Scouting The Fight Hunger Bowl
As part of Football.com's coverage of all 35 bowl games, we will provide a draft prospect-primer, so you know whom to watch during every postseason game.
As Christmas excitement wanes and attention turns to celebrating the New Year, bowl season is slowly transitioning from its undercard games to the main events. The Fight Hunger Bowl might not seem like a marquee matchup, but from a draft perspective, it's a game that will showcase several prospects who can expect to be taken in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB
Van Noy's pressure production is down from 2012, when he had 13 sacks and 24 TFL, but make no mistake -- he'll find way to get to the quarterback at the next level. He has terrific quickness and top-notch instincts. What I suspect will keep him out of the first round is his size. I know he's listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, but he just doesn't look like he has the thickness or strength to match the physicality of NFL tackles. Without the threat of a bull rush, he's a one-dimensional pass rusher who will need to wind up in a scheme that creates opportunities for him to utilize his quickness. The good news is that he's not just a rush specialist; Van Noy is a technically sound tackler and is decent in coverage, which makes him a legitimate every-down linebacker.
If things don't pan out in the NFL for Van Noy, he could always opt for a career in MMA, following the footsteps of former Cougars linebacker, Jan "The Saint" Jorgensen, whose name remains atop the BYU record books. Van Noy is 2.5 sacks shy of tying Jorgensen's career record (28.5), and he's already surpassed The Saint in career hurries (33).
Cody Hoffman, WR
Despite his protoype size (6-4, 210), Hoffman isn't likely to become a No. 1 receiver at the next level. He has the hands to do the job, and is a sound route runner. But he lacks the breakaway speed and elusiveness to be a true home run threat. Rather, he's more likely to be a reliable possession receiver and red zone target, and there will always be jobs available for guys like that.
Uani 'Unga, ILB
Van Noy gets the headlines, but 'Unga gets the guy with the ball. He enters bowl season second in the country with 11.2 tackles per game. Four of the seven best tackling performances in BYU history were posted by 'Unga this year. He had 15 stops again Wisconsin, 17 against both Boise State and Utah State, and set a school record with 19 stops against Notre Dame. Like Van Noy, he's a bit undersized (6-1, 233). But he's no smaller than Jon Beason, and 'Unga might be one of the draft's sleeper picks.
Eathyn Manumaleuna, DT
Talk about a cornerstone. No one has played more games for BYU than Manumaleuna, and his presence in the middle of the Cougars' defensive front has kept 'Unga free to hunt for ballcarriers unabated. He's played ample time at both nose tackle and defensive tackle over the coures of his 55 games, though at 6-2, 305, he probably projects more as a defensive in a 4-3 front.
Daniel Sorensen, S
A versatile, experienced defender, Sorensen probably could contribute at either safety spot. He's a consistent tackler (60 tackles in 2013) and has reliable skills around the football, with five interceptions over the last two seasons and 12 breakups this year alone. His measurables are fine (6-2, 208), and with decent speed, he should be a mid-Day 3 selection.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE
With all respect to Van Noy and to Bishop Sankey, the best future pro in the Fight Hunger Bowl is ASJ. His receiving numbers this season (33 rec., 413 yds., 7 TDs) don't compare to what Eric Ebron and Jace Amaro put up this year. But Seferian-Jenkins is the most complete tight end available -- maybe the best all-around tight end prospect since Rob Gronkowski (a far better blocker than stat-focused fans realize). He has elite size (6-6, 276), big hands, long arms, above average speed and will be a matchup nightmare at the next level. When you consider that he is a dominant blocker as well, it's easy to see why Seferian-Jenkins will be the first or second tight end off the board.
Bishop Sankey, RB
Reports out of Seattle are that Sankey requested an evaluation from the Draft Advisory Board, and that he received a third-round grade. That sounds about right, though it may be enough to convince Sankey to return to school. Scouts have already seen from him everything they need to know. He'll get the tough yards between the tackles and has the speed to get to the edge consistently. He'll gain a ton of yards -- Sankey set a school record with 1,775 rushing yards this season -- and has rushed for more than 3,200 yards and 34 touchdowns the last two years. But he's not a breakaway threat. The fact that he's proven he can catch the ball makes him a more versatile prospect than, say, Lache Seastrunk or Andre Williams.
Sean Parker, SS
A captain for the last two years, Parker is a leader on a young Washington defense -- though isn't its most dynamic player. Tackle Danny Shelton and linebacker Shaq Thompson are the headliners, and both players will be back for the Huskies next season. Parker, though, is steady in both coverage and run support. His tackle numbers are down considerably this year (60 tackles), though he did have four interceptions for the second time in three seasons. Parker has less-than-ideal size (5-10, 195) and decent but not explosive speed. Still, he's a late-round pick who should make a roster and provide secondary depth and a special teams contributor.