Over the past four years, Stanford has produced six first and second-round draft picks, 14 picks overall, and many more undrafted players who have caught on with NFL rosters. On top of that, many have outperformed their perceived draft value - even including the first round picks. However, this year, there seems to be an unusually low amount of interest in the Cardinal players. Let's take a look at some of the NFL hopefuls and match them up with a few teams they might end up with.
Fleming was a three-year starter for Stanford at right tackle, earning 2nd team All-Pac-12 honors his senior year. He is perceived as an intelligent, strong and powerful tackle. However, there are some questions about his footwork, technique and flexibility. While he didn't put up amazing numbers at the NFL Combine, Fleming has seemingly been the only Stanford prospect who has improved or even maintained his draft value over the past few months. With quite a few teams looking to acquire depth on the offensive line through the draft, Fleming could see himself being selected on day two of the draft. He is currently projected to be picked in the 2nd or 3rd Round.
Possible fits for Fleming: Seahawks (64th Overall Pick), Texans (65), Jaguars (70), Rams (75)
David Yankey is one of the most talented offensive linemen Stanford has produced in the past few years. He is extremely talented at pulling and laying massive run blocks and is widely considered one of the top 3 guards in this year's draft. His numerous honors include being a unanimous All-American, team captain, and 2012 Morris Award winner for the best offensive lineman in the Pac-12. While all of this should add up to a first or second round selection in the draft, Yankey is currently projected to be drafted anywhere between the 2nd and 4th Rounds. The reason for this is that many teams feel that Yankey is a bit slow and lacks explosiveness.
Possible fits for Yankey: Buccaneers (69th Overall Pick), Browns (71), Giants (74)
After a phenomenal junior campaign highlighted by six interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, Reynolds now finds himself the target of much criticism due to the fact that he only pulled down one interception in 2013. However, after a year of throwing picks to him, Pac-12 quarterbacks knew he was a ball hawk and threw away from him all season. Reynolds did become much more involved in the run defense in 2013, finishing the year with 86 tackles, as compared to his 47 tackles in 2012. On top of placing among the top safeties in almost every drill at the Combine, Reynolds was able to improve his vertical leap to 38 inches at Stanford's Pro Day, which would have been tied for best among safeties at the Combine. He also improved his 40 time to 4.49, which answered some critics' concerns about his speed. Reynolds is currently projected to be selected in the 4th Round.
Possible fits for Reynolds: Falcons (103th pick), Jets (104), Dolphins (116)
In my opinion, Shayne Skov is the most underrated Stanford player to enter the draft this year. He is strong (his 28 bench press reps at Pro Day would have ranked 3rd for linebackers at the Combine), explosive, passionate and has an innate feel for the game that sets him apart. Unfortunately, Skov has some lingering hamstring problems which held him out of drills at the Combine as well as some drills at Pro Day. Some scouts feel that his durability and explosiveness since his devastating ACL injury two years ago are significant concerns. However, I am confident that Skov will be able to return to his pre-injury form and become a valuable linebacker in the NFL. He is currently projected to be selected between the 3rd and 5th Rounds.
Possible fits for Skov: Broncos (95th pick), Vikings (96), Packers (98), Redskins (102)
Trent Murphy has been one of the most productive defenders in college football over the past few years. He led the country in sacks with 15 in 2013-14 and was a consensus All-American. However, this impressive production has not necessarily impressed NFL scouts this spring. Many believe that Murphy is not explosive or quick enough to adjust to the NFL speed. They also have trouble deciding what position Murphy would play in the NFL. It is believed that he is too slow to be a 3-4 outside linebacker, and not as effective as a 4-3 defensive end. Regardless, Murphy is currently projected to be selected in the 2nd or 3rd Round.
Possible fits for Murphy: Raiders (67), Chargers (89), Colts (90)
It has been a long road to the NFL for Tyler Gaffney. After returning to college football following a stint in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, Gaffney had an extremely impressive year in 2013-14. He finished with 1,709 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns, good enough to rank 8th and 5th in the nation, respectively. Coming into the Combine, many analysts considered him a power back with sub-par speed. However, Gaffney emphatically proved them wrong, placing first among running backs in the 60-yard shuttle, 2nd in the 3-cone drill, and running a 4.49 40 yard dash. While he is projected to be drafted in the 5th or 6th Round, Gaffney could likely go to any team that is looking to find depth at the running back position.
Possible fits for Gaffney: Cowboys, Texans, Titans, Saints, Browns