The 2023 NFL draft had barely wrapped up Saturday before another time-honored tradition among media members — looking forward into the future — was well underway.

One form of that comes in way-too-early NFL mock drafts for the next year, and in this case, it showed there could be a BYU player with first-round talent in the 2024 draft class.

BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia appeared in a trio of 2024 way-too-early NFL mock drafts that were published over the weekend, from 247 Sports, For The Win and Pro Football Focus.

Kingsley Suamataia could give Cougars back-to-back early-round NFL draft picks — next year

What 2024 way-too-early NFL mock drafts said about BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia

Of the three mock drafts, For the Win writer Christian D’Andrea has Suamataia coming off the board the highest, projecting him to go No. 12 overall to the New England Patriots.

“Bill Belichick traded back from No. 14 so the Steelers could select Broderick Jones. Taking Christian Gonzalez at No. 17 suggests offensive tackle will remain a low-key need through the next season — especially with Trent Brown a pending free agent next spring,” D’Andrea wrote

“Suamataia is a space-clearing beast whose drive and effort in the run game will make him a Belichick favorite early, though his pass blocking will need to improve for him to be a Day 1 pick.”

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247 Sports’ Allen Trieu also predicts Suamataia will be a top 20 pick, going to the Denver Broncos at No. 18 overall. If Suamataia ended up in Denver, he’d join former Utah and Westlake High offensive tackle Garett Bolles, who was the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2017.

“Fixing the offensive line is a priority for the Broncos in this year’s draft, but that project is likely to continue into next year when they take Kingsley Suamataia. The former Oregon Duck showed why he was so highly rated as a high school prospect after transferring to BYU,” Trieu wrote of the selection.

Pro Football Focus’ Max Chadwick has Suamataia projected lower but still sneaking into the end of the first round at No. 30 to the Buffalo Bills.

“A former five-star recruit in 2021, Suamataia transferred to BYU from Oregon this past season and flashed his elite tools at right tackle. He earned an impressive 80.9 pass-blocking grade in 2022,” Chadwick wrote.

Why things can change in way-too-early mock drafts

Suamataia’s first-round candidacy is hardly a slam dunk — he wasn’t mentioned in two other way-too-early mock drafts published by USA Today and The Draft Network.

Plus, as the title suggests, many of the results in these way-too-early mock drafts can end up being premature since so many variables can change from player to player with nearly a full year until the next draft occurs.

Last year, for example, four Utah ties were being projected as potential first-round draft picks in the immediate aftermath of the 2022 NFL draft.

They included Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III, BYU and Herriman High offensive tackle Blake Freeland, East High alum Siaki Ika (a defensive tackle at Baylor) and Orem High alum Noah Sewell (an inside linebacker at Oregon). 

All four players ended up being taken in the 2023 draft, just not in the first round.

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Ika was a late third-round selection by the Cleveland Browns, Freeland was an early fourth-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts, Phillips was taken later in the fourth round by the Atlanta Falcons and Sewell went in the fifth round to the Chicago Bears.

The one Utah tie who did end up being a first-round pick this year, meanwhile, was a player who wasn’t even being mentioned in way-too-early mock drafts at this time last year.

Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid ended up going No. 25 overall in this year’s NFL draft to the Buffalo Bills, after leading the Utes during the 2022 season in receptions (70), receiving yards (890) and receiving touchdowns (eight).

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One national media member, The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman, did have the foresight to see what Kincaid could become, listing him last May as an “other name to remember” at tight end for the 2023 NFL draft, behind Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, who went 12 picks after Kincaid and was a second-round draft selection.

BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia prepares to block during spring practice at the Indoor Practice Facility in Provo.
BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia prepares to pass block during spring practice at the indoor practice facility in Provo on March 10, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News

What are Kingsley Suamataia’s plans for the future?

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Suamataia will be a redshirt sophomore on BYU’s offensive line this year, and is taking over for Freeland at left tackle after starting 12 games at right tackle for the Cougars during the 2022 season and never allowed a sack.

He transferred to BYU after one season at Oregon and played his first season as a Cougar last year. He was a five-star recruit by 247 Sports and Rivals coming out of Orem High. 

Suamataia told the Deseret News’ Jay Drew last month that he may consider turning pro after the 2023 season.

“I definitely want to play in the NFL,” Suamataia said. “That is a no-brainer. So however this season goes (will be the determining factor), but I am really looking forward to it. It is not so much to follow other people’s footsteps, but taking my own path and seeing what best fits me and my family.”

If Suamataia ends up a first-round selection in next year’s draft, it would be a rare first-round selection for BYU over the past quarter-century but good timing, with the program joining the Big 12 Conference this summer.

Since the turn of the century, the Cougars have had three first-round draft picks. 

In 2021, quarterback Zach Wilson became the highest BYU player ever drafted when he went No. 2 overall to the New York Jets.

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In 2013, edge rusher Ezekiel Ansah went No. 5 overall to the Detroit Lions.

And in 2000, linebacker Rob Morris went No. 28 overall to the Indianapolis Colts.

If Suamataia ends up leaving BYU after the 2023 season and ends up getting drafted, he would be the third Cougar offensive tackle taken in the draft in a four-year span, joining Freeland and Brady Christensen, a third-round selection by the Carolina Panthers in 2021. 

“As much of a freak as Blake was at the NFL combine and everything, Kingsley is super athletic and in a lot of ways more (athletic) than Blake, in some instances. So we haven’t lost anything there,” BYU offensive line coach Darrell Funk told Drew.