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PROVO — The 2015 NFL draft has come and gone, with no Cougar selected. The lack of a player being drafted has become routine for BYU. However, 2016 might be a better year for Cougars looking to follow their dreams of playing in the NFL. Here are my breakdowns of BYU’s top players who will be eligible for the 2016 NFL draft.
For lack of a better expression, Taysom Hill is a freak of an athlete. His combination of speed and strength is nearly unrivaled in college football. The big question mark with Hill that remains, however, is whether or not he is able to beat teams with his arm. In 2014, Hill appeared to make some strides in the passing game and completed passes at a much better clip than he did in 2013. In some ways, for Hill at least, taking away his legs because of an injury could be a blessing in disguise. Hill has not been able to run all spring and has been forced to throw from the pocket. If Hill can consistently beat teams with his arm and show poise in the pocket, he has the potential to be a first-round pick.
Prediction: Drafted in first round of 2016 NFL draft
2014 was a frustrating year for Williams. For a variety of reasons, Williams only saw action in seven games and had to leave two of them early with an injury. This was not the follow-up that was expected after terrific freshman and sophomore campaigns. Williams will get a chance to prove what he’s made of against a brutal September schedule. However, Williams is a little slight and might not have elite speed. Also, the running back position has been devalued in NFL circles. For these reasons, I don’t see Williams being drafted in the 2016 NFL draft.
Prediction: Undrafted free agent
Mathews turned in a terrific 2014 campaign that included 73 receptions and nine touchdowns. His best game came against the Nevada Wolfpack. In that game, Mathews caught 16 passes and simply overmatched hapless Wolfpack defenders. Mathews does not have elite speed but he is 6-foot-6 and can jump through the roof (just watch him dunk a basketball). He could prove to be a nightmare for smaller cornerbacks in the NFL. If Mathews has a big senior season, and every indication is that he will, he might be snagged up by a team looking for a red zone threat.
Prediction: Drafted in fourth round of 2016 NFL draft
Cougar coaches tinkered with Kaufusi last year and tried him out at the linebacker position. While Kaufusi’s athleticism allowed this change to happen, he seems much better suited as a defensive end. Kaufusi is big and quick and knows how to get to the quarterback. His height enables him to be disruptive in the passing game from the defensive end position as he can knock down passes at the line. His combination of speed and size will catch NFL scouts’ notice.
Prediction: Drafted in sixth round of 2016 NFL draft
For whatever reason, Adam Hine has not turned into a consistent performer at the running back position for the Cougars. Whether it’s a lack of vision or some other reason, it's not for me to say. However, he is explosive as a kick returner. In 2013, he averaged over 27 yards a return. In 2014, he returned a kick against Virginia 99 yards for a score. His ability to return kicks won’t get him drafted but he will sign on to a NFL team as an undrafted free agent.
Prediction: Undrafted free agent
What do you think, Cougar nation? Will 2016 be a better draft year for BYU?