LOCALS IN THE NFL
NFL Draft Landing Spots That Make Sense For Former BYU Players
Apr 24, 2023, 2:03 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2023, 5:06 pm
PROVO, Utah – Which BYU football players will hear their names called during the 2023 NFL Draft? We will find out this week as the draft takes place from Thursday, April 27, and runs until Saturday, April 29, in Kansas City.
Entering the draft, there is one player from BYU that appears to be a lock to be drafted. That is offensive tackle Blake Freeland.
Then there’s Jaren Hall, who seems to be experiencing a sudden surge in his draft stock after recent visits and the reported S2 Cognition score of 93%.
After those two players, a handful of BYU players could hear their names called this weekend, or they become priority undrafted free agents.
If we’ve learned anything about the NFL draft over the years, the round and pick you get drafted is not always essential. It’s about the fit. Look at Zach Wilson going No. 2 overall to the New York Jets. Then one year later, his former running back teammate Tyler Allgeier slides to the fifth round but finds a great opportunity with the Atlanta Falcons and becomes a 1,000-yard rusher.
Blake Freeland, OT
Teams that make sense: Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders
4.96u 40 for #BYU OT Blake Freeland. He’s earning some money today at the Combine. pic.twitter.com/9Ke038rGGs
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) March 5, 2023
All four of these teams enter the 2023 NFL Draft with a pressing need to grab an offensive tackle. The opportunity is there for Freeland to step in and contribute right away. What could be interesting with Freeland is that a team could fall in love with the measurables and record-setting testing he put up at the NFL Combine and could get him in the second round. It wouldn’t surprise me.
Honestly, I’m surprised there isn’t more buzz about Freeland being a second-round pick. He faced excellent competition in the last two seasons at BYU. Plus, his best football is still ahead of him—tons of upside from Freeland.
Jaren Hall, QB
My Cougar Sports Saturday co-host Matt Baiamonte laid out some intriguing situations for Hall. He listed the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, and Minnesota Vikings.
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I’d also throw in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs lost Tom Brady to retirement and signed former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield. That isn’t a long-term solution with Mayfield.
What I like about Tampa for Hall is that there would be a veteran in Mayfield that would take the pressure away from being the guy from day one. Plus, he’d have to go in and beat out 2021 draft pick Kyle Trask.
Then it doesn’t hurt to have Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to throw the ball to.
Puka Nacua, WR
Teams that make sense: New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets
Nacua will be a fascinating study in this year’s NFL draft. The former Orem High and BYU star put together solid numbers at his Pro Day, but where he shines is on the film. When healthy, Nacua was as good as any receiver in college football. BYU coach Kalani Sitake even said as much after the Cougars pulled off an upset win over Boise State.
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The 6-foot-1 Nacua is probably a day-three prospect. So teams that have needs at receiver could come calling in this spot. The New England Patriots are a franchise that Nacua has said has expressed interest. Nacua looks like the type of receiver the Patriots would love to have in New England.
The Chiefs and even New York Jets, if they get Aaron Rodgers, would also make a lot of sense. Teams that have needs and would allow for Nacua to compete for immediate playing time.
Next in line
The next three prospects to watch from BYU are defensive back Kaleb Hayes, offensive tackle Harris LaChance, and running back Chris Brooks.
These three guys might be best served to hope they don’t get selected if the sixth round comes and goes without their names being called. Then they can pick their spot.
Hayes put together an incredible Pro Day that might catapult him into the seventh round as former BYU DB Chris Wilcox did two years ago.
To a lesser degree than Freeland, Harris LaChance is a freaky athlete along the offensive line who can play nearly any spot.
Chris Brooks had a better yard per carry average (6.25) in his one season at BYU than any of Tyler Allgeier’s seasons with the Cougars.
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Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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