NFL Draft recap: 16 Pac-12 players go on Day 2
A combined 16 Pac-12 players were selected in the second and third rounds of the 2015 NFL draft Friday night in Chicago, bringing the cumulative total to 25 Pac-12 NFL draftees so far in 2015. The 25 selections is the most for any conference through the first 99 picks.
Took a bit for a Pac-12er to go Friday, but Hau’oli Kikaha broke the spell when the New Orleans Saints selected him in the second round at the No. 44 spot. Dubbed an “instant impact player” by ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay, Kikaha was a unanimous first-team All-American and set school records for career sacks and single-season sacks (19). He is the fourth Dawg to be selected, the most in the first two rounds in the common draft era for the Huskies. Some nice stats in this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 2, 2015
UCLA’s career leader in tackles was right behind Kikaha, as the Minnesota Vikings selected Eric Kendricks with the 45th pick. The 2014 Butkus Award and Lott Trophy winner amassed 481 stops in his Bruin career and led the nation in solo tackles last season. This is the second year in a row the Vikings have selected a UCLA linebacker after taking Anthony Barr ninth overall in 2014. But the UCLA love goes deeper than just linebackers for Minnesota:
Minnesota Vikings have drafted four UCLA Bruins in 3 years: Eric Kendricks in 2015, Anthony Barr in 2014, Jeff Baca and Jeff Locke in 2013.
— Jack Wang (@thejackwang) May 2, 2015
With Philadelphia on the clock at No. 47, odds were that Chip Kelly was probably gonna take another Pac-12 player because that’s just what he does. And indeed, the Eagles took Utah defensive back Eric Rowe, giving the Utes their first draft pick of 2015. The four-year starter in the SLC was tied for second in the conference with 14 passes defensed and is the first Ute to be taken in the second round since Koa Misi went 40th overall to the Dolphins in 2010. And oh yeah, he’s the ninth Pac-12 player taken by the Eagles (out of 17 picks) since Kelly took the reins in the City of Brotherly Love.
Eric Rowe tested in the 94th percentile by his position at the Combine, according to his SPARQ chart. Fantastic athlete. #Eagles
— Bryn Swartz (@eaglescentral) May 2, 2015
[Related: 39 Pac-12 players selected at 2015 NFL Draft]
It wasn’t much longer ‘til another Ute was taken off the board, as Cleveland selected defensive end Nate Orchard at 51st overall. The artist formerly known as Nate Fakahafua went to work this season, racking up 18.5 sacks in 2014 en route to the Ted Hendricks Award and Morris Award (that Stanford game, tho...). Not bad for a guy who was an all-state wide receiver in high school. Gotta love the emotion here:
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) May 2, 2015
Ickey Woods was certainly excited to announce Jake Fisher’s name as the 53rd overall pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Oregon left tackle’s presence was felt most when he wasn’t in the lineup in 2014, as Oregon suffered its only regular-season loss in 2014 when Fisher was injured. Fisher had Mariota’s blindside and now it’ll be up to him and first-rounder Cedric Ogbuehi out of Texas A&M to protect Andy Dalton.
— Oregon Football (@WinTheDay) May 2, 2015
Mock drafts, schmock drafts. Thought to be a seventh-round pick by multiple experts, former Stanford safety Jordan Richards was the last pick of the second round, going 64th overall to the New England Patriots. The Super Bowl champs get a safety who was one of the leaders of one of the best defenses in the nation last season. A football player, a gentleman AND a scholar, Richards was an Academic All-American on The Farm in addition to being a team captain.
— Stanford Football (@StanfordFball) May 2, 2015
‘Twas a much shorter wait for a Pac-12 fella to go in the third round, as Utah offensive lineman Jeremiah Poutasi went 66th to the Titans (second pick of the third round). A tackle in Salt Lake City, the ESPN crew of Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Trent Dilfer thinks Poutasi projects better as a guard at the next level. The last Ute to go in the third round was also an offensive lineman, as guard Tony Bergstrom was selected by the Raiders with the 95th pick.
