Kansas' Strongest Position Historically in the NFL Draft
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There aren't any Jayhawks particularly likely to be selected in the 2012 NFL draft this season. However, the University of Kansas has a fairly respectable history of NFL talent.
With the 2012 NFL draft just days away, I've decided to tally up Kansas' historically best position in terms of being drafted into the NFL.
The process will be entirely mathematical. The overall position group will be given seven points for every first-rounder its had drafted, six points for every second-rounder and so on, right down to one point for every seventh-rounder. A half-point will be awarded to every player drafted beyond the seventh round, but only when necessary to serve as a tiebreaker.
Despite the fact that there was a time when many players played multiple positions, with several having an impact on both sides of the ball, each former Jayhawk will only be counted once. These athletes' ultimate positions will be selected primarily based upon their listed positions at Pro Football Reference and NFL.com.
Players drafted more than one time will also count only once. The round in which the athlete was initially drafted will determine the amount of points the draftee contributes to his position group.
Nearly every position also contains a very modest look at Kansas' immediate NFL prospectus at the position, though it is inconsequential to the math and the outcome of the article.
Positions will be numbered in order of the least to the greatest number of points, beginning with...
Kicking Specialists: 1 Point
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Kansas isn't historically strong on special teams, and the NFL draft will never be kind to kicking specialists.
Kicker Bruce Kallmeyer is the lone man standing here, after being taken in the seventh round of the 1984 draft. It's not a trend that's likely to be reversed soon, either.
With all due respect to Kansas' best kicking specialists, this is the Jayhawk version of a Mr. Irrelevant position.
Fullback: 4 Points
Former Jayhawk Fullback Moran Norris
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Moran Norris is the lone representative of this group in the seven-round draft. The fourth-rounder has had a successful career with the San Francisco 49ers.
Famed Jayhawk alum Curtis McClinton was actually drafted into the NFL twice. Sadly enough, neither time counts here, as they were in the 10th and 14th rounds.
There are several drafted former Jayhawks on the fringe between the modern-day running back and fullback, but all found their greatest success in a role closer to the former.
Tight End: 6 Points
Former Jayhawk Tight End Derek Fine
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Derek Fine is Kansas' highest draft representative, being taken in the fourth round of the 2008 draft.
John Mosier was the only other true Jayhawk tight end drafted (sixth round), which is all this position needed to squeak out a victory over the fullbacks with six points.
Tim Biere could be the next addition to this list in 2012, though he's unlikely to be drafted.
Similar to the fullback position, several quality tight ends found better success at other positions.
Center: 7 Points
Former Jayhawk Center Justin Hartwig
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Justin Hartwig may be Kansas' most successful NFL center ever, and he was just a sixth-round draft choice.
Mike Wellman, drafted in the third round in 1979, was the lone high Jayhawk draft pick from this position. Center Jeremiah Hatch has popped up on the seventh-round radar of a team or two in 2012, though his draft outlook isn't particularly positive.
Two other double-digit draft picks and a handful of multi-position players constitute the rest of Kansas' collection of NFL centers.
Defensive End: 21 Points
Former Jayhawk Defensive End David McMillan
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Kansas has had quality defensive ends in the past decade, and yet only David McMillan has been taken since the turn of the century. A little too small for end in the pros, his NFL career was over before it ever truly began.
Before McMillan, Ron Warner and Greg Smith were each drafted in the seventh round of the draft, John Zook was taken in the fourth, Mitch Sutton went in the third, and big Mike Butler was taken with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 1977 NFL draft.
Cornerback: 21 Points
Former Jayhawk Cornerback Aqib Talib
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Aqib Talib is Kansas' only first-round choice since Dana Stubblefield in 1993. Talib was Kansas' highest overall draft pick since David Verser went 10th overall in 1981 and is arguably Kansas' most talented pure cornerback ever.
The remainder of the list isn't nearly as impressive, though it was difficult to sort out the safeties from the cornerbacks, and it seems like the former got the better end of the deal.
LeRoy Irvin and Dorian Brew were each selected in the third round of the NFL draft, Skip Sharp went in the fifth, and Johnny Holloway was taken in the seventh.
A good season in 2013 could make senior corner Greg "Lockdown" Brown a draft-worthy candidate to spruce up the position for next year's edition of this article.
Cornerback gets the nod over defensive end for having three corners drafted beyond the seventh round; only two defensive ends were taken beyond that point.
Quarterback: 24 Points
Kansas quarterbacks have found sparse success in the NFL.
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John Hadl is just about the beginning and the end of this position, as he was taken in the first round of the 1962 NFL draft. Ironically, he joined San Diego, who drafted him in the third round of the AFL draft the same year.
He was given points for the first round as, ultimately, the point difference wouldn't have changed this position's ranking.
The other men selected were Bobby Douglass in the second round, David Jaynes and Frank Seurer in the third round and Mike Norseth in the seventh.
Dayne Crist has the build and arm strength to be the next man on this list; staying healthy and demonstrating leadership in his unique situation at Kansas will get him selected in 2013.
