The Patriots are among teams showing the greatest amount of interest in BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline reported Friday. The Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens also have shown interest in selecting the versatile defender in the 2014 NFL draft.
Van Noy is similar to Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, since both can rush the passer and cover tight ends and running backs. Van Noy had 13 sacks in 2012 and four in 2013.
Van Noy projects as a first- or second-round pick, so the Patriots either would have to take the BYU product with the No. 29 overall pick or trade down early into the second round to select him.
The Patriots need to draft a linebacker who can cover or rush the passer, depending on how they plan to utilize Collins this season. Collins was drafted in the second round (No. 52 overall) of the 2013 NFL draft. The Patriots have recently used high picks on linebackers Brandon Spikes (second round in 2010) and Dont’a Hightower (first round in 2012).
Pauline also reports that the Patriots attended Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell’s passing clinic on Thursday. Mississippi State defensive lineman Denico Autry, who was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, was one of 30 prospects hosted by the Patriots on pre-draft visits to Gillette Stadium.