2016 NFL Draft: Las Vegas Bowl Scouting Preview – Utah vs. BYU


In a matchup between two 9-win teams, Brigham Young University and Utah square off. Both teams enter the game having overcome multiple challenges.

By Will Paruta

BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall will be coaching in his last game with the team after accepting a job offer to be the next head coach at the University of Virginia. On Utah’s end, they lost Devontae Booker, their leading rusher and offensive workhorse, to a torn meniscus in November. After looking like a post-season contender early in the season, Utah fizzled out down the stretch. Despite all of this, both teams boast some interesting prospects. Check them out below!


Devontae Booker, RB, #23 (NOT PLAYING)
Booker’s absence in this game (torn meniscus) will be costly for Utah. Many consider Booker to be one of the best, if not the best, players on Utah’s team. Booker’s powerful cuts, low center of gravity, and ability to navigate through traffic help him to find success on the ground. Booker isn’t afraid to run through defenders and can be a load to bring down. Despite his ability to get to the second level, Booker lacks ideal breakaway speed. His high usage at Utah may also be a cause for concern. With Booker, there are far more positives than negatives. Look for him to be a high-end day two selection.

Gionni Paul, LB, #13
Paul, a 1st Team All-PAC-12 linebacker, possesses good instincts and a quick reaction time. What he lacks in size, this team captain makes up for in production. After finishing second in the PAC-12 in total tackles and fourth in the nation with 3 fumble recoveries, Paul has proven his ability to make plays. Unfortunately, NFL teams may shy away from a 5’10” inside linebacker. Regardless, Paul should get a firm shot at the next level of football.

Jared Norris, LB, #41
Norris, a team captain as well, is as sure of a tackler as they come. After taking a good angle to the ball carrier, Norris uses sound technique and a relentless motor to rack up tackles in bunches. Because he lacks top end speed and athleticism, Norris is forced to rely on technique and know-how. His coverage skills will be tested at the next level as well. He has the look of an early day three pick with potential to sneak into day two.

Jason Fanaika, DE, #51
Said to be Utah’s strongest player, Fanaika enters this competition with a lot to prove on the field. He possesses good vision, a rock solid anchor against the double team, and an excellent ability to rip and shed blockers. He can be flat out disruptive at the point of attack from time to time. Despite proving to be a serviceable player, Fanaika has his weaknesses. He has a tendency to play too high, can be exposed in coverage, and lacks a full arsenal of pass rushing moves. Fanaika needs a strong showing.


Bronson Kaufusi, DE, #90
Kaufusi entered the 2015 season on the Nagurski Trophy Watch List as well as the Bednarik Award Watch List. Although he didn’t come away with either, Kaufusi finished the season with double digit sacks (11), which places him second all-time in career sacks at BYU. Kaufusi is athletic, having played basketball at BYU as well. Kaufusi’s ideal size, athleticism, and production make him an interesting prospect moving forward.

Mitch Mathews, WR, #10
Mathews, a preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list member, followed a strong junior season with a productive senior campaign. By hauling in 20 touchdown grabs over the last two years, the 6’6” wide receiver has proven to be a mismatch in the red zone. Using his large frame, Mathews plays like a man amongst boys. Although he certainly won’t take the top off a defense, Mathews is a quarterback friendly target. Mathews has a chance to go on day three of the draft.

 Taysom Hill, QB, #4 (NOT PLAYING)
Despite losing his senior season at BYU to a foot injury, Hill is an intriguing prospect. He could potentially apply for a medical redshirt and seek a final year of eligibility as a graduate student. Hill is a strong dual threat quarterback that plays faster than he looks. His ability to extend plays with his legs is a plus. Ultimately, Hill is too inconsistent as a passer. He often looks to run if his first read isn’t open. Despite his scrambling ability, Hill’s passing ability is not NFL worthy. If possible, it is in his best interest to spend an additional year trying to developing into a more complete player at the collegiate level.

Ryker Mathews, OT, #72
Mathews is the definition of perseverance. Mathews has overcome more than a few debilitating injuries to play a complete senior season. He possesses NFL size and excels when run blocking. Mathews is as tough as they come. If he tests well, he may have a shot to earn a contract as an undrafted free agent following the draft.

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