Thursday, July 31, 2014

The 25 most highly drafted football players from the University of Utah (25 items)

By , For the Deseret News

May 7, 2014

Now that we have reached the eve of the 2014 NFL draft, there is no better time than to revisit the most highly drafted players to ever come out of the University of Utah.

The main reason for the perfect timing is to show how much talent that has come out of the U in recent years. It also shows how much of a guessing game the draft really is for most organizations. All you have to do is look at the two most glaring omissions from this list to see why that is the case.

While plenty of the players on this list have had very good careers in the NFL, the two players with the best showings out of Utah (Steve Smith and Larry Wilson) weren’t drafted high enough to fall into this category. They aren’t the Utes who had impressive NFL careers after slipping to the later rounds of the draft either. Players like Scott Mitchell (93rd overall), Mike Anderson (189th overall), Jamal Anderson (201st overall) and Bob Trumpy (301st overall) all had productive careers even though they weren’t highly drafted.

It is important to note the order of how each player is listed is based on the spot they were drafted and not the round. The older drafts had fewer teams so there weren’t as many picks each round.

Here is a look at the players from Utah who were the most highly drafted and how they played once they stepped on an NFL field.

Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lead writer of the website jmoneysports.com. Contact him at jmoney34@hotmail.com. Twitter: @jmoneysports

1 of 25. 25. Del Rodgers

Rodgers was selected in the third round (71st overall) by the Green Bay Packers in the 1982 draft. Rodgers appeared in 31 games in four seasons over a seven-year period with the Packers and the San Francisco 49ers as a running back and kick returner. His most productive season came as a rookie with the Packers in ’82 when Rodgers carried the ball 46 times for 175 yards and a touchdown while making three catches for 23 yards. Rodgers also returned 20 kicks that season for 436 yards.

For his career, Rodgers finished with 315 yards and two touchdowns rushing, 10 receptions for 124 yards, as well as 82 kick returns for 1,735 yards and a touchdown.

2 of 25. 24. Merrill Douglas

Douglas was taken in the sixth round (65th overall) by the Chicago Bears in the 1958 draft. Douglas appeared in 55 games over five seasons with the Bears, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles as a running back and a situational kick returner. One of his best seasons came with the Bears in 1959 when Douglas carried the ball 24 times for 47 yards and scored his only two NFL rushing touchdowns.

For his career, Douglas totaled 213 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 26 yards on four receptions in the passing game.

3 of 25. 23. Jeff Griffin

Griffin was selected in the third round (61st overall) by the Saint Louis Cardinals in the 1981 draft. Griffin appeared in 50 games (23 starts) over six seasons with the Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles in the defensive back field. One of his best seasons came in 1982 when Griffin started eight of the nine games he played in for the Cardinals and had an interception, according to Football-reference.com.

For his career, Griffin totaled four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a sack.


4 of 25. 22. Sean Smith

Smith was taken in the second round (61st overall) by the Miami Dolphins in the 2009 draft. Smith has appeared in 79 games (71 starts) over five seasons with the Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs. One of his most productive seasons came with the Dolphins in 2012 when Smith recorded 59 tackles, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

To this point in his career, Smith has registered 258 and seven interceptions as a defensive back.

5 of 25. 21. Keever Jankovich

Jankovich was selected in the fifth round (60th overall) by the Cleveland Browns in the 1952 draft. Jankovich played 12 games over two seasons with the Dallas Texans and the Chicago Cardinals as a linebacker and recovered two fumbles.

1. SpokaneUte
Spokane Valley, WA,
May 7, 2014

I am surprised to see Eric Weddle listed behind Luther Elliss and Kevin Dyson....

2. AltaHawkFan
Sandy, UT,
May 7, 2014

@SpokaneUte The order is based on their Overall pick number.

3. VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV,
May 7, 2014

Good times! Go Utes!

4. John Locke
Ivins, , UT,
May 7, 2014

And Alex was a two star! Most of the great athletes of Utah, Utah St. and BYU are likely unknown when they come into college in Utah...it is great coaching that beings out their talents. In the last few years, teams from the PAC12 and SEC are learning that there are great football players here in Utah...I just hate to see them go to other schools when, after their playing days, they most likely will live here.

5. LeftCoastUte
DANVILLE, CA,
May 8, 2014

Greats like Steve Smith, Mike Anderson, Jamal Anderson were drafted too low for this list but obviously are/were great NFL players. Just shows that the U. has really delivered when it comes to preparing players to succeed in the pros.