The resurgent Stanford Cardinal has been one of the top college football programs over the past five years, sending many talented players to the NFL during that time span. In several cases, college success has led directly to professional stardom.
But who is the best?
Stanford Cardinal Alumni: The Top 3
Andrew Luck – Unquestionably one of the best young guns in today’s NFL is also a future star at the game’s most important position. Luck found himself playing in the Pro Bowl after each of his first two seasons. No one can argue (yet) that he’s penetrated the Top Four QBs in the NFL (Brady, Brees, Manning, Rodgers, in whatever order you’d like), but he compares well to the other league QBs with four or fewer seasons under their belt. Remember, it was neither an accident nor a surprise that Luck was the #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. A few other key points about Luck (Source: Colts team website):
- Most passing yards (4,374), attempts (627) and 300-yard passing games (six) by a rookie in NFL history.
- Broke the NFL single-game rookie record for passing yards (433) against Miami (11/4/12).
- First quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft to start a postseason game as a rookie.
- Most wins (11) by a No. 1 overall draft pick in his rookie season in NFL history.
- 1-of-5 quarterbacks since 1966 to win 10-or-more games in his rookie season.
- First NFL rookie to throw two game-winning touchdown passes inside the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter in a single season.
Most important stat, though: 32. That is the number regular season games started by Luck during his 1st two seasons. It looks like the Colts are set at QB for the next decade plus with the former Stanford star under center.
Richard Sherman – This converted Stanford WR has become one of the premier lock-down CBs in the NFL. Sherman saw his ascendance rewarded with a (short-lived) record-breaking contract this offseason. As a 5th round selection in the 2011 draft, Sherman has played with a chip on his shoulder, to the benefit of the Seattle Seahawks and its fans. Since entering the league, he has been absolutely dominant. A few stats for Sherman (Source: NFL.com):
- Super Bowl Champion (XLVIII)
- League-leading 20 interceptions over past three seasons
- 2013 AP First-Team All-Pro
- 2x Pro Bowl Selection (2012, 2013)
Sherm and his Legion of Boom secondary-mates are the backbone of the defending Super Bowl Champions, who have a chance to win more championships in the future. As accomplished as the young defender already is, the future is equally bright.
Toby Gerhart – Stanford’s recent Heisman Trophy runner-up (2009) has spent most of his career-to-date backing up the best RB in the game in Minneapolis. This coming season, he gets to prove his worth as a feature back with his new team, Jacksonville. Although his rushing totals in the NFL have been modest, he has been effective when he’s had the opportunity to shine. Toby’s numbers include the following (Source: NFL.com):
- 4.7 career rushing average on 276 carries
- 77 career receptions for 600 yards
- 5 career TDs in spot duty relieving Adrian Peterson
Gerhart will be getting north of $3 Million per year to be the main man for the Jaguars for the first time in his NFL career. The former Doak Walker award winner will finally get the chance to demonstrate his ability to carry the rushing load for an NFL franchise, as he did with the newly resurgent Stanford attack during his tenure on the farm.
- Doug Baldwin – Richard Sherman’s college and pro teammate has established himself as a key member of the Seahawks offensive attack, despite being undrafted coming out of Stanford.
- David DeCastro – The bully of an offensive guard missed all of his rookie season with the Steelers due to a nasty leg injury in a preseason game. DeCastro became a solid interior lineman in his 2nd NFL season, and has the talent and nastiness to become a Pro Bowl worthy perfomer.
- Zach Ertz – Chip Kelly drafted the Duck-killing TE as soon as he had an opportunity to play with him in Philadelphia, versus playing against him. Ertz rewarded Kelly with a very strong rookie year, on his way to a good career with the Eagles.
- Coby Fleener – Andrew Luck’s former and current teammate (see a trend?) stepped up his game significantly in his second NFL season, after draft classmate Dwayne Allen was lost to season-ending injury in 2013.
Stanford football fans, what say you? Agree? Disagree? Anyone missing from the list? Leave your answer in our comments section.
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