The wait was finally over for Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong when the Houston Texans took him with the No. 70 pick. Many thought that Strong could go in the first round, so he is a steal early in the third round. Making headlines across the college football landscape with his Jael Mary to knock off USC, Strong caught 82 passes for 1,165 yards in his redshirt junior season in 2014 en route to All-American honors from Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and ESPN.com.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) May 2, 2015
Right after Strong was Hroniss Grasu, who went 71st to Chicago. The former Duck center was an instrumental piece of the Oregon offensive line for four years, making 50 straight starts to open his career before an ankle injury kept him from starting the Utah game in 2014. He was a three-time first-team all-Pac-12er. According to NFL.com, Grasu is the first center to be drafted out of Oregon since Fred Quillan went in the seventh round to the San Francisco 49ers in 1978. Count former Duck and current Bear Kyle Long in the "happy with the pick" column:
One of my best friends in this world is now my teammate.... Again.... So happy for him and us
— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) May 2, 2015
Owamagbe Odighizuwa was the second Bruin selected in 2015 when the New York Giants took the defensive end with the 74th pick. The 2014 UCLA co-captain was second-team All-Pac-12 and tied for the team lead with 11.5 tackles for loss. Odighizuwa was thought to have second-round talent (Mel Kiper Jr. had him as the No. 51 prospect in the draft), so good value here for the G-Men. Don't worry, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, "Owamagbe Odighizuwa" will roll off your fingertips in no time.
Much to the dismay of my keyboard and my editors, the Giants will select UCLA DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa in the third round.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) May 2, 2015
Time for a quick snack before Alex Carter went 80th overall to the Detroit Lions. Opting to leave The Farm after three years, Carter racked up 10 passes defended and 41 tackles en route to an All-Pac-12 honorable mention campaign in 2014. The last Stanford cornerback to be drafted? You might have heard of him – Richard Sherman. Carter's selection made it the sixth straight year that at least three Cardinal players have been drafted.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) May 2, 2015
It was all about quarterbacks to start the 2015 draft with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota going 1-2. Then we had to wait more than 70 picks for another QB to go when Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson was selected by the Saints at 75. The wait for the fourth quarterback to come off the board wasn’t nearly as long, as former Beaver signal caller Sean Mannion went two touchdowns (and two PATs) after Grayson at 89 to the St. Louis Rams. Mannion holds the Pac-12 record for career passing yards (13,600, or 7.7 miles). According to NFL.com, Mannion is the highest Beaver QB selected since Erik Wilhelm went 83rd overall in 1989.
Sean Mannion to the Rams at 89. pic.twitter.com/8ZN1aOka6T
— Gina Mizell (@ginamizell) May 2, 2015
Oh, just another Stanford guy going to Indianapolis – defensive end Henry Anderson was chosen 93rd overall by the Colts. The 2014 fifth-year senior piled up 65 tackles and 8.5 sacks in his swan song on The Farm, leading to his projection as a mid-round guy. Props to FOX Sports, who earlier in the week predicted that Anderson would go 93rd.
Oh, just another Stanford guy getting selected – wide receiver Ty Montgomery went 94th to Green Bay. Injuries slowed his senior-year production in 2014, but dude is built like a Greek god and has breakaway speed, as evidenced by his punt return prowess. According to NFL.com, Montgomery is the first Stanford receiver to go in the first three rounds since a guy named Ed McCaffrey was taken 83rd by the Giants in 1991 (and later made his name with the Broncos).
Big day for @StanfordFball: Ty Montgomery to Packers in 3rd round on 94th pick, one after Henry Anderson. 4th Cardinal taken on 2nd day.
— Tom FitzGerald (@tomgfitzgerald) May 2, 2015
Xavier Cooper brought the Cougars to the draft party when the Browns took the defensive tackle 96th overall. The Lott Trophy Watch List honoree made a team-high 9.5 tackles-for-loss. He is the first defensive tackle to be drafted out of Washington State since Rien Long went in the fourth round to Tennessee in 2003. Cooper and Danny Shelton will have to settle their Apple Cup differences and make nice now; looks like Shelton has already offered an olive branch:
— Danzel-The Blue Bow (@Danny_Shelton55) May 2, 2015
Rounding out the night for the Pac-12 was Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson, who went 98th overall to the Chiefs. Nelson is the second Pac-12 cornerback taken by Kansas City in 2015, following Marcus Peters’ selection at No. 18. The second-team All-Pac-12er managed to register two picks and eight pass break-ups despite opposing quarterbacks ignoring his side of the field much of the time.
— Beavers Football (@OSUBeaversFB) May 2, 2015