Guard: 28 Points
The Kansas offensive line leads the way for Todd Reesing.
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Steve Lawson was Kansas' highest ever guard selection, going in the second round. Dave Scott and Roger Bernhardt each went in the third round, Bob Childs, Bob Hantla and Paul Fairchild were selected in the fifth, and Marv Clothier, Chris Banks and Hessley Hempstead were chosen in the seventh round of the NFL draft.
Plenty of middle-of-the-road talent keeps this group competitive, but a lack of top-end quality keeps this group near the bottom of the list.
Like several current Jayhawks mentioned previously, a big season from Duane Zlatnik will turn a lot of NFL heads toward the powerful, fluid left guard.
Defensive Tackle: 31 Points
Former Jayhawk Defensive Tackle Dana Stubblefield
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The Jayhawks hit the cycle at this position. Dana Stubblefield went in the first round, Jim Bailey in the second, Gilbert Brown and Vern Vanoy in the third and Nate Dwyer and Chris Maumalanga in the fourth.
Karl Salb is actually the only other Jayhawk defensive tackle ever drafted, and he didn't go until the 14th round.
Dwyer is the most recent Jayhawk drafted at the position (2002), a dry spell that likely won't be broken for another year or two.
Wide Receiver: 32 Points
Former Jayhawk Receiver Kerry Meier
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Given Kansas' offensive run during the Mark Mangino era, this seems like a relatively underrepresented position for the Jayhawks.
The fact of the matter is that Mangino's offenses were only responsible for Kerry Meier in the fifth round and Marcus Henry and Dezmon Briscoe in the sixth.
Kansas' best receiver successes actually came from 1975 to 1983, when David Verser was taken in the first round, Emmett Edwards and Wayne Capers were taken in the second, and Bruce Adams was chosen in the fourth round of the NFL draft.
Fan favorite Isaac Byrd is the only other Jayhawk who qualifies here, going in the sixth round of the 1997 draft. However, a revamped offense in 2012 could add Kale Pick and Daymond Patterson to this list in 2013.
Safety: 32 Points
Former Jayhawk Safety Darrell Stuckey
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A trio of second-rounders, Nolan Cromwell, Kurt Knoff and Eddie Lewis, top this list. Beyond them, Darrell Stuckey most recently went in the fourth round, Alvin Walton went in the third in 1986, and a handful of late-rounders top off the list.
Interestingly enough, two of Kansas' most successful NFL safeties ever don't qualify for this list: Kwamie Lassiter, who went undrafted, and Otto Schnellbacher, who went in the 25th round of the draft.
As far as the immediate future, Bradley McDougald has better size and athleticism than even Darrell Stuckey. He'll be drafted if he proves he can make plays.
Five safeties from Kansas were drafted beyond the seventh round of the NFL draft, giving them the nod over the wide receiver position, which featured four.
Linebacker: 35 Points
Will former Jayhawk Linebacker Steven Johnson be drafted in 2012?
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I wanted to split linebackers up by inside and outside players, but ultimately could not find reliable enough resources. Linebackers as a single unit will get the benefit of the doubt for this article, at least.
Don Goode, Kirby Criswell, Terry Beeson and Ronnie Ward were each taken in the top half of the NFL draft, with Goode being selected 15th overall in 1974.
Beyond them, Jim Zidd, Tom Dinkel, Steve Towle, Mike Lemon and Steve Conley were taken in rounds five through seven.
Toben Opurum is the obvious candidate for Kansas' future at this position in the NFL, though at this point in time the prospectus is based almost purely on potential.
Offensive Tackle: 46 Points
Former Jayhawk Left Tackle Anthony Collins
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Surprisingly, the offensive tackle position has been one of Kansas' most consistently talented positions throughout its history.
Mike McCormack headlines the position, being taken in the third round of the 1951 draft. Reggie Smith and Lindsey Mason are the next most notable Jayhawk tackles drafted, each going in the third round.
Perhaps Tanner Hawkinson, in the 2013 NFL draft, will be the next in a line of mid-round tackles from KU, including Adrian Jones in 2004 and Anthony Collins in 2008, each taken in the fourth round.
Running Back: 50 Points
Former Jayhawk Running Back Gale Sayers
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There was really no contest for the top spot. Gale Sayers, Ray Evans and John Riggins constitute an extremely talented group of first-rounders alone. Sayers was another athlete drafted into both the AFL and the NFL, but spurned the AFL Chiefs' offer for a chance to play with the Bears.
Delvin Williams (second), Laverne Smith (fourth), Forrest Griffith (fifth) and Wade Stinson (fifth) are just a few of the others of whom you may have heard.
Despite Kansas' successes at the position, only June Henley (fifth round in 1997), L.T. Levine (seventh round in 1996) and Lynn Williams (sixth round in 1986) have been drafted in the past three decades.
Kansas fans are hoping Charlie Weis' stable of running backs proves talented enough to reverse that trend.