Alani Fua. He showed well at the NFL Scouting Combine, racking up top fours in three separate events. Then the BYU linebacker impressed even more at Pro Day in Provo, showing off his versatility.
But, the fact remains. For a guy who really hasn’t done much in terms of actual statistics at BYU, the world sure seems to like Fua. Count NFL Draft experts among those people who seem to have some fondness for a guy who actually played more games as a junior (13) than he did as a senior–or 10.
Either way, there’s a lot to like about a guy who in those 10 games as a senior still racked up 42 tackles–7.5 for a loss–and had four sacks, both career highs. Oh yeah, and Fua had two interceptions, too–matching his junior year totals in that category.
But, it was the Combine at which Fua shined. He rang up top performances in the 3-cone drill, designed to measure agility. Then he showed his top end speed, running the 20-yard shuttle in 4.15 seconds. And oh, by the way, he showed off his endurance, blazing past the finish tape in 11.54 seconds in the 60-yard shuttle–just in case you thought he was a one-trick pony, er, cougar.
Nope, bro. The San Fernando, Calif. native and product of famed Oaks Christian in SoCal also killed it at his Pro Day in Provo, running a 4.57 40-yard dash–consistent with his times in Indianapolis–as well as a respectable bench press, pushing up 20 reps at 225 pounds each.
All of this has NFL experts salivating, apparently. It even has Fua filled with hope on Mon. April 27 as the big draft weekend in Chicago approaches.
“Slowly but surely, after the Combine and Pro Day I went from going in the sixth round to fifth round and now I’m hearing fourth round,” said Fua, who visited the Philadelphia Eagles last week. “Things are going up and up. But who knows what’s going to happen?”
Exactly. Predicting the NFL Draft is like trying to figure out where Jimmy Hoffa is buried. One minute, Fua might be in the later rounds–and the next, he’s the second coming of Lawrence Taylor, shooting up draft boards like a rocket only to be caught by some NFL team with big designs for the kid.
Fua’s brother Sione is already in the league, and so that probably doesn’t hurt knowing that his older bro has dealt with all of this noise before. And that’s exactly what this is–yapping. Keep in mind CBSSports.com still has Fua going in the sixth round, while NFL.com has him going in the fifth.
What’s this stuff about Fua possibly going in the third or fourth round? Exactly. It’s hearsay and speculation all the way around. “The biggest thing with Fua is, where do you play him? Where is his natural position?” CBS Sports reporter Dane Brugler asked. “He lined up everywhere at BYU when I watched him on tape … pass rusher, outside, lined up over a slot receiver and drop a little bit. The biggest thing is finding where to play him.”
That may be one reason that despite Fua’s impressive numbers in Indianapolis, you don’t see NFL teams falling over each other to get to him. Another reason probably has to do with some injuries in his senior year–and the third might have to do with his limited production during his time at BYU.
All things considered, Brugler added in his interview with the Deseret News that there might be a home for Fua initially–on special teams due to his “versatility.” There are worse things in life–like not possibly making an NFL roster in the first place.
That might be the reality for other BYU draft prospects, such as wide receiver Jordan Leslie, fullback Paul Lasike, safety Skye PoVey and tight end Devin Mahina. All four are unlikely to hear their names called come Draft Day, but have a realistic shot at making a team once training camps get underway. Of those four, Leslie has a remote shot at hearing his name called this weekend, according to Brugler.
“Overall, I think you have a smart, competitive player with quick hands and impressive height-speed combination that NFL teams are looking for. He’s (Leslie) an underrated talent who might slip into the later part of the NFL Draft.”