Offseason performance to determine Van Noy's 2015 role

Posted Feb 25, 2015

It goes without saying that this is an important offseason for linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

Kyle Van Noy’s rookie season left a lot to be desired.

The Detroit Lions’ second-round pick suffered a core muscle injury in training camp and missed the first eight games of the season after undergoing surgery.

When he returned he had little impact. Maybe the injury was still affecting him. Maybe he was too far behind missing half of training camp and the first half of the season to make a real impact as a rookie.

Van Noy played in just 54 defensive snaps the final nine games of the season (including the playoffs) and finished with six total tackles.

Kyle Van NoyLB Kyle Van Noy (Photo: Gavin Smith / Detroit Lions)

It goes without saying that this is an important offseason for Van Noy, but Lions general manager Martin Mayhew just went ahead and said it when speaking to beat writers at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week.

“That’s totally up to him,” Mayhew said when asked about Van Noy’s future. “He can have a huge role if he has a great offseason and plays great. If he doesn’t have a great offseason, and doesn’t play great, then his role won’t be as big.”

Those are words Van Noy should take to heart, because when it comes to depth at the linebacker position, the Lions have plenty to spare.

DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and Tahir Whitehead are all under contract and returning starters. Add Josh Bynes into the mix, a player the Lions won’t tender a restricted offer to, but hope to sign back in 2015, and playing time can run thin for a young player with still a lot to prove.

The Lions selected Van Noy in the second round of last year's draft with the hope that his size, versatility and pass-rush skills could fit perfectly in the new SAM linebacker spot Teryl Austin was creating in his 4-3 scheme. It didn’t work out that way because of the injury.

“I think a lot of times with young players, not him specifically, but they come from a place where they’ve been great players and super stars and then they come into a new team and now they have to work their way up and play special teams and do things they didn’t do in college," Mayhew said. "Sometimes that’s an adjustment.”

Van Noy was a stud at BYU, recording 226 tackles (62 for loss), 26 sacks, seven interceptions and 17 forced fumbles.

The Lions are hoping to see more of that from him in year two.

“I think he can have a huge role,” Mayhew said of Van Noy in 2015. “But really, it’s totally up to him as to how he performs and how he is feeling and all those things.”

In other words, it’s a big offseason for Van Noy.