Did Stanford and Cal fare well in this year's NFL Draft? It depends on how you look at it.
The Cardinal had six players taken in this year's seven-round draft, tying the most Stanford players taken in a single draft since 1936. The first NFL Draft was held in 1936, and seven Cardinal players were selected that year. Eight times since then, the Cardinal has had six players drafted, the most recent being 2005.
Only four colleges had more players drafted than Stanford this year, and those four represent some high-powered football programs. LSU had the most players drafted, with nine, while Alabama and Notre Dame each had eight players drafted and Florida State had seven. Stanford tied Ohio State for fifth place with six apiece.
However, no Stanford player was taken in the first round, and outside linebacker Trent Murphy, a second-round pick of the Washington Redskins, was the only Cardinal taken in the first three rounds. The other five were: offensive tackle Cameron Fleming (fourth round, New England Patriots), offensive guard David Yankey (fifth round, Minnesota Viking). safety Ed Reynolds (fifth round, Philadelphia Eagles), running back Tyler Gaffney (sixth round, Philadelphia Eagles), defensive end Ben Gardner (seventh round, Dallas Cowboys).
Gaffney owns the distinction of being drafted by both professional baseball and pro football. He was taken in the 24th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent time in the minors before returning to Stanford for the 2013 season.
The biggest surprise was that inside linebacker Shayne Skov was not drafted. Whether it was the serious knee injury he suffered in 2011 or the fact that his athleticism does not measure up to NFL standards, Skov's production on the college level did not impress pro teams enough to warrant a drat pick. He signed as a free agent with the 49ers, who, of course, are coached by Jim Harbaugh, the person who recruited Skov to Stanford.
Cal had a similar surprise. Defensive lineman Deandre Coleman was expected to be taken midway through the drat. NFL.com projected he would be taken in the second or third round. But Coleman was not drafted at all. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bears had only two players drafted, the fewest since 2004. Cal has not had fewer than two players drafted since 1990, when it had just one. Given the Bears' 1-11 record (0-9 in the Pac-12), it's not surprising that so few Cal players were taken. There is a high correlation between the number of players drafted from a given school and that school's success on the field the previous fall. The only noticeable exception was Michigan State, which had only one player drafted this year after finishing the 2013 season 13-1 and ranked No. 3.
The two Cal players drafted were an intriguing duo, because both had enigmatic college careers.
Richard Rodgers was sort of a tight end and sort of a wide receiver for Cal, and he even lined up in the backfield and ran the ball a few times. Jeff Tedford had said Rodgers looked like a pro prospect when Tedford was still Cal's head coach, and apparently, NFL teams think so too, because he was taken in the third round by the Green Bay Packers as a tight end. Rodgers started only five games in 2013, but was third on the team in receptions with 39. The fact that he averaged 15.6 yards per reception probably appealed more to NFL teams. He has outstanding athleticism for a tight end, and that is a prerequisite for NFL tight ends these days.
The other Cal player drafted was linebacker Khairi Fortt, who started only nine games in 2013 and was in danger of losing his starting position early in the season. Fortt, who transferred to Cal from Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, missed the final two games last season with a biceps injury. Nonetheless, he was taken in the fourth round by the New Orleans Saints.