Cougars in the pros: 2022 NFL season proves historic for BYU alumni

As the 2022 NFL regular season comes to a close, one could argue there has never been a more successful campaign for BYU alumni in the league.

Such an argument would be correct.

Over the past 18 weeks, former Cougars have broken records, made clutch plays, generated national headlines, provided hundreds of highlights and viral moments, carried fantasy teams, carried actual teams, entered awards conversation and made it clear that BYU is a legitimate factory for professional talent.

Here’s a look back at some of the notable stats and stories across the league for BYU alumni this season:

Tyler Allgeier — Atlanta Falcons

Just a year removed from breaking BYU’s all-time single season rushing record, Allgeier rewrote history yet again as a rookie in becoming the first former Cougar to rush for 1,000 yards in an NFL season. The fifth round draft selection led the Falcons with 1,035 yards and tallied four total touchdowns, most impressively logging 210 carries without ever fumbling. Not only did Allgeier surpass Atlanta’s franchise rookie rushing mark, but the former BYU walk-on gradually emerged as the face of the Falcons, making a respectable case for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Jamaal Williams — Detroit Lions

Williams enjoyed one of the league’s most remarkable breakout campaigns in 2022, setting career-highs with 262 carries and 1,066 yards while leading the league with 17 rushing touchdowns, a total that surpassed hall of famer Barry Sanders for the most in a season in Detroit franchise history. Williams broke the Lions record in a two-touchdown effort Sunday night in Green Bay, leading the charge for an upset victory to eliminate his former team from the playoffs.

Oh, and Williams’ love for anime reached a national audience.

Fred Warner — San Francisco 49ers

Warner continued his reign as one of the NFL’s most dominant linebackers in recording 130 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and interception as the crown jewel of San Francisco’s league-best defense. The All-Pro talent finished ninth on the NFC leaderboard in tackles and posted an elite 83.7 Pro Football Focus grade, quickly stacking a potential all of fame-caliber resume which could include a Super Bowl ring next month.

Taysom Hill — New Orleans Saints

What can’t Taysom Hill do? The super-utility Saint ran 96 times for 575 yards and seven touchdowns, caught nine balls for 77 yards and two scores, went 13-19 in passing for 240 yards with two touchdowns and did it all while listed as a tight end. Clearly they have a sense of humor down in New Orleans. The six-year veteran posted a career-high 652 scrimmage yards and led the Saints with nine rushing/receiving scores, three of which came in a 112-yard outburst against Seattle in week five.

Kyle Van Noy — Los Angeles Chargers

The two-time Super Bowl champ made 46 total tackles and two fumble recoveries in his first season as a Charger, finishing the year on a tear with sacks in five consecutive games for the red-hot, playoff bound Los Angeles defense. Van Noy’s 33.5 career sacks are the second-most all-time among former Cougars.

Michael Davis — Los Angeles Chargers

Davis started 12 games at cornerback for the Chargers, posting 62 tackles, 15 pass deflections and a 73.7 Pro Football Focus grade in 2022. The former undrafted free agent also recorded his first career sack and picked off Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles in week 16 against the Colts.

Dax Milne — Washington Commanders

Milne served as Washington’s primary return specialist in his second professional season, recording an NFL-best 40 punt returns for a 7.8 yard average, calling for 22 fair catches and returning 15 kickoffs as well. Milne also caught six passes as a slot receiver for the Commanders, scoring his first career touchdown in week nine against Minnesota.

Khyiris Tonga — Minnesota Vikings

Landing with the Vikings in October after being waived by Chicago prior to the regular season, Tonga finished 2022 ranked as the 13th-ranked defensive tackle in the league with a 77.9 Pro Football Focus grade. Tonga made 28 total tackles in Minnesota along with four pass deflections and a sack, emerging as a leader on defense for the NFC north champion Vikings.

Daniel Sorensen — New Orleans Saints

Sorensen appeared in all 17 games of his first season in New Orleans, making 25 total tackles as a defensive back and special teamer. The nine-year veteran reinforced his reputation as a ball hawk with a pair of interceptions on the campaign, returning his first pick for 36 yards against Cleveland in week 16.

Zach Wilson — New York Jets

Simply put, Wilson endured one of the most turbulent campaigns imaginable for his sophomore effort in New York. The former No. 2 overall pick returned from injury in October to win five of his first six starts at quarterback, only for an ugly 10-3 loss to the Patriots in week 11 to seemingly derail everything.

Wilson’s on-field performance against New England — along with his subsequent postgame comments — sparked outrage among fans and media members, prompting Jets leadership to bench the young quarterback, only to reinsert Wilson as the starter after New York had fallen out of the playoff picture during his bench stint. Wilson finished the season with a 5-4 starting record, six touchdowns, seven interceptions, 1,688 passing yards and a 72.8 rating, with his NFL future currently questionable.

Sione Takitaki — Cleveland Browns

Despite battling various injuries, Takitaki finished third on the Browns with a career-high 71 total tackles over 12 games at linebacker. The fourth-year veteran enjoyed his finest performance in week eight, racking up 13 tackles, a sack and forced fumble against the defending AFC champion Bengals.

Brady Christensen — Carolina Panthers

Following an inconsistent debut in 2021, Christensen silenced doubters by starting all 17 games at both guard and tackle positions on the offensive line for the Panthers, playing 100% of Carolina’s snaps between weeks 1-17 before a fractured ankle ended his season in Sunday’s finale against the Saints. The former third round pick allowed just two sacks in 2022 and posted a stellar 89.9 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus between weeks 12-17.

Harvey Langi — Las Vegas Raiders

Langi appeared in five games between New England and Denver entirely on special teams before being waived by each team, only for the Las Vegas Raiders to claim the journeyman and start him at linebacker for the final two weeks of the season. In his Las Vegas debut — just four days after joining the team — Langi led the Raiders with nine tackles and a quarterback hit in a week 17 thriller against Warner’s 49ers.

Andy Reid — Kansas City Chiefs

The former BYU offensive lineman and graduate assistant continued his hall of fame coaching career in piloting Kansas City to a 14-3 record and the AFC’s one seed, leading the NFL in total yards (7,220) and scoring (29.2 PPG) along the way.

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