2012 NFL Draft: Where the Cal Players Are Going
The 2012 NFL Draft has finally ended, and while the University of California may have not had the best 2011 season, the program is off to a hot start after the results of this past weekend. The dust has finally settled, and Cal led the Pac-12 with six overall selections, with three each on days two and three.
In addition to the six prospects selected, six more have since been signed as undrafted free-agent rookies. Here's a quick guide to where all these former Golden Bears will be playing on future Sundays.
OT Mitchell Schwartz, Cleveland Browns: 2nd Round, 37th Overall
Schwartz was drafted fairly early on Friday. Many scouts point to his consistency and versatility as the reason why Cleveland drafted him ahead of other tackles believed to have higher potential.
Schwartz should step in immediately and contribute as Cleveland's RT of the present and future. The Browns are in a transitional stage, as team president Mike Holmgren continues to rebuild the offense with head coach Pat Shurmur. Schwartz will be playing on the same line that features two pro-bowlers in LT Joe Thomas and fellow former Bear C Alex Mack.
One of the bright points of landing in Cleveland will be the lack of pressure to eventually play left tackle, often hailed as the most important position on the offensive line. Since they already have Thomas, Schwartz can focus solely on improving his strength and becoming familiar with the playbook.
ILB Mychal Kendricks, Philadelphia Eagles: 2nd Round, 46th Overall
Shortly after Schwartz was selected, former Bear Mychal Kendricks came off the board as the third-selected middle linebacker. Going to the Philadelphia Eagles will provide Kendricks with an opportunity to immediately start in the 2012 season.
Kendricks should go to camp and battle current strong-side linebacker Jamar Chaney for that position in Jim Washburn's wide-nine defensive formation. While he'd be tried out at SLB, I believe the better position for Kendricks would be at weak-side, where his speed would help him on pass plays and on covering speedy slot receivers and tight ends.
Regardless of who wins the competition for SLB, the loser will probably beat out current WLB Brian Rolle, who proved to be a huge liability during the 2011 season. Kendricks has a chance to stand out in Philadelphia; we should all be excited to see him make plenty of big plays this upcoming season.
P Bryan Anger, Jacksonville Jaguars: 3rd Round, 70th Overall
While most draft analysts and fans laughed at Gene Smith's selection of former Bear Bryan Anger, those who joked should be advised that Anger will provide Jacksonville with a game-changer at the position. You may think that spending a high third-round pick on a punter would be a waste, but teams have learned the consequences of not having a great punter.
In 2010, the Giants' coach ordered rookie punter Matt Dodge to not kick to Eagles PR (and former Bear) DeSean Jackson. Dodge was unable to do so, and the mistake not only cost the Giants the game, it resulted in the team not making the playoffs.
Anger has elite intangibles for a punter, as not only does he have a strong leg (in terms of both air-time and distance) but he was also known as a coffin punter, often able to pin opponents within their 10-yard line. Jacksonville could really use Anger, as they figure to be going three-and-out for the majority of the 2012 season. This former Bear will at least be able to rest at night knowing he can give back the ball with a bad field position.
WR Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals: 5th Round, 166 Overall
Former Bears wide receiver Marvin Jones was expected to go anywhere from the late second round to the middle of the fourth round, but most analysts were surprised to see him still available at the tail end of the fifth round.
While Jones was never overly-productive as a Bear (primarily due to underwhelming quarterback play), he was known for having sure hands, running crisp routes and having 4.47 40-yard speed.
Although the Bengals selected wide receiver Mohamed Sanu from Rutgers this year in the third round, Jones still figures to start ahead of him come opening day due to his familiarity and good fit in a pro-style offense.
Though it was disappointing to see Jones fall in the draft, he's in a great, young offense and will have opportunities to play and produce immediately.
S D.J. Campbell, Carolina Panthers: 7th Round, 216 Overall
While S DJ Campbell failed to receive an invite to all-star games or the Combine, he dramatically improved his stock and managed to gain NFL scouts' attentions due to his eye-opening Pro Day. Primarily a backup third safety and special teams ace while a Bear, Campbell had a successful senior campaign after backing up current Chicago Bear Chris Conte for his sophomore and junior seasons.
Campbell started 13 of 14 games for Cal in the 2011 season and finished his career with 110 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and two interceptions. While he was drafted in the seventh round, Campbell has an excellent chance if he focuses on being a special teams ace for the Panthers.
Carolina has already signed two veteran safeties in former 49er Reggie Smith and former Raven Haruki Nakamura. Campbell will need a little luck in order to make the final 53-man roster and avoid the practice squad, but he will have opportunities to impress in rookie and training camps.
Due to his previous experience on the special teams squad at Cal, Campbell should aim to stand out in preseason action.
DT Trevor Guyton, Minnesota Vikings: 7th Round, 219 Overall
Similar to Marvin Jones, former Bear DE Trevor Guyton experienced a fall of his own in the draft Saturday, as the once projected late third to late fourth-round pick fell all the way to the seventh round, where the defensive line-needy Minnesota Vikings drafted him. Guyton primarily played DE in Cal's 3-4 defense but will be a DT in the Viking's 4-3 defense.
Thought to be one of the premier and experienced 3-4 defensive ends in the 2012 draft, he was known for above-average counter moves and the ability to line up in an unconventional two-point stance. Guyton fell primarily due to inconsistent balance and some lack of productivity while a Bear (but he played behind former first round picks in Tyson Alualu and Cam Jordan).
Guyton's best chance of making the final roster in Minnesota will be to impress in preseason action. He won't be counted on to start but would be expected to be a member of the special teams blocking unit and give breathers to starting DT Kevin Williams as under-tackle. He may have to beat out 2010 draft pick Christian Ballard and career back up Fred Evans.
