The Stanford Cardinal had quite the season in 2011 and their players will be rewarded for their efforts come draft day. With the 2012 NFL Draft right around the corner, many mock drafts have as many as four Cardinal players going in the first round, including Andrew Luck No. 1 overall to the Colts. In this latest draft update from CBS Sports, Rob Rang has Stanford well-represented in the opening round.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: A year ago at this time, it would have seemed ridiculous to think that the Colts would have the No. 1 pick and be drafting a replacement for Peyton Manning. Unless the Colts are somehow assured that Manning will overcome his three neck surgeries to return to an All-Pro level in his 15th NFL season, however, they can't possibly pass up such a "lucky" opportunity to invest in their future.
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford: Like the Miami Dolphins, the Chiefs have individual talent up front. Barry Richardson at right tackle, however, is a weak spot that might be addressed should one of the top three tackles still be on the board. Some scouts think Martin is the most talented pass blocker in the draft. Furthermore, his mobility makes him a natural fit in the Chiefs' current zone-blocking system.
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: The strong play from rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green has hidden the reality that the Bengals remain a team that prides itself on running the football. DeCastro is earning comparisons to former Oakland Raider great Steve Wisniewski for his size and physical play.
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: The Giants are among the more talented teams in the league but their maddening inconsistency is sure to result in changes in the offseason. One obvious area in which the team could improve would be to add a tight end capable of making big plays down the middle. The 6-6, 250-pound Fleener averaged 20.2 yards per reception for Stanford in 2011, leading the team with 10 touchdowns. Considering the other weapons on this offense, Fleener could make an immediate impact in a similar role as what that the Patriots and Saints run with Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.
There is little doubt that Luck, Martin and DeCastro will be first round selections, although Fleener has been viewed as more of a second round pick by most mock drafts. It will be interesting to see just how high his stock flies in the coming months. The 2012 NFL Draft will begin on April 26.
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