by Ryan Myers
Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - BYU, LB, Ben Bywater
Name - Ben Bywater
Pos - LB
Team - BYU
HT/WT - 6’3” 235 lbs.
Home - Salt Lake City, UT
Ben Bywater played his high school football at Olympus High School. In his senior season at Olympus, he totaled 95 tackles as a senior with 10.0 tackles for loss. He was region MVP in 2016 as he played both running back and linebacker. Out of high school, Bywater was listed as a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com and 247Sports, while receiving a 2-star rating from ESPN. He received offers from BYU, Utah State, and Air Force, and ultimately chose BYU as the next step in his football career.
In his first two seasons at BYU, Bywater played in 6 games, 3 in each year. Over these 6 games, he made 15 total tackles, and was able to redshirt both seasons due to limited playing time in 2019 and Covid in 2020.
In 2021, he started all 13 games for the Cougars, making 102 tackles, 8.5 TFL, and 1 sack. He was first on the team in both tackles and TFL in his first full season, which led to him being selected to the All-Independent First Team Defense by Pro Football Network. His success carried on to 2022 when he played in all 13 games, starting 7 of them for the Cougars. He recorded 98 tackles, 4 TFL and 1 sack, once again leading the team in tackles.
This season, Bywater played the first 4 games and tallied 32 tackles including 3 TFL and 1 sack. In the fourth game of the season, he injured his shoulder, requiring season-ending surgery for the star linebacker and forcing him to the sideline for the remainder of 2023. He was on pace to lead the team in tackles for a third season in a row with another 100-tackle season before the injury.
Bywater relies on his combination of quickness and power, along with his instincts. He has above average speed for the linebacker position and uses it to make plays from sideline to sideline. He plugs gaps on run plays as well as defending the pass by interrupting passing lanes. His ability to locate the football combined with his quickness make him one of the most efficient playmakers on the defensive side of the ball in college.
Bywater’s willingness to attack plays downhill along with his speed can sometimes lead to him becoming too aggressive. He overruns tackles in the backfield at times and has a habit of hitting ball carriers too high. This leads to too many missed tackles and yards after contact. These issues are avoidable and fixable which is why despite his streaky tackling issues, Bywater still is one of the top linebackers in the draft class.
Bywater shows great instinct and ball location skills, which are the reasons why he is such an efficient playmaker. He plays sideline to sideline and reads both the run and pass very well. These instincts combined with his combination of power and quickness are what NFL teams will value on draft day.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 6th round or 7th round