Stanford's Top 5 NFL Drafts

Peter ChenContributor IIIApril 29, 2012

Stanford's Top 5 NFL Drafts

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    The 2012 NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall was a symphony for Stanford. Andrew Luck was the fourth Cardinal QB to be the first overall pick, and he and G David DeCastro were the fourth pair of Stanford players selected in the first round.   

    Luck and DeCastro were joined by second-rounders TE Coby Fleener and OT Jonathan Martin, giving The Farm four of the first 42 players chosen. 

    Turn the page to see how the 2012 draft stacks up with the other top draft days in Stanford football history.

5. 1992

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    1992 was the last time Stanford had a pair of first-round picks. OT Bob Whitfield was selected eighth overall by the Falcons and Tommy Vardell was picked ninth by the Browns.

    Whitfield played 15 years in the NFL, started every game for the Falcons from 1993 to 2002 and was All-Pro in 1996. Vardell had an eight-year NFL career with the Browns, 49ers and Lions, scoring six touchdowns in both 1997 and 1998.

    Whitfield and Vardell were joined by WR Chris Walsh, who was picked by the Bills in the ninth round, and TE Turner Bauer, selected by the Patriots in the 10th round. Walsh was on the Bills Super Bowl team in 1993 and went on to play nine seasons with the Vikings from 1994 to 2002, totaling 67 career receptions for 719 yards.

4. 1978

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    1978 also saw two Stanford players drafted in the first round. WR James Lofton was taken sixth overall by the Packers, and OT Gordon King was selected 10th by the New York Giants.

    Lofton had a Hall of Fame career with the Packers, Raiders, Bills and others, with a stellar career average of 18.3 yards per reception on 764 catches, 75 of which were touchdowns. 

    King played nine years with the Giants and Jets. 

    Lofton and King were followed by QB Guy Benjamin in the second round and WR Bill Kellar in the seventh round. Both played in the NFL, with Benjamin winning a Super Bowl ring with the 49ers in 1982.

3. 1971

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    Jim Plunkett is the only Heisman Trophy winner in Stanford history. One of the greatest QBs in Farm history, he led Stanford to an upset win over heavily favored Ohio State in the 1971 Rose Bowl, and was the first overall pick in the 1971 NFL draft. 

    He threw for nearly 26,000 yards in a 15-year NFL career highlighted by two Super Bowl victories with the Oakland Raiders in 1981 and 1984. He was the MVP of the 1981 Super Bowl. 

    As the first pick in the draft, Plunkett alone would propel any class to a place among the best Stanford drafts ever. But he was joined in the NFL by four drafted teammates: 17th-round pick WR Randy Vataha (188 career receptions for New England and Green Bay, for over 3,100 yards and 23 TDs); fifth-round pick TE Bob Moore (114 career catches for Oakland, Tampa Bay and Denver, for over 1,200 yards and seven TDs); fourth-round pick DL Dave Tipton, who later was a key assistant coach at Stanford from 1988 to 2006 (six pro seasons for the Giants, Chargers and Seahawks); and fifth-round selection OLB Ron Kadziel, who played one year for New England.

2. 1983

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    John Elway was the first pick in the 1983 draft. One of the greatest players ever on The Farm and in NFL history, he went on to win a pair of Super Bowls with the Broncos and is in the NFL Hall of Fame.

    He wasn't the only 1983 Cardinal to make it to the NFL. TE Chris Dressel was a third-round pick of the Houston Oilers, and he played nine seasons with Houston and four other teams, totaling 111 receptions for nearly 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns.

    RB Mike Dotterer, the only Stanford athlete ever to letter four years in both football and baseball, was an eighth-round pick of the L.A. Raiders and was on the Raiders roster for two seasons.

    RB Vincent White (sixth round, NY Jets) and OT Chris Rose (ninth round, Baltimore Colts) were also chosen in 1983.

1. 2012

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    Luck, DeCastro, Fleener and Martin were among the first 42 players chosen, the best-ever showing for Stanford.

    None of their teammates were drafted in later rounds, so the 1936 Class remains the all-time leader with seven draftees, followed by several classes with six each. 

    However, several other members of the 2011 Cardinal are expected to sign as free agents, with Stanford’s athletic department already reporting that Luck’s roommate and favorite WR target, Griff Whalen, will join Luck and Fleener in Indy, and NT Matthew Masifilo will be reunited with Jim Harbaugh on the 49ers.