The 2016 NFL Draft is soon to arrive, and there are several Stanford Cardinal primed to make an entrance into the NFL this year.
The Cardinal are coming off one of its most successful season's in the history of the program as they finished the year ranked #3 in the country after their triumphant run through the PAC-12 season and Rose Bowl victory.
The great success in 2015-16 means that the Stanford Cardinal will graduate several top athletes to the next level of competition at the NFL Draft.
Here is a brief rundown of where you can expect the Cardinal to land in the draft this weekend:
Joshua Garnett, Guard: The 2015 Outland Trophy winner is primed to make one of the first splashes in the NFL Draft. Garnett has been described as an intellectual "mauler" that may be a day 1 starter in the NFL. Many are feeling that Garnett has the ability to become one of the top interior linemen in the NFL for years to come. His position is generally not a Day 1 need, but do not be shocked if the Human Biology major is chosen early on Day 2.
Projection - Early 2nd Round
Austin Hooper, Tight End: The Tight End position in the NFL has drastically changed over the past few years. Tight End's are increasingly becoming one of the most utilized options in any pass attack, and Hooper has the size and ability that teams are looking for to add to their arsenal. Hooper has solid hands, and good speed that will be difficult for Linebackers and Safeties to cover at the next level. Hooper is in a great position to be drafted early this year, as there is a limited supply of solid Tight Ends available. Look for Hooper to not last longer than day 2 in the draft.
Projection - 2nd Round
Kyle Murphy, Tackle: Murphy is the other half of the dominant "Smash Brothers" combination that opened the holes for standout RB Christian McCaffrey last season. Murphy worked diligently the last few seasons and developed into a solid tackle that will be in demand at the next level. Murphy has been characterized as not being "athletically gifted", but if you see highlight tapes from the last season, you will see that whatever he may lack in athleticism - he makes up for it with his speed and tenacity. Murphy more than likely will not be a Left Tackle or "Blind Side" Tackle at the next level, but will surely be worth a look in the early rounds.
Projection - Late 3rd Round
Blake Martinez, Linebacker: The "Tackling Machine" is ready to pounce on the competition at the next level. Martinez has been characterized as an "instinctual player, with a non-stop motor". The Tucson, AZ native took up the mantle left over from prior Stanford standout Shayne Skov as the leader of the Cardinal defense and helped lead the team to great success in 2015. The only knock on Martinez is that he sometimes is over-eager to make the play in is allows for bigger yardage as in the UCLA game this past season. Martinez is highly intelligent, and will be a coach's dream at the next level. He may need a little seasoning, and special team's is where he may need to make his mark in the beginning.
Projection - Round 4
Devon Cajuste, Wide Receiver: Cajuste is an interesting scenario: will he be drafted to be a Tight End, or kept as a receiver? The Senior WR from New York does not possess lighting speed, but has great size and has the ability to make the big catch at a moment's notice. Many scouts in the NFL believe that if Cajuste puts on some additional muscle, and works on his blocking, that he could become a solid Tight End or H-Back at the next level. Look for Cajuste to be Mid - Day 3 selection.
Projection - Late Round 4
Kevin Hogan, Quarterback: One word to describe QB Kevin Hogan: winner. In the words of Hip Hop Star DJ Khaled, all Hogan does is "win, win, win". Hogan led Stanford to 3 Pac-12 titles, 2 Rose Bowl victories and 36 wins as the starting Quarterback for the Cardinal. The Senior QB has been characterized as a "leader of men, and a general on the field of battle". Hogan has great athleticism, and decent speed; but his throwing motion reminds many of a wind-up thrown by a MLB pitcher. Hogan does have solid arm strength, and did make several good throws that impressed scouts at the Stanford Pro Day last month. Look for teams to take a chance on Hogan on Day 3, sit him behind a solid starting QB for a few years, and see if he'll be able to adapt his talents to the NFL.
Projection - Late Round 4
Azziz Shittu, Defensive Tackle/End: The 2016 Defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl has been described as an "energizer bunny" that uses his athleticism to make up for the lack of true size of a Defensive Tackle. Shittu is an interesting case as his career at Stanford was cut short in 2014 due to a severe knee injury, and he has been marred with several injuries throughout his time on the farm. Shittu is known as a "tweener" as he does not have the explosive speed to be an every down edge pass rusher, yet he does not have the size to be a true every down Defensive Tackle. Shittu makes up for his lack of size with his ferocity on the field, and ability to make the big play - just ask the Iowa Hawkeyes. Look for teams to take a chance on Shittu later in the draft on Day 3, and hope he develops over a few seasons.
Projection - Round 6
Brennan Scarlett, Defensive End: The graduate transfer made a splash on the Farm in 2015 with his best season as a collegiate. Scarlett had been marred every year as a member of the Cal Football program, and was never a yearlong contributor as every season was cut short due to injury. Scarlett has decent size, and was described by Outland Trophy winner Josh Garnett as the hardest person to block on the Stanford defense. Injury concerns could be the only thing holding Scarlett back as the Graduate Transfer has never played a full season, and has fell victim to the training room every year. Look for teams to take a chance on Scarlett late on Day 3, or possibly be a Priority Free Agent signing.
Projection: Round 7
Kevin Anderson, Outside Linebacker: Anderson had a solid career with the Cardinal, but his last year was marred by injury. He is a good athlete that loves the game; but does not possess traditional size and speed of OLB's in the NFL. Look for a team to sign Anderson as a free agent, and look to make his mark as a Free Agent.
Projection: Free Agent
Remound Wright, Running Back: Wright became a short yardage specialist that may be appealing to teams at the next level. The Senior RB does not have great size, but does have a nose to get those 1-2 yards necessary to move the chains or get into the end zone. Wright will more than likely be given a chance at Special Teams in the beginning of his career.
Projection: Free Agent
Kodi Whitfield, Strong Safety: The converted WR did start for the Cardinal, and improved dramatically - but to compare Whitfield's transition to defense with All Pro Richard Sherman is unfair. Whitfield has great size that NFL teams look for with Defensive Back's, but he is what many call a "work in progress" on the defensive side of the ball. Whitfield has a great pedigree as his dad, "Big" Bob Whitfield had a solid NFL career; but it will take some coaching and time to see if Whitfield can make it at the next level as a defensive star.
Projection: Free Agent
Rollins Stallworth, Wide Receiver: Stallworth was a two-sport athlete on the Farm, and is one of the most intellectual players to grace the Cardinal uniform. Stallworth was a 2nd team Academic PAC 12 performer, and is surely destined to be a captain of industry with his degree in Management Science and Engineering. The Senior WR has great speed, but saw little action in the passing game due to the emergence of fellow starters Devon Cajuste, Michael Rector, and Austin Hooper. Look for teams to give Stallworth a tryout at the next level, with an opportunity to sign as a free agent.
Projection: Invite to camp
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