PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – If James Empey didn’t suffer a season-ending ankle injury in October, he’d be a sure-fire NFL Draft pick.
But the former BYU offensive lineman has worked is way back, and showed on Pro Day that he is back to 100 percent.
“I felt really good about it,” Empey said about his performance last month. “I hit a bunch of my goals. After not being able to finish the season, it was great for me to be out here and be healthy. Lots of people helped me recover, and I was able to get back to 100 percent. I feel great.”
Empey started 41 games at center for BYU, but he says he can play anywhere on the offensive line in the NFL. Some draft projections have him going late in the later rounds, some projections have Empey not getting drafted at all. But all the former American Fork High star wants is a shot.
“Right now, none of that stuff really matters to me,” Empey said about the projections. “I’m going to work as hard as I can either way. So, whatever comes, I’ll be ready for it and I’m ready to go.”
Empey was a three-time Rimington Award Watch List, and made two Outland Trophy Watch Lists during his time at BYU. He was instrumental in protecting last year’s #2 overall pick in Zach Wilson, and helped open holes for record-setting running back Tyler Allgeier in 2021.
Last year, Brady Christensen was the first BYU offensive lineman drafted in 18 years when he was selected in the third round by the Carolina Panthers. Empey, who has kept in close contact with Christensen, hopes he’s part of a new pipeline of Cougar lineman going to the NFL.
“I was talking to my buddy Brady,” Empey said. “He was talking about how the NFL happens, and he said it’s so different at first. But then, you catch up to the speed and you catch up to how everybody plays. The style is a little different. I’m confident in the fact that I’m healthy, strong, ready to go. I have the tools in my toolbox to be a good NFL player, and I need to get to that next level.”
The NFL Draft is set for April 28-30 in Las Vegas, and will be televised on ABC4.