Despite all the attention and importance that is given to the draft and players chosen in the draft, it is of course no guarantee of success in the NFL.
Allgeier is the 34th player from BYU to be drafted since 2000. Let’s look at what happened (or continues to happen) to the 33 BYU draftees who preceded him.
Eight of those players played in the Super Bowl, although one of them was on the practice squad at the time. Rob Morris, Brett Keisel, Austin Collie, Kyle Van Noy, Fred Warner, Dennis Pitta and Doug Jolley not only played on the sport’s biggest stage, but they made significant contributions. Van Noy has played in three Super Bowls, Keisel two.
At least seven of the players suffered injuries that hastened the ends of their careers. Multiple concussions ended the promising career of wide receiver Collie, who performed brilliantly in five seasons for the Colts. Luke Staley, the best running back BYU ever put on the field, sustained a knee injury in his first training camp — the latest in a long history of injuries — and never played professionally. Pitta was one of the top tight ends in the league for the Ravens, but after two serious hip injuries doctors advised him to quit the game. Linebacker Morris was the anchor of the Colts’ defense but after undergoing surgery to repair a knee injury early in the 2007 season, he was unable to pass the team’s physical the following year and retired after eight seasons.
Seven of those 33 players never played a down in the NFL — all of them were drafted in rounds 5-7 — but some made practice squads. Seven players left the league after playing only 1-2 seasons, and one of those never saw the field.
Only three of those players were selected for the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s version of the All-Star game — Ezekiel Ansah, Warner and Keisel.
Of those 33 drafted players, 15 of them played three or more seasons and 16 have played in at least 20 games so far (eight players are still in the league).
A number of those players made significant contributions for their teams:
Morris (first round) was one of the most prolific tacklers in the league during a four-year stretch of his career. He had nearly 500 tackles in eight seasons and won a Super Bowl ring.
Jolley (second round) played in 74 games in five years and caught 120 passes for 1,303 yards and six TDs, mostly for the Raiders. He caught five passes in the 2003 Super Bowl.
Defensive end Ryan Denney (second round) played nine years and 113 games, collecting 298 tackles and 23 sacks for the Bills.
Keisel (seventh round) was a late-round pick who wound up playing 13 years and 156 games for the Steelers. He played in two Super Bowls and one Pro Bowl and finished his career with 408 tackles.
Linebacker Colby Bockwoldt (seventh round) was another late draft pick who thrived briefly with the Saints. He led the team in tackles in 2005 during his four-year NFL career. He played in 49 games and made 24 starts.
Defensive end Brady Poppinga (fourth round) played eight seasons and 100 games, most of them for the Packers, and totaled 307 tackles.
Linebacker Bryan Kehl (fourth round) played six years and 72 games for four teams and made 122 tackles.
Collie (fourth round) played five years and 49 games and had 179 catches, 1,908 yards and 16 touchdowns in his brief, concussion-marred NFL career. He caught six passes for 66 yards from Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl and appeared headed for stardom. Despite his short stay in the league, he produced the most successful NFL career ever by a BYU wide receiver.
Pitta (fourth round) was another star in the making when injuries ended his career. In seven years he had 224 catches, 2,098 yards and 13 touchdowns. He caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl and won a ring.
Defensive end Ansah (first round) played eight years and 93 games, earning All-Pro honors and totaling 236 tackles and 50.5 sacks.
Van Noy (second round) has played nine strong years in a pro career that includes three Super Bowl appearances and two rings in two separate stints with the Patriots. So far he has 424 tackles and 28.5 sacks and is still playing at the top of his game at the age of 31. The Patriots cut him this offseason in a move to clear $5 million of cap space, but he should not have difficulty finding another team.
Running back Jamaal Williams (fourth round) is five years into a solid NFL career in which he has rushed for 2,586 yards and 13 touchdowns, mostly for the Packers.
Linebacker Warner (third round) might be the best linebacker in football. He has 504 tackles, three interceptions and six fumble recoveries. He has won rave reviews from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, among others, and was named first-team All-Pro in 2020.
Linebacker Sione Takitaki (third round) has made 132 tackles in three seasons for the Browns, playing in 45 games and starting 21 of them.
It’s still too early to evaluate the careers of some of the BYU draftees. Quarterback Zach Wilson (first round) passed for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 13 games while running for his life behind the leaky Jets’ offensive line. He was sacked a shocking 44 times.
A pair of seventh-round draft picks — defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga and wide receiver Dax Milne — both saw action as rookies last season. Tonga played in 15 games for the Bears. Milne, a former BYU walk-on, played in 13 games and caught nine passes for 83 yards. With the selection of Allgeier, the Cougars have had two former walk-ons taken in the last two drafts.
It’s more evidence that predicting football success is not an exact science.