BYU OT Christensen comfortable in underdog role

Apr. 21—Growing up in Bountiful, Utah, Brady Christensen was a three-sport athlete who played center field for his high school baseball team.

That’s not a fact typically found on a prospective left tackle’s resume, but the consensus All-American from BYU isn’t a typical left tackle prospect.

“I’ve known for a long time that I’m an athletic guy,” Christensen told reporters after his pro day last month. “I’m not just a big, fat guy — as some people may think (offensive linemen) are. I knew I had that in me, so I was just so excited, so anxious to get out here and just show what I could do and show that I’m an athletic guy and can move really at an elite level and I have elite feet and elite hands, and I just really wanted to show that off today.”

Mission accomplished.

The headline of the Cougars’ pro day on March 26 was a pass from quarterback Zach Johnson that became a social media sensation. But Christensen might actually have been the most impressive player on the field that day.

His 10-foot-4 broad jump is a record for an offensive lineman. Ever.

No greater distance has been measured anywhere in the country at the NFL Scouting Combine or an on-campus pro day.

By three inches.

It was a mark Christensen knew he could reach and one that should put an end to the bizarre narrative about a lack of athleticism. Christensen also ran a 4.9-second 40-yard dash, posted a vertical leap of 34 inches and compiled a relative athletic score — a metric that judges a player’s athleticism on a scale of 1-to-10 according to his size and position — of 9.84.

“I think at the next level, it’s incredibly important,” Christensen said. “You can’t only be a big guy, but you gotta be athletic as well. You’re blocking some of the most athletic guys on the field, so you gotta match that athleticism.”

There are legitimate concerns about Christensen.

He’ll be a 24-year-old rookie after spending two years on a Latter Day Saints mission in New Zealand. He didn’t play the consistent level of competition a player in a Power 5 conference competes against. And his 32 1/4 -inch arms are not ideal, suggesting some long-limbed pass rushers could get him off balance and clear an easier path to the quarterback.

But Christensen has erased doubts before. He was a two-star recruit and was on his mission when Bronco Mendenhall left to coach Virginia and took many of the coaches who recruited him away to Charlottesville. New head coach Kelani Sitake honored BYU’s commitment, and Christensen repaid him with 38 consecutive starts at left tackle — capping his career as the program’s first consensus All-American in 12 years.

None of which changed his underdog mentality. Christensen weighs in at 6-foot-5 and 302 pounds and has spent much of his offseason trying to add bulk.

“My goal is 305,” he said. “No excuses. I still want to gain more weight. I feel really good at this weight. I’m gonna keep working on gaining weight so I can play at a higher weight, definitely is my goal. It’s not easy to gain weight, but I’m just eating healthy, eating a lot and keep going from there.”

Draft projections suggest he could be selected as early as the second round, but he’s more commonly viewed as a Day 3 pick.

Christensen has been working out with former BYU offensive tackle John Tait — a first-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1999 — and dreaming of the possibilities at the next level.

He knows the work he put on the field for the Cougars matters most, but he’s hopeful that pro day performance left a memorable impression.

“Obviously, the film is your product,” he said. “That’s the most important. That’s what you put out. That’s what teams are looking at. But I think pro day can definitely make teams re-evaluate, maybe rethink or go back and watch film again and see some — maybe something they missed.”

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