The Stanford football program has been extremely successful in producing NFL talent, which includes three Hall of Famers, two Super Bowl MVPs, "the best corner in the league," 11 First- Team All Pro players and 23 Pro Bowlers with a combined 68 appearances to date. This is part two of that series.
15. Chris Burford
Ninth-round pick in 1960 NFL Draft
6'3", 220-pound wide receiver
NFL/AFL playing career: Dallas Texans (1960-1962), Kansas City Chiefs (1963-1967)
The lone Stanford graduate to play in Super Bowl I, Burford was one of the most consistent wideouts in the 1960s - he ranked in the top-10 in the AFL in receptions seven times, receiving yards six times and receiving touchdowns six times.
After leading the NCAA in receptions in 1959, the Texans selected Burford in the ninth round. He rewarded the Texans, who would eventually move to Kansas City and become the Chiefs, by earning Pro Bowl honors in 1961 and being named to the AFL All-Pro First Team in 1962. Known as an exceptional route runner, he led the team in receptions in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965 on his way to becoming the Chiefs all-time leader in receptions at the time of his retirement.
His 55 career receiving touchdowns currently put him at 92nd all-time in NFL and AFL history while his 12-touchdown season in 1962 led the league and still ranks as the 93rd-best in that category in NFL and AFL history. In 1975, the Chiefs inducted him into their Hall of Fame.
14. Andrew Luck
First-round pick in 2012 NFL Draft
6'3", 235-pound quarterback
NFL playing career: Indianapolis Colts (2012-present)
The first of two current NFL players on this list, Luck has all the tools to be at or near the very top of this list by the time his career is done. It speaks to the immediate impact that Luck has had that he can place on this list after only three seasons in the NFL, and what an incredible three seasons it has been for the Maxwell award winner, Walter Camp award winner and two-time Heisman trophy runner-up while at Stanford.
Luck took over the reign of a 2-14 Colts team and subsequently led them to three straight playoff appearances and two division titles. Along the way, he became the only Stanford player to earn Pro Bowl appearances in each of his first three seasons, set an NFL record with 4,183 passing yards as a rookie, threw for the most passing yards of any quarterback in his first three seasons, broke the Colts record for most passing yards in a season and led the league in touchdown passes in 2014, to name a few of his countless achievements. And of course, he did all this in the shadow of maybe the greatest quarterback of all-time in Peyton Manning, who had just departed from the Colts and signed with the Broncos.
With a mediocre supporting cast, Luck's Colts have improved each year in the playoffs, reaching the AFC Championship game in 2015.
The only factor preventing Luck from sitting higher on this list is his young three-year career. Five or 10 years from now, he will almost assuredly be in the top-five.
13. Ed McCaffrey
Third-round pick in 1991 NFL Draft
6'5", 215-pound wide receiver
NFL playing career: New York Giants (1991-1993), San Francisco 49ers (1994), Denver Broncos (1995-2003)
Part of an extremely talented group of wide receiver alumnus, McCaffrey only made four starts in his first four years but found a home on the Broncos in 1995. He became a full-time starter in 1996 and exploded in 1998 as he helped the team win the second of back-to-back Super Bowls.
Despite topping out at 610 receiving yards in a year in his first seven seasons, McCaffrey posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons beginning in 1998, including a 101-reception, 1,317-yard season in 2000. He made his only Pro Bowl appearance in 1998, when he also made the All-Pro Second Team. In 2001, he suffered a broken leg that limited him to one game that season and ultimately started a nagging series of injuries that would force him to retire in 2004.
McCaffrey's three Super Bowl titles rank first among all Cardinal alumni and his 565 career receptions put him at 83rd all-time in NFL history. He was named to the Denver Broncos 50th anniversary team in 2009.
McCaffrey's son, Christian, is a sophomore running back at Stanford.
12. Jeff Siemon
First-round pick in 1972 NFL Draft
6'2", 235-pound middle linebacker
NFL playing career: Minnesota Vikings (1972-1982)
After a highly successful collegiate career that saw Siemon take home the Dick Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and lead the Cardinal to two Rose Bowl victories, Simeon quickly became a key contributor and a leader at the NFL level.
Siemon started right away for the Vikings and was a crucial piece for a team that made four NFC Championship games and three Super Bowls in a five-year span from 1973 to 1977. In that same time frame, Siemon made four Pro Bowls - the only member of the Viking defense to reach four Pro Bowls during that time - and started all but one game for the team, serving as the reliable cog in the heart of the Vikings defense.
From 1972 to 1976, the Vikings defense never finished worse than third in the NFL in scoring defense. After losing to the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game following the 1977 season though, the Vikings struggled to maintain their stellar defense, never finishing better than 11th in the league for the rest of Siemon's career.
11. Richard Sherman
Fifth-round pick in 2011 NFL Draft
6'3", 195-pound cornerback
NFL playing career: Seattle Seahawks (2011-present)
There isn't much to say about Sherman other than what he's already said about himself: three-time All-Pro First Team, two-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion and arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, all after just four seasons.
Despite his draft standing, Sherman started almost immediately and snagged 24 interceptions over his four years, the most in the NFL over that span. His sudden rise keyed the emergence of the historically dominant Seahawks defense, which powered the team to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. His three appearances on the All-Pro First Team are already tied for the second-most by any Stanford player ever and at just 27 years old, he's likely far from done racking up the accolades.
His propensity to talk, and talk loudly, on and off the field has drawn him nearly as much attention as his play, but his play truly speaks for itself and makes him easily one of the most valuable defensive players currently playing in the NFL. According to pro-football-reference.com, Sherman was the league's third most valuable player (offensive or defensive) in 2012 and second most valuable player in 2013. His ability to cover the best receivers one-on-one allows the rest of the vaunted Seahawks defense to operate the way it does.
Though he has only four years in the NFL to his name, Sherman's four-year run might arguably be the best four-year run of any Stanford NFL player, and at the very least ranks as one of the best stretches, behind only some of the top-five players on this list.
Sherman probably won't rank above Andrew Luck when it's all said and done, despite perhaps a better start to his career, but he will absolutely slide higher on this list and potentially even into the top-five.