LOCALS IN THE NFL

3 NFL Storylines With Utah Ties To Watch This Season

Sep 5, 2019, 5:17 PM | Updated: Sep 8, 2019, 6:22 pm
Taysom Hill New Orleans Saints...
Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins at Mercedes Benz Superdome on August 29, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The 2019 NFL season is here and multiple players with ties to the state of Utah will be key contributors this year.

There are dozens of players in the NFL this season with ties to Utah high schools and colleges.

From former Cougars to Utes, here are the top storylines to watch for this season.

Another Super Bowl Ring?

Will former Cougar, Kyle Van Noy, get another Super Bowl ring following this season?

The New England Patriots linebacker is entering his sixth season in the league and his fourth with the Patriots. Van Noy was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Patriots in 2016. He helped the Pats comeback from a 25-point deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime and win his first Super Bowl ring.

Last season, the Patriots linebacker started all 16 regular-season games leading the team to an 11-5 record and another AFC East division title. Van Noy was a key player for the team throughout the playoffs including a sack against the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, the Patriots third consecutive championship game. The Patriots defeated the Rams 13-3 giving the former Cougar his second ring.

Entering the 2019 season, the Patriots return much of their championship team and currently sit at 6/1 odds to win the Lombardi Trophy for the second year in a row.

Elite Specialists

The Utah Utes have had stellar specialists on special teams in recent years and two players from last year’s team are taking their talents to NFL squads this fall.

Mitch Wishnowsky and Matt Gay were both national award-winning players during the Ute careers.

Wishnowsky won the Ray Guy Award for the nation’s best punter in 2016. During that season he had the second-best punting average in the country at 47.7 yards per punt.

Gay, a soccer player turned football kicker, was an All-American and Lou Groza Award winner for the nation’s best placekicker in 2017.

Both were drafted in the first 5 rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft. Wishnowsky was taken in the fourth round with the 110th overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers. Gay was selected in the fifth round with the 145 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Both are currently projected starters according to team depth charts. Will their award-winning legs translate to the professional level and land them spots in the Pro Bowl?

Swiss Army Knife

He is everyone’s favorite backup quarterback. Saints QB Taysom Hill is entering his third NFL season and is looking to expand his role and impact.

The former Cougar dual-threat is currently third on the depth chart behind QB1 Drew Brees and backup Teddy Bridgewater.

Even though he’s buried on the depth chart for his desired position, Hill has found other ways to contribute and get playing time. After playing some quarterback, running back, tight end, kick returner and more.

Hill has been called versatile, the do-it-all quarterback, the swiss army knife, and even the Mormon Missile by his teammate, Alvin Kamara.

Hill has been the highlight of preseason Saints QB challenges. He’s won contests in practice but he’s also performed well in preseason games. He’s played in four preseason games in 2019. He’s thrown the ball 59 times with a completion percentage of 67.8% for three touchdowns and a single interception. Additionally, he’s run the ball 18 times for 148 yards.

Is Hill developing into a legitimate NFL QB? Is he the heir to Drew Brees? Will he get a chance to prove that in regular-season snaps? If the Saints can put some teams away early, expect to see Hill get some reps at QB this season.

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3 NFL Storylines With Utah Ties To Watch This Season