Today we are focusing on Kavika Fonua from BYU as a prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft. Fonua is a 6’0″ 205lbs, senior Safety. Fonua is a solid defender who has bounced from position to position over his time at BYU. He can play in the Slot, as a high Safety or in the box as a Strong Safety or Coverage Linebacker. He also played Running Back at BYU for a season. The film I watched to scout Fonua was @Navy (2020), vs. USC (2019), and @Tenn. (2019).
The first thing that sticks out to me when scouting Kavika Fonua is his versatility. He is able to play all over the defense and is a willing special teams player as well, which will go a long way for a raw prospect trying to make an NFL team. He runs well and has solid change of direction and agility, which when paired with his great read and react instincts and being aggressive make him a solid all-around defender. When it comes to playing the ball in the air, the film shows he is more than capable of deflecting a pass, but also, he is able to catch a ball to make the interception. He is a stout tackler who has good form and pop behind his initial contact. In coverage he understands what he needs to do depending where he is positioned. When playing high Safety, he does a good job of keeping everything in front of him and working back downhill. When at Linebacker or Nickle, he does a great job of transitioning Receivers through his zones. He also is physical in pass coverage as he will bump and run or bump a Receiver in an underneath crossing route to try and throw him off balance.
Fonua is raw as a prospect as he hasn’t really found his true position yet, which could scare away some teams as he has been at BYU since 2014. This could also be concerning as there are multiple NFL superstars that are this age, and thus the bags the question how high is his ceiling? Fonua is caught flat footed on film more than you would like to see, and paired with his tendency to read the QB for too long, could result in even bigger gains by professional offenses than what he is already giving up to NCAA teams. He also occasionally loses Receivers when he is in zone coverage, and this seems mostly due to him fixated on the QB, rather than keeping his head on a swivel and being aware of his surroundings and not just what is in front of him. He needs to work on his block shedding and his hand fighting as he often can get washed out of the hole and pushed aside when in pursuit. He also needs to work on keeping his head up when going into tackles as it could result in serious injury or getting hurdled.
Bottom line is that Fonua is an intriguing prospect alone for his versatility, willingness to play special teams and his solid tackling ability. I believe he has enough athletic ability to be able to defend NFL Tight Ends and Running Backs, but he may have trouble covering fast Slot Receivers at the next level. If he works on playing on the balls of his feet and trusting his initial instinct rather than playing flat footed and reading the QB for far too long, I think his game will make huge strides. I project him to transition into a Hybrid Safety-Linebacker at the next level, but in the NFL I only project him as a backup and special teamer, where as I strongly believe he would be a perfect fit as a CFL SAM Linebacker or Defensive Halfback. I have given him a grade of 4.9 which translates to a draft range of 6th round to UDFA.