- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Kyle Van Noy bounced a little bit of everywhere in college. Dropped back in coverage. Rushed the passer. Forced turnovers and made plays over and over and over again.
In the NFL, it would be logical to think his role might sharpen, especially as the second- round pick of the Detroit Lions learns his role as a Sam linebacker. Apparently not.
Van Noy expects he’ll be used in a variety of ways, from a rushing linebacker to dropping into coverage to even playing some defensive end in some cases depending on the lineup and the down-distance situation.
Things like that have already happened a week into his time as a pro.
“A little bit of everything,” Van Noy said. “Do it all-kinda backer, to be able to rush, to be in coverage and stuff like that, a variety of things that Coach is going to put me in different places, and I’m excited about it.”
Being a stand-up rusher from the end spot has been among those things, but even that isn’t completely different for him. He said he did some standing up at the end at BYU. While this could be a lot for a rookie to pick up, Van Noy seems to be comfortable with all of this for now.
Time management has been among the bigger issues he has had so far – not surprising considering in the past week players have been drafted, flown to their new city and immediately tossed into workouts and the professional environment.
For any player starting out, that would take some getting used to.
“What he does is give us a big backer who can play on the ball, he can play off the ball and he can rush the passer,” Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said after the team drafted Van Noy. “With those three things, you know you are going to get a three-down player for us.”
Part of Van Noy’s versatility comes from his background. He played basketball, baseball and ran track in high school. When he played football, he was both a linebacker and a receiver, where he caught 35 passes for 731 yards and 18 touchdowns at McQueen High in Reno, Nevada.
That could help explain his hands – he intercepted seven passes in his college career – and why he was good enough in coverage that he broke up 17 passes in that time.
“That’s something I downplay a lot because I haven’t played for a while, but it’s helped me on my ball skills tremendously, I think,” Van Noy said. “To be able to know route combinations and to slow down because you have to watch everything develop helps out a ton.”
It helped in college. How it helps in the NFL – and how versatile he will actually be – is what the Lions have to discover next.
11hDana Wakiji / Special to ESPN.com