In two games and three rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft, a few Stanford Cardinal have joined the ranks of professional football players.
J.J. in Philly
The Eagles have struggled mightily trying to find a second receiver to pair with Alshon Jeffery. The cycle of Jordan Matthews, Golden Tate, Josh Huff and Nelson Augalor (to name a few), all of whom disappointed in the second receiver spot. High production from tight ends like Zach Ertz (what up Stanford Alumni) helped various Philly quarterbacks, the lack of a real No. 2 is a need yet to be addressed.
With Arcega-Whiteside on the roster, the Eagles not only have a potential second pass catcher but the makings of a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs. Both receivers are 6-foot-3 and plus 215. The duo is two guys who can throw their weight around in the red zone and box out defenders. But they are far from one trick ponies, as both can get vertical quickly but share no qualms about going over the middle of the field.
Arcega-Whiteside proved last season he can take over games and impose his will on defense. If he can leap to the next level, it will help the Eagles jump a level too.
Okereke and the Colts
A tremendous athlete just joined the Indianapolis roster. The Colts finally have a sound front office and have been drafting lights out, adding crucial pieces to their offensive line and defense.
The Colts played red hot to finish the 2018 season, including the young, fast defense. The highlight of the process being last season’s Defensive Rookie of the Year: linebacker Darius Leonard.
Okereke is another speed asset to the front seven of the Colts. His speed allows him to fool offenses and a blitz, sneaking up on the line before bailing out to cover a tight end 15 yards down the field. The perfect sideline to sideline backer, Okereke is an excellent fit with players like Leonard, Malik Hooker and Jabaal Sheard.
A few more Cardinal joined the professional ranks in the final stanza of the draft. The 112th overall pick in the fourth round shipped Bryce Love joined the Washington Redskins. The next round sent Jake Bailey to the New England Patriots (chosen163rd overall). Stanford saw one more player go soon after, Kaden Smith in the sixth at 176 to the San Francisco 49ers.
Love for Washington
The Redskins is one of probably six to eight worst teams for Love to land, which is unfortunate for one of the PAC-12’s best running backs. The Redskins boast an old Adrian Peterson, a consistently injured Derrius Guice and scat back in Chris Thompson. Best case is Washington stashing Love for a season to get back to 100 percent, integrating him into the rotation come 2020 as they phase out Peterson. Worst case; Peterson pulls an ancient hamstring and Guice’s knee injuries continue, thrusting Love too many carries too soon.
Bailey punting for rings
Stanford’s premier punter will be joining an elite special teams unit on a championship roster. He can continue to sharpen his talents on a team which prides itself on crisp special teams. The current punter, Ryan Allen, resigned in March, giving Bailey time to grow.
Smith stays close to home
A fantastic tight end joins an offense run by a great mind and piloted by a great quarterback. The tight end position is crucial in the 49ers’ system to both the running and the passing attack. Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle will draw a lot of attention after his monster season. Smith will see a lot of one on one matchups he can victimize, while not wavering in the ground game.
Overall, both of these are A plus landing spots for these players. Each team needs the set of skills they offer and run systems they can fit their talents. Both Philly and the Colts will give them a real chance to find minutes this season. The homes for the three Cardinal on Saturday rank from woeful to gold, with Bailey landing somewhere in the middle, shaded towards gold.
Congrats to Arcega-Whiteside, Okereke, Love, Bailey and Smith for making it to the next level!