There is a serious lack of both talent and depth in Minnesota, so I would expect Guyton to make the team in 2012.
DE Ernest Owusu, Minnesota Vikings: Undrafted Free Agent
While it's always the dream of an NFL prospect to be drafted by a team, in some cases it's better for the player to be able to chose his destination by being an undrafted free agent. In Ernest Owusu's case, not being drafted will be a great benefit.
As previously explained in fellow linemate's Trevor Guyton's profile, Minnesota has a serious lack of depth on their D-line. Behind All-Pros Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, most of their lineman are young or unproven. Owusu demonstrated his ability by having an outstanding Pro Day, showcasing his strength and speed by posting 39 reps at the bench press and having a 4.7 40 time.
Owusu's a hard worker and has shown versatility by having experience in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense at defensive end. In Minnesota, Owusu will battle for a backup position with Deandre Reed and undrafted Kevin Cyrille of Florida Atlantic for the fourth defensive end spot in the rotation.
With his speed, I expect Owusu to contribute to special teams and to have a decent shot of making the 53-man roster. If not, there could be an opening on the practice squad for him to hone his skills.
The Vikings have yet to confirm Owusu's signing, which was reported two days ago by numerous media outlets.
ILB DJ Holt, Washington Redskins: Undrafted Free Agent
Though DJ Holt went undrafted on Sunday, his NFL dreams are very much alive, as he was signed by the Washington Redskins. The Redskins run a similar 3-4 defense to Cal, which should help Holt's transition to the pros.
He'll have to impress to beat out the other ILB, but hopefully fellow undrafted Bear alum Lorenzo Alexander will take Holt under his wing and improve his chances of impressing head coach Mike Shannahan and special teams coordinator Danny Smith.
The Redskins have yet to confirm Holt's signing.
TE Anthony Miller, Denver Broncos: Undrafted Free Agent
TE Anthony Miller was the first confirmed undrafted free-agent signing of this year's crop for the Bears, but he faces an uphill battle to make the team.
The Broncos currently have recent signings Jacob Tamme (former Colts player) and Joel Dreessen (former Texan) at the top of the depth chart. They also have 2011 draft picks Virgil Green and Julius Thomas sitting at third and fourth. The Broncos also signed intriguing prospect Cornelius Ingram at the end of the 2011 season, who provides a modern Joker look to this core.
One of Miller's strengths is his blocking, which stands out among the Broncos' current group, as most of the others at the position are known as pass catchers with weak blocking ability. While Miller could make the final roster as their blocking specialist, his best chance would be to land on their practice squad or perhaps impress in the preseason and land on another team that has less depth.
S Sean Cattouse, San Diego Chargers: Undrafted Free Agent
Moments after the draft, Cattouse had a plethora of NFL teams interested in his services. Cattouse chose wisely, signing with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers currently have All-Pro Eric Weddle and Nick Polt penciled in at free safety, which increases the opportunity of Cattouse making the final roster.
Cattouse will have to improve his hip fluidity and develop his tackling ability, but if he can impress on special teams and in the preseason, he has an excellent chance of making their practice squad, as he was the lone safety signed by GM A.J. Smith.
The Chargers have yet to confirm Cattouse's signing.
OG Justin Cheadle, Kansas City Chiefs: Undrafted Free Agent
Like Cattouse, former Bear guard Justin Cheadle had his pick of suitors after the draft commenced on Saturday. Cheadle agreed to terms with the Kansas City Chiefs and will aim to make their roster for the 2012 season.
However, similar to Miller, Cheadle faces an uphill battle as he must beat out another guard on the Chiefs' roster. The Chiefs currently have Jon Asamoah, Darryl Harris, Ryan Lilja and second-round pick Jeff Allen on the roster. Cheadle's best shot would be to impress offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. and earn a practice squad invitation.
The Chiefs have yet to confirm the signing of Cheadle.
K Georgio Tavecchio, San Francisco 49ers: Undrafted Free Agent
Lastly, everyone's favorite Italian Stallion in Cal's kicker alum Georgio Tavecchio improved every season as the Bears' kicker, eventually hitting 20 of 23 field goals in his senior season.
Signed by the hometown San Francisco 49ers, Tavecchio perhaps faces the biggest uphill battle of all the undrafted Cal free agents, as teams usually don't carry more than one kicker on their rosters. In unusual circumstances, teams have been known to include a kickoff specialist, but unfortunately Tavecchio is not known for distance.
When teams sign undrafted kickers, it's usually to bring in another leg for camp and practice situations. Hopefully Tavecchio will use his time wisely as a 49er and learn from one of the league's best, David Akers. Knowing the type of student Tavecchio is, I expect him to study under one of the greats and learn from this experience to hopefully find another job once an injury occurs during the season.
The 49ers have yet to confirm Tavecchio's signing.
Overall, this was a very strong draft for Cal and head coach Jeff Tedford. While they may have not had a first-round pick, they led the entire Pac-12 in players selected and had six additional players sign as undrafted free agents. This class will be remembered as having the second-most Bears drafted (tied with 1977 and 2008).
While this past recruiting season may have been a let-down due to the decommitments, Tedford now can show potential recruits that Cal sends athletes to the Pros while providing them with the highest education.
Here are some more Cal draft facts, according to calbears.com:
Cal has had two players selected in the first or second round of each of the last three drafts and at least one player selected in the second round or higher in each of the past six seasons.
Cal has had three players selected in the first three rounds of each of the last two drafts.
Cal had four first-round picks in three seasons from 2009-11, with at least one in all three, but did not have a first-round pick in 2012.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on twitter @metta_colin