Monday, April 28, 2008

SF Chronicle: Six Cal players get chosen; Stanford gets ignored

The results of the 2008 NFL draft make it hard to believe Cal finished ahead of only one team in the 2007 Pac-10 standings.  The Bears had six players picked in the seven-round draft, the most Cal draftees since the draft was reduced from 12 rounds to eight in 1993.  What's more, it was the greatest number of draft picks from Cal since six players were selected in 1977; the Bears have not had more than six since 1952, when 10 players were drafted, including seven taken between rounds 11 and 29.

Only three colleges - USC with 10, Virginia Tech with eight and LSU with seven - had more players drafted this year, and all three finished ranked in the top 10. The Bears were 3-6 in the Pac-10 and 7-6 overall.  As prominent as Cal was in the draft, Stanford was a no-show, having no players drafted for only the second time since 1962. Among players from Bay Area high schools, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon (San Leandro High) and San Diego quarterback Josh Johnson (Oakland Tech) were both taken in the fifth round Sunday, Dixon by Pittsburgh and Johnson by Tampa Bay.

Two other quarterbacks with East Bay roots - Nebraska's Sam Keller, who attended San Ramon Valley High, and Miami's Kyle Wright, who was rated the nation's No. 1 recruit by several recruiting services during his senior season at Danville's Monte Vista High - were not drafted They all took a backseat to Cal, which had five players selected on the second day of the draft.

The first Cal player taken Sunday - and the first since DeSean Jackson was chosen in the second round Saturday - was tight end Craig Stevens.  The big numbers posted by Cal wide receivers Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan overshadowed Stevens, who had 17 receptions as a senior. But he was consistent and has no glaring weakness, which, combined with a good showing in the NFL combine, helped him become a third-round pick of the Tennessee Titans.

Stevens initially thought he was headed to Baltimore. Tennessee was on the clock and the Ravens were on deck when Stevens got a call. "Baltimore was on the phone, and they told me they were going to draft me," Stevens said. "Then I hear my call-waiting, and it was Tennessee. One minute I thought I was going to Baltimore and the next I'm going to Tennessee." The Titans acquired four-time Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler in the offseason. Stevens later found out Hawkins will be his teammate as the Titans took Hawkins in the fourth round. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper called Hawkins the best pick of the second day. Before Hawkins was selected, the Atlanta Falcons took Cal safety Thomas DeCoud in the third round. DeCoud could compete for a starting spot as a rookie because the Falcons' No. 1 strong safety is 34-year-old Lawyer Milloy. "I heard he's a really good safety," DeCoud said, "and it would be great to be an understudy to him and learn from him. I would like to contribute right away, but we'll see how the cookie crumbles."

Cal running back Justin Forsett was drafted by Seattle, but not until the seventh round, later than expected. Guard Michael Gibson was taken earlier than projected, going in the sixth round to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Read the rest of the article here.

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