Versatility was the word thrown around early and often after the Lions moved up to select linebacker Kyle Van Noy in Friday's second round.
The Lions moved from the 45th pick to Seattle’s 40th, swapping the picks in the second round with the Lions also giving Seattle the 111th (fourth round) and 227th (seventh round) picks. The Lions got back the 146th pick (fifth round).
The Lions plan to play Van Noy as a SAM linebacker, using him to rush the passer, be a run-stopper and also someone who can drop back and cover.
“Really happy about getting Kyle into our system,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “I think 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.
“With those things you know you are going to get a three down player for us and we are very excited.”
For his career, Van Noy recorded 226 tackles, 62 for loss, 26 sacks, seven interceptions and 17 forced fumbles.
He wasn’t as disruptive as a senior, partly due to opponents game-planning to avoid him and also being without 2013 first-round pick Ziggy Ansah in front of him.
Van Noy reunites with Ansah, who was his roommate at BYU. Ansah even called Van Noy right after he was selected to congratulate him.
“It began with both of us laughing at each other,” Van Noy said of his conversation with Ansah. “He was calling me teammate, you know. He’s like a brother to me and it’s good to be on the same team and be able to go to work and chase Super Bowls together.”
It’s no secret the Lions plan to be more aggressive with their linebackers this year and needed a player like Van Noy who could do a lot of different things.
“When you look at being able to pressure from different parts of your defense and not wanting to be static, you have to have some backers that have the ability to rush,” Austin said. “I think that is what he does, he gives us that ability. He can drop in coverage, he can rush; when you put him on the field you can’t just say he is going to rush every time, that’s not going to be him and he gives us flexibility that way.”
Van Noy had 63 tackles, 17.5 for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and seven pass deflections as a senior last season. For his career, he had five defensive touchdowns.
What the Lions like in Van Noy is they aren’t tipping their hand when he’s in the game, and Austin thinks that’ll benefit the entire defense.
“What happens it when you have a guy that can do both, in terms of protection, you may be able to get them to turn protection to him and that frees up some of your other guys,” Austin said. “When you have a guy like that he is usually a mismatch for a running back or maybe even a tight end if they keep a tight end in.
“You can work it to your advantage that way. If they are worried about him then they turn the protection and now you have one guy blocking Ziggy and one guy on the backside blocking someone else. There is a lot of things that can happen but that’s really what that guy gives you.”