be described as a magical season in his junior season at BYU. He was an incredibly talented player that made virtually every play he could and got the benefit of good fortune. In all, he had 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 5 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, and 2 blocked kicks. As a result, it was virtually impossible for Van Noy to match that type of production as a senior year, even though he could still improve as a player.
As a senior, Van Noy has become even more effective at being a truly versatile threat that does everything for the in head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s defensive scheme. He rushes the passer, plays the run, drops into coverage in zone and man, and all of those abilities make it difficult to predict and game plan against as an opponent.
Projecting to the NFL, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder with Van Noy. He has so much talent and so many skills that he could legitimately project to about five different positions in the NFL. The most obvious fit for Van Noy is as a leo backer or 3-4 outside linebacker as he has played for the Cougars, but he could also play weak side linebacker, strong side linebacker in the 4-3 and an inside linebacker in the 3-4.
He has impressive athleticism, fluidity and burst, outstanding instincts, more strength than people might expect, and what appears to be an incredible football acumen. Van Noy can rush the passer, manages to take on and shed blocks as well as slip them, drop into coverage in zone as well as help in man coverage schemes. The main question that will be discussed about Van Noy is his size and whether or not he is big enough to be a great NFL player. The answer is yes, but he does have some issues that need to be cleaned up such as a bad habit with lunging to make tackles. Van Noy warrants a late first round selection, but he appears to be the classic player that seems to deserve to go in round 1, then slips to round 2 and then makes everyone look bad for not taking him in round 1.
Vitals & Build
Van Noy is listed at 6’3” 245lbs with an extremely lean build. The 245lb mark seems a little generous but hopefully for Van Noy’s sake, it is close to true. He demonstrates good quickness and agility in short areas with a high energy level and a good motor with solid overall stamina. Van Noy shows good functional strength and may surprise some with just how much power he can display, but his frame does appear capable of continuing to add weight without having dropping off athletically.
For the most part, Van Noy displays good form and consistent technique as a tackler. He wraps up and does a good job of having his feet under him to explode through the ball carrier. His use of form and technique also allows him to make powerful tackles and jar the ball loose. There is too much lunging in how he tackles, especially with when Van Noy attempts to get sacks; the time he should need to lunge the least. He has missed plays as a result and made tackles more risky than they should be. This is a habit he needs to work to eliminate.
In his Leo role, he is often attacking up the field and does not have a ton of opportunities to make plays against the run, but he can use his quickness and agility to make blockers miss and be able to attack into the backfield. He has done a pretty good job of holding the edge, maintaining heel’s depth, and working to collapse the hole to clog up running lanes. Unblocked, he has the acceleration and speed to run down plays from behind.
As an inside linebacker, Van Noy would rather try to sift through trash and make blockers miss rather than take them on, which is effective when it works. He has done more to work to take on blocks and shed them rather than just slip them this year and while he is not really a guy who is going to stone an offensive lineman and push them backward, he does not need to be. Van Noy uses his hands effectively to keep blockers out of his body and keep himself free which allows him to make plays. Occasionally, he will be engulfed, but not nearly as often as one might think.
This year, Van Noy has been used in coverage far more than he was last year and he has done a terrific job. He has shown the ability to drop into coverage in zone with the ability to slide and read the quarterback’s eyes and make plays on the ball. Van Noy gets into his drops quickly and shows good range.
Van Noy has shown the ability to play in man coverage as well and the Cougars have been confident in using him to defend receivers in the slot. He has the hips and fluidity to react well in coverage and the speed to make plays. While it is not terribly likely he will be covering many slot receivers in the NFL, he could be a valuable asset against tight ends. Van Noy is physical enough to hold up against most tight ends and more than athletic enough to stay with them. He will have a disadvantage with size against some, but he is savvy enough to handle it.
Pass Rush & Blitz ability
Van Noy’s first step and snap anticipation are excellent and is often times able to get a fantastic jump on opposing offensive linemen and is often able to beat to turn the corner and get to the quarterback. When he is able to work half the man, Van Noy does a good job of being slippery, using his hands and body to box out the offensive tackle from blocking him as he flattens out to the quarterback. He also shows enough of an inside rush to keep opponents honest and give them enough to think about where he can keep them guessing. There are times when he will fake outside to get the tackle to jump before attacking inside through the B gap to get to the quarterback. While he is not overly heavy in terms of weight, he can be tough to block when he gets his momentum going against offensive tackles, though granted, some of them have not been high level competition where he piled up some of his sacks.
