Former BYU and Granger High School defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga is a pro.
Tonga was selected by the Chicago Bears in the seventh round with the 250th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft on Saturday.
ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson noted “it never hurts to add possible depth at nose tackle” in regards to the Tonga selection.
“Tonga is a big body (6-foot-2, 325 pounds) who can eat up space in the middle of the defensive line,” Dickerson wrote. “Seventh-round picks always face an uphill battle to make the roster, but the Bears aren’t super deep at defensive tackle after (Eddie) Goldman, Mario Edwards Jr. and Akiem Hicks, who can play anywhere up front.”
In 2020, the 6-foot-2, 325-pound DT had 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks for the Cougars. He also forced a fumble. His best game was against Coastal Carolina, when he racked up 10 tackles.
“Space-eating nose for odd or even fronts with excellent size and quality shed power but lacking desired knee bend to consistently grow his roots against opposing power. There are moments when Tonga really flashed over the last two seasons, but a step up in competition will test him,” NFL analyst Lance Zierlein wrote.
“He’s not overly explosive, but his initial hand quickness will allow him early positioning advantages that can be capitalized upon. He’s not going to be a third-down option for an NFL rush attack. However, he will use brute force to create some pressure up the gut. He has the upside to become a low-end, early-down starter but a career as a backup should be his floor.”
Tonga is the first defensive tackle drafted from BYU in 22 years. The last Cougar defensive tackle taken in the NFL draft was Daren Yancey, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Oakland Raiders in 1999.
“Another athletic nose tackle,” Trapasso wrote. “Rushes are high but powerful enough to displace interior blockers on a relatively routine basis. Just slower footed and doesn’t have a reliable pass-rush move arsenal.”