PROVO — Through two days of the NFL draft, the state of Utah has watched three of its native sons — Utah high school football products — selected in primetime.
Former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is off to New York as the No. 2 overall pick, topping both the BYU record for top draft pick and highest-rated draft pick of an in-state product that stood since 1962 (Merlin Olsen, No. 3, LA Rams).
Not to be out-done, former Desert Hills lineman Penei Sewell — the 2019 Outland Trophy winner at Oregon — was selected No. 7 overall by the Detroit Lions. Bountiful High alum Brady Christensen, who rose from a two-star recruit to NFL draft pick, then went in the third round to the Carolina Panthers.
Now the draft gets fun.
Four rounds await the remaining prospects in the draft, a marathon of a day that starts plenty early (10 a.m. MT, ABC/ESPN/NFL Network). And the picks could fly early and quickly, especially for the remaining Utah products still on the board.
Expect to see Bingham High grad Jay Tufele early. The junior defensive tackle from USC opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, but his draft stock hasn't taken much of a hit.
Tufele was rated anywhere from a third- to fifth-round prospect, so he could be selected any time Saturday. The No. 134 overall prospect by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, Tufele rates as the 35th best remaining prospect as the draft starts the third day.
For comparison's sake, Jeremiah rated Christensen as the No. 67 prospect on his big board. The Panthers traded up three spots to grab the former BYU tackle midway through the third round with the No. 70 overall pick.
Buckle up for Saturday. Here's a look at several other prospects who could hear their names called before the weekend is over.
Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford (Brighton HS)
Like Tufele, Fehoko showed up as high as a third-round prospect in several mock drafts. The 6-foot-4, 227-pound receiver is among the older prospects, having served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Korea, and recently married his wife Bailee in March 2020.
That helps explain why Fehoko departed Stanford a year early after the one-time four-star recruit averaged 18.5 yards per reception, the third-best mark in Cardinal history. The big-play receiver was among the best during the Pac-12's truncated season, catching 37 passes for 584 yards and three touchdowns with a dazzling 230-yard, three-touchdown effort in a double-overtime victory over UCLA.
Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU (Granger HS)
The 6-foot-4, 320-pound defensive tackle from West Valley City has a wide range of projections, and is picked to go anywhere from the fourth through the seventh round by various mock drafts.
Tonga could've entered the draft a year ago but elected to return to BYU and finish a four-year career that concluded with 130 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks as the leader of the Cougars' defensive front at nose tackle.
Dax Milne, WR, BYU (Bingham HS)
Another wide-ranging prospect, Milne was once rated as high as a third-round prospect by Pro Football Focus to (more likely) a seventh-round pick by NFL.com. Wilson's favorite target during the 2020 season, the former walk-on from Bingham High amassed 1,188 receiving yards and eight touchdowns before following his QB1 to the NFL draft a year before finishing his college career.
"Assuming Wilson is the pick at No. 2 overall, we can also pencil in Milne (his favorite target) to the Jets at some point in the later rounds, right?" The Athletic's Dane Brugler joked cheekily in one of his projections.
Matt Bushman, TE, BYU
Like Tonga, Bushman also returned from draft consideration for his senior season. But the 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end from Tucson, Arizona, injured his Achilles' tendon before the Cougars' first game of 2020 and finished his career with 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns in three seasons.
Still, the son-in-law of former BYU great (and current associate athletic director) Chad Lewis will have offers at the next level — it's just most of those offers will likely come in the sixth or seventh round, if not via free agency.
"Adam Trautman is no sure thing," writes Walter Football's Walter Cherepinsky in projecting Bushman to the Saints with the 255th overall pick, "so the Saints may want to obtain another tight end."
Tristen Hoge, OG, BYU
A likely free-agent target, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound right guard from Pocatello, Idaho, shows up as a seventh-round target in a pair of mock drafts and seems likely to follow his linemate Christensen into the NFL — in some form or fashion.
Chris Wilcox, CB, BYU
A likely free-agent target, as well, Wilcox flashed a 4.35 40-yard dash during BYU's pro day in March that has NFL.com's Chad Reuter believing the 6-foot-2, 195-pound cornerback could be a target by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round.