Van Noy shows decent hand use and can continue working but he is often times able to avoid ever really blocking blocked and keep separation from the opponent so he can slash at the quarterback or ball carrier. When he does get blocked, he can be engulfed and overwhelmed, but he has worked to get better at being able to stay alive, fight through plays and keep rushing the passer.
Aside from his outside speed rush, Van Noy has also shown a spin move. Van Noy has a slow, deliberate spin move but has also added a snap version that can catch opponents by surprise. His hand fighting creates opportunities and allows him to beat blocks as well. He is willing to attack up the field outside and uses his hands to enable to work back inside underneath the tackle as well as using a bull rush to keep opponents honest and when he can get a head of steam going, he can cause problems with it, especially if he can get to the inside half of the blocker. While he has shown the ability to make the play and secure the sack on the first move, typically that outside speed rush, he has shown he can make plays on the second effort as well and rarely gives up on plays. And with the Cougars defense playing to strengths, Van Noy has plenty of experience rushing from both sides as well as running stunts both from the edge and as an inside backer.
Van Noy has also shown to be an effective blitz option when lined up as an inside linebacker. He not only has the quickness and acceleration to take advantage of holes when they present themselves, but he has a good sense of timing on when to attack when he is sent immediately or on delayed blitzes like when he is used in a spy type role. He is not afraid to take on guards and try to beat them with quickness, power, or both. His ability and willingness to attack the A and B gap could make him attractive to teams who like to blitz their inside backers.
He had an impressive number of fumbles caused, but he could refine his technique for how he goes about it. Rather than simply hitting them as hard as he can while wrapping them up, he could make a more concerted effort to use his back arms to either swat the ball out or pin the quarterback’s throwing arm against his body. The results have dropped dramatically from his junior year and that could be part of the reason.
One area Van Noy needs to improve upon is just making the opportunities count. In addition to lunging at opponents, he will also end up in the backfield out of control at times and be unable to break down and end up missing tackle to secure the sack. The fact that he has been productive as he has with the number of opportunities he has missed is pretty remarkable.
Van Noy has shown to be a standout on special teams for the Cougars blocking a pair of kicks this past year. He has the quickness and ability to accelerate to get into the backfield and does a good job of reaching in front of the mesh point to avoid getting called for penalties for roughing the kicker. In a game and a league where the more spots and situations a player can contribute, the better, Van Noy should be a welcome addition.
Outside of specific measurables teams are looking for, there is no scheme that Van Noy cannot play. Van Noy can obviously play a leo backer, but he can play as an outside linebacker or inside linebacker in the 3-4 as well as playing either the strong or weak side in the 4-3. It all depends on what a team wants him to do or what they need him to do. What makes Van Noy such an intriguing player is just the breadth of skills he brings to the table and the versatility he can display. Regardless of the scheme or system he ends up playing, Van Noy should be a three down player, because of his ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage.
The player that stands out as a comparison for Van Noy is recently drafted Sio Moore from Connecticut, who went in the third round to the Oakland Raiders. Moore was a Swiss army knife in the Connecticut defense playing all over the place from an outside linebacker to a rush end to an inside linebacker, much like Van Noy has done for BYU. Moore was a productive player and an extremely well prepared one going into the NFL just as Van Noy will be when he goes into the NFL. Moore has been able to go out and make an instant impact for the Raiders and Van Noy should be able to have a similar impact wherever he is drafted.
Before he attended BYU, Kyle Van Noy had a DUI and had to miss a year in compliance with their honor code. Indications are that he has grown up in the four years since that incident and learned from it, but it is a small blip that NFL teams will want to check out to make sure it is not a problem going forward. There are going to be questions about his size and how much he can physical potential he has going forward, but he plays stronger than he looks and his instincts and intelligence for the game should help alleviate some of those concerns.
Van Noy looks like someone who should really move up when he gets into the draft process, whether it is on the field or interview situations with teams and can display just how smart he is on the football field. He appears to be the player that every team says they want in their locker room and brings additional value in terms of leadership and work ethic. Van Noy should be in the first round discussion, but it would hardly be surprising if he ends up going in the second round much like Lavonte David did when he came out of Nebraska, then making it clear to everyone why he should have gone in the first round as David has with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com