Since Bronco Mendenhall arrived at BYU, they have been transformed from a school that was known primarily for their offense into a place where defense has been a huge part of the Cougars success as a program. Even though the defense has carried the torch for BYU as of late, they have been producing NFL talent on that side of the ball for a long time. This is the list of the best of those defensive players based solely on what they have done in the NFL.
Obviously a list like this is completely subjective, but I try to leave out all bias when I do my rankings.
The things I factored in while doing these rankings include All-Pro selections, Pro Bowls, years as a starter, years in the league and impact on a team. Also, stats weighed heavily in my decision-making.
Even though this a list of the best 25 defensive players to play in the NFL from BYU there are a few guys who missed the cut that definitely deserve a mention.
Note: Current Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham came out of BYU and did make the NFL as a line backer, but played just three games as a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
Spencer Reid: after going undrafted, Reid made the Carolina Panthers roster in 1998. He played 28 games over three seasons for the Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts.
Brian Mitchell: Mitchell was selected in the seventh round (172nd overall) by the Atlanta Falcons. He appeared in 36 games over three seasons as a defensive back and recorded two sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery.
David Nixon: Nixon made the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He appeared in 15 contests with the Raiders, Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams over the course over three seasons.
Steve Kaufusi: Kaufusi was selected in the 12th round (319th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1988 draft. He appeared in 32 games over two seasons for the Eagles as a defensive lineman.
Vic So’oto: So’oto made the Green Bay Packers after going undrafted. He has appeared in 14 games out three seasons with the Packers, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals and has record one sack.
Byron Frisch: Frisch was select in the third round (93rd overall) by the Tennessee Titans in the 2000 draft. Frisch never played a game with the Titans but did play 23 games for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants over two seasons. In his career, Frisch recorded five quarterback sacks, two pass deflections and a forced fumble.
Shawn Knight: Knight was selected in the first round (11th overall) by the New Orleans Saints in the 1987 draft. Knight played 31 games over three seasons on the defensive line with the Saints, Denver Broncos and the Phoenix Cardinals.
Rodney Thomas: Thomas was selected in the fifth round (126th overall) by the Miami Dolphins in the 1988 draft. Thomas appeared in 46 games over four seasons with the Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams before finishing his career with the San Francisco 49ers as a defensive back. During his career, Thomas registered three interceptions and a sack.
Tim McTyer: McTyer made the Philadelphia Eagles In 1997 after going undrafted. He last four seasons in the league as a defensive back for the Eagles and the Cleveland Browns and Tallied half a sack and an interception in 28 games.