BYU in the NFL: 2014 Outlook for Cougars in the Pros


Unfortunately, the number of former Cougars playing in the NFL has dropped significantly after the final 53-man roster and practice squad cuts following the preseason. For those who made the cut let’s look at their outlook for the upcoming year, going from newest in the league to oldest.

Kyle Van Noy – Detroit Lions

After an abdominal injury and surgery, KVN is on the injured reserve/designated to return list for the Detroit Lions. This means not much is going to be expected of him until the second half of the season. When he returns, the layoff will have hurt his growth during his rookie season as a lack of missing out on valuable regular season game reps. This puts him behind his peers, and will most likely result in his not winning the starting job on the team, as was expected before the injury.

That said, he should be a solid contributor at strongside linebacker for the latter-half of the season if he can stay healthy. His first start should be Week 10 against Miami.

Daniel Sorensen – Kansas City Chiefs

What may be one of the best stories from this year’s draft, Daniel Sorensen goes from undrafted free agent to making the 53-man roster for KC. He started all four preseason games for the Chiefs and saw a lot of action at the safety spot.

He is expected to be the primary backup for Eric Berry, who has been out thus far with a heel injury. However, with Berry being somewhat injury prone it isn’t unlikely that Sorensen will end up starting a handful of games this year for the Chiefs.

Spencer Hadley – Oakland Raiders

We all know how talented Hadley was as we watched his career at BYU. It was tough to watch as he was passed over in the draft this year, not having the senior campaign he was expecting before the 2013 season was derailed by injury and suspension.

After being cut by the New Orleans Saints, the Oakland Raiders picked up Hadley and is now a member of the practice squad. This can change at any time, but the Raiders must like the potential Hadley brings to keep him on the 1o-man squad.

Ezekiel Ansah – Detroit Lions

The fifth-overall pick from the 2013 draft had offseason shoulder surgery and has been working to come back from that during the preseason. He saw significant action in the final two preseason games for the Lions and appears to not have missed a beat.

Ziggy is expected to resume his starting defensive end spot this season and really to have a breakout year. He lead all rookies in sacks last season and if he can stay healthy, the Lions expect huge dividends from their second-year pro. He has the backing from the coaching staff and is in the perfect position to succeed this season.

More from Cougars in the Pros

Hebron Fangupo – Kansas City Chiefs

As I wrote about here the Chiefs picked up Fangupo this week for their practice squad. Fangupo is a NFL talent and a great pro to have on KC’s practice squad. No guarantees, but another great chance for him to stick around in the NFL.

Dallas Reynolds – New York Giants

Reynolds made the 53-man roster cut this week and is listed as the backup at LG and third string for C for the New York Football Giants. The coaching staff sees Reynolds as a reliable veteran who has the versatility to play along an offensive line that has had its fair share of struggles in recent years. Reynolds should be able to hold down this spot in NY for the foreseeable future.

Dennis Pitta – Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens and Joe Flacco deeply missed Pitta after suffering a nasty hip injury last year. Now he is back and healthy, where he will assume his starting spot at TE and as one of Flacco’s favorite targets.

New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is expected to involve Pitta heavily in the passing game to keep defenses guessing and build a capable running game for a more balanced attack. Pitta is already regarded as one of the top tight ends in the game right now, but after this season he should be a household name.

John Denney – Miami Dolphins

Denney is in his tenth season out of BYU and his main role is as deep snapper for the Dolphins. Not too much to say about that, since when you aren’t hearing about a deep snapper that is usually a good thing – he is doing his job. Bill Belichick thinks he is really good though.

Brett Keisel – Pittsburgh Steelers

Keisel just re-signed with the Steelers for two years after missing out on training camp and most of the preseason. At 35 and 13 years in the league, Keisel is at the end of his playing career but is expected to contribute along the defensive line for Pittsburgh or they wouldn’t have brought him back.

Coach Tomlin said “I still think we’re just getting a sense of what Brett is capable of from a snap standpoint. That will have a lot to do with his utilization in the game along with the performance of others. He’s going to be an asset to us. I look forward to watching him round into form.” 

Keisel will bring veteran leadership and can still get after it. Its likely that he and “Da Beard” will retire after these two seasons as one of their greats on defense.