Three former Pac-12 players go in NFL draft's first round

UCLA Athletics/Washington State Athletics/Oregon State Athletics

Three former Pac-12 football players went in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, good for fifth most of any conference behind the SEC’s 11, ACC’s five and four each by the American Athletic Conference and Big Ten. While it is a bit of a down first round by Pac-12 standards, there are plenty of talented West Coasters who should be selected Friday in the second or third rounds, including USC wide receiver Marqise Lee and UCLA offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo. Now, for those who did get drafted Thursday…

UCLA

Anthony Barr was the first Pac-12 dude off the board, as the Minnesota Vikings took the Bruin linebacker ninth overall. Barr might have gone higher than some thought he would, but the Vikings are getting a hard-hitting dude who racked up 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss in 2013. The Lott IMPACT Trophy winner is the 30th Bruin all-time selected in the first round of the NFL draft and this is the second straight year a Bruin has been one of the first 32 chosen, as Datone Jones was taken 26th overall by Green Bay in 2013. Seems like the Vikes got a thing for them Westwood boys:

 

Oregon State

A bit of a reprieve for the Conference of Champions, and then the New Orleans Saints selected the gregarious speedster Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State with the 20th overall pick. In a draft full of talent at his position, Cooks was the fourth wide receiver selected, behind Clemson’s Sammy Watkins (Buffalo), Texas A&M’s Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) and LSU’s Odell Beckham (New York Giants). There’s no doubt about what the Saints are getting— great hands (try 128 single-season receptions on for size) and breakneck speed (did you see the NFL scouting combine?). It should be an absolute treat watching the 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner catch passes from Drew Brees, and it doesn’t sound like I’m the only one excited for that connection:

 

Cooks is the first Beav taken in the first round since Steven Jackson went to the Rams 10 years ago and is the highest-selected Beaver since Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker went first overall in 1963 (thanks OSUBeavers.com release!).

Washington State

Last, but certainly not least, the Arizona Cardinals tabbed Washington State safety Deone Bucannon with the 27th pick. While he’s known for his equilibrium-shattering blasts, Deone Bucannon is more than just a highlight hitter; he also led the Pac-12 in tackles (114) and was tied for the Pac-12 lead in interceptions with six (kudos to Rob Rang of CBS Sports for correctly estimating that he and three other safeties would go in the first round). A lil’ message from his former coach:

 

As the Cougars point out, Bucannon is the first Coug drafted in the first round since Marcus Trufant went 11th overall to the Seahawks in 2003.

Congratulations to Barr, Cooks and Bucannon for their first-round draft selections, and we should see plenty of other Pac-12ers get their names called in the coming days. The NFL draft continues Friday with the second and third rounds and finishes Saturday with rounds four through seven.

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