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BYU Football: Comparing the 2021 NFL Draft Class to Prior Classes

It's been over 10 years since BYU had multiple players selected in the same draft - that will change this year.

It's been over 10 years since BYU had multiple players selected in the same draft - that will change this year. Quarterback Zach Wilson has become a consensus top-15 pick among NFL draft experts. Brady Christensen was projected to be selected as the 21st overall pick by the Colts in PFF's latest mock draft. Wilson will be the first QB selected out of BYU since 2007 and Christensen will be the first OL selected out of BYU since 2005. 

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In addition, former Cougars like Dax Milne, Matt Bushman, Khyiris Tonga, Chandon Herring, Tristen Hoge, Troy Warner, Isaiah Kaufusi, and Chris Wilcox could be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft.

For the purpose of this article, we will assume that Zach Wilson and Brady Christensen are NFL Draft locks. Dax Milne probably wouldn't have declared for the NFL Draft unless he received some pretty encouraging draft grades from NFL scouts - we will assume he is drafted as well. The next tier of players includes Matt Bushman, Khyiris Tonga, and Chandon Herring. If two of those three players are selected in the draft, that brings the total to five BYU players that could be selected in the same draft. 

Today, I wanted to answer the following question: when was the last time BYU had this many NFL draft prospects in the same class and how does this class compare to other BYU draft classes?

Take a look at this graph - it plots the number of players drafted out of BYU since 1990:

Note: This graph excludes the supplemental draft. 

BYU NFL Draft Selections

The last time BYU had multiple players selected in the NFL draft was Austin Collie and Fui Vakapuna in 2009. If three BYU players are drafted, that would be the most since three BYU players (Brady Poppinga, Scott Young, Shaun Nua) were taken in the 2005 NFL Draft. 

If you add Khyiris Tonga, Chandon Herring, or Matt Bushman, that would be the most since five BYU players were selected in the 2002 NFL Draft. 

If five BYU players are selected in upcoming draft, that would be tied for the second most in program history behind only 1986 and 1981 where seven players were selected out of BYU. However, the NFL Draft included more rounds in 1986 and 1981. If you exclude the picks after the seventh round (the number of rounds in the current NFL draft format) then two players would have been selected in 1986 and five players would have been selected in 1981.

In other words, five NFL Draft picks (in rounds one through seven) would be tied for the most in BYU history. In addition, it wouldn't be impossible for Tonga, Bushman, and Herring to hear their name called in April. If six players are selected, you could argue that this is the best BYU draft class of all time. Not just because of quantity, but quality:

  • Zach Wilson would be a top-10 pick. If he is selected before the fifth pick, he would be the highest draft pick in BYU history. 
  • If Brady Christensen sneaks into the first round like PFF thinks he might, it would only be the second time in BYU history where two Cougars were taken in the first round of the same draft. The last time it happened was in 1987 when Shawn Knight and Jason Buck were selected in the first round.

So how does it compare to prior classes? It all depends on what happens in rounds 4-7 with the fringe prospects. The 2021 NFL Draft should be an exciting one to follow for BYU fans.

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