With that pick in the 6th round in 1936, Bob Reynolds became the first player to be drafted from Stanford University. 206 players have followed Reynolds since then and at least two more will join that class this Thursday.
It will be very interesting to see where DE Solomon Thomas and RB/WR/KR/Superman Christian McCaffrey go. Stanford has had 22 1st-round draft picks including 4 #1 overall picks; all of whom were quarterbacks. 5 times, Stanford has had multiple first round players (1942, 1972, 1978, 1992, and 2012) and barring either Thomas or McCaffrey decide to quit football in the next few days, they will join that exclusive company although it might be hard to top the 1992 back to back picks based on current team draft projections.
It will also be interesting to see if K Conrad Ukropina , Francis Owusu or Michael Rector (both wideouts) get drafted in the later rounds, with a direct look at the 6th round. Stanford has had more players drafted in the 6th round (26) than any other round.
Now back to our first round talents in Thomas and McCaffrey. There will be some history in play on Thursday as well for both players. Most mock drafts have McCaffrey going #8 which would be great but would not be the record for highest running back/halfback/fullback taken out of Stanford. That record belongs to Pete Kmetovic who was drafted #3 overall in 1942. McCaffrey would be the highest back to come out of Stanford since 1992 when “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell went #9 overall. Solomon Thomas however is guaranteed to make history. Stanford has never had a DE or DT drafted in the 1st round and the highest drafted defensive player was cornerback Darrien Gordon, who went #22 overall in 1993. Most mock drafts have Thomas staying close to home and being drafted #2 overall to San Francisco.
Speaking of San Francisco, it will be interesting to see if they do in fact stay at #2 and draft Thomas. This isn’t a shot at Thomas but just historical facts. Until last NFL draft when San Francisco traded up for G Joshua Garnett, the last Stanford player to be drafted by San Francisco was in 2003. The same goes for the crosstown Oakland Raiders who coincidentally last drafted a Stanford player in 2003 as well. Looking at the current mocks, it is unlikely either player makes it to Oakland in the late first so let’s turn our attention to the top-10.
Cleveland is going to pick Myles Garrett and/or Mitchell Trubisky so we don’t need to worry about them. We’ve talked about SF so let’s move to Chicago at #3. A Stanford player has not been drafted by Chicago since 2007. If you think that’s long, just wait for the rest of the teams in the top-10. Jacksonville has NEVER drafted a player from Stanford; Tennessee hasn’t taken anyone from the farm since 2002, the Jets since 1985, the Chargers since 1998…. You get what I am saying. There is a great chance you will see a Stanford player holding up a jersey on draft day that seems different than years in recent history.
Now, let’s play a game of best fit, hopeful pick, and where I think both Thomas and McCaffrey will go.
For best fit, I think Thomas falling to Carolina at #8 would be best. He can learn from guys like Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers and he won’t be rushed into a job where he needs to make an immediate impact. It also helps that Carolina had a bad year but isn’t a bad team. He can play on a contender right away. For McCaffrey, I think the best fit is New England because yes, he’s a shorter white guy who can do it all. He won’t fall that far so I won’t go with the super hypothetical but more of a realistic one. I think his best fit would be to Philadelphia or Indianapolis. He would fit the mold of what Philly likes to do offensively and if he is the real deal, he can learn from Frank Gore in Indy and rotate time with Gore as well as play some slot WR and he gets to play with former Stanford #1 overall pick Andrew Luck.
For my dream scenario, I hope they both fall to San Francisco because I am a fan. Now, even in dreams, that is probably unlikely but I hope Thomas goes to SF because he is better than Armstead and Buckner today and even though he is smaller than most who play the positon, he has a motor that will make you forget about size and he can help the San Francisco defense get back to looking like an NFL defense.
For me, the team McCaffrey plays on isn’t as important in my dream scenario as much as what he does for that team. The moment he gets drafted, he will be told he can’t do this and he can’t do that and that is fine because he’s been hearing that his whole life. I’m not saying he is going to be Barry Sanders but let him try first before you crucify him. It’s not like he broke Barry Sanders college rec… oh wait he did. I think my dream team would be Indy given if he is the real deal, I would want him helping Luck and company.
And last but not least, where do I think each player will be drafted? To be honest, I think San Francisco takes Thomas barring a trade but if that happens, I see Thomas falling to Jacksonville and I see McCaffrey going to Carolina unless Carolina gets the DE they really, really want and he will go #14 or #15 to either Philadelphia or Indianapolis.
Stay tuned and watch the first round of the NFL Draft this Thursday at 5pm PST and the rest of the draft Friday and Saturday.