Two 8-4 teams, Washington and BYU, face off in northern California’s Fight Hunger Bowl where more than a fair share of NFL talent should be on display.
This game is littered with Shrine Game and Senior Bowl invitees as well as a couple of underclassmen expected to declare in the coming weeks. Here are the names to know as we continue to dive head-first into NFL Draft season.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU, (#3), 6’3 235
BYU’s top Senior Bowl invitee and probable first rounder, Van Noy is a great example of how bowl games can impact a player’s draft “stock”. Last year, he capped a very productive ’12 season with a lights out performance in the Poinsettia Bowl, which put him on national radar. Van Noy is a sideline to sideline player with outstanding instincts in pass coverage and has a dangerous first step as an edge rusher. Because of his size and frame, he is somewhat underwhelming as a stack and shed ‘backer against the run and can be flushed, but the willingness and effort are there to improve with added strength.
Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU, (#2), 6’3 215
Hoffman certainly looks the part and in January he’ll get an up-close look from NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl as well. He’s not overly explosive but Hoffman plays with the physicality to win at the line and run routes through contact. He’s an ideal perimeter player with the awareness and body control to work the sidelines. Hoffman is somewhat frustrating to evaluate because he flashes big play ability downfield but his hands remain too inconsistent, overall.
(JR) Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington, (#25), 5’10 200
Sankey is likely to declare after the bowl despite receiving a 3rd round projection from the draft advisory board. With over 600 career carries, Sankey has been a workhorse for the Huskies and has been incredibly durable thus far. He’s not a flashy runner, but vision and balance are where he excels (two historically key components of successful backs). He’s an underrated receiver and has been solid in pass protection so there’s no reason to believe he cannot be an instant contributor in the NFL.
(JR) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington, (#88), 6’6 266
The 2013 Mackey Award winner seems to have cooled in the draft community after many touted him as the best tight end in the country before the season. Even with the injuries and off-field issues, Seferian-Jenkins may still hang on to a fringe first round grade from us. He won’t be confused with Jimmy Graham, but ASJ has the height, frame, and enough athleticism to be a mismatch for any NFL defense. He’s a plug and play receiver who is also a body mover as an inline blocker. Like most big tight ends, he’s a build up runner but his catch radius and playmaking ability in traffic should enhance any offense.
Other Prospects to Watch
Kaneakua Friel TE, BYU, (#82), 6’5 255
Friel is a big-bodied tight end with solid hands and is bruising after the catch. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him on more people’s radar after the Shrine Game as he’s also a high upside blocker as well.
Sean Parker, S, Washington, (#1), 5’10, 190
Looking over game notes from this season, Sean Parker kept appearing as a playmaker on the back end. His read and react ability is his best attribute and he’ll also be participating in the Shrine Game.
Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU, (#9), 6’2 215
Another Shrine Game invitee, head coach Bronco Mendenhall has expressed that there is heavy NFL interest in Sorensen. With prototypical size, he’s aggressive in the box but he’s also athletic enough to open up and make plays downfield.
Keith Price, QB, Washington, (#17), 6’1, 202
Yet another Shrine Game player, Price will go down as one of the all-time greats in Washington history. Known for his moxy, Price is average to below average in nearly every physical component but he’s shown enough field command and playmaking ability to garner the interest of NFL scouts.
Uani Unga, ILB, BYU, (#41), 6’1, 233
An Oregon State transfer, Unga had a productive career with the Cougars and figures to be on several teams’ radar as a priority free agent.