CU at the NFL Draft

April 27th

Polk, Pericak and Rippy sign as free agents; Major gets an invite to a mini-camp

Several CU seniors went undrafted on Sunday, but still harbor hopes of landing a spot on an NFL roster.

Defensive tackle Will Pericak signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens, while linebacker Doug Rippy signed with the Denver Broncos, and safety Ray Polk signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

From … Pericak (6-4, 300) said the Ravens flew him to Baltimore in March and were “upfront and honest with me . . . they’re really on top of their game; they know what they’re doing.”

Pericak said a meeting with the coaching staff gave him the impression “that they wanted me there. They said they would have drafted me if things had worked out, but this is just as good.”

Pericak will be reunited in Baltimore with former CU corner Jimmy Smith, who was a first-round draftee of the Ravens two years ago.

Rippy (6-2, 240)  said he was excited to be returning to Colorado from his native Ohio. “It’s crazy,” he said. “I talked to some other teams throughout the process . . . I think they know what I can do, and this is a good opportunity for me.”

Rippy’s CU career was hampered by knee injuries, which he believes kept him from being drafted. “I just need to get back out there and show what I’m capable of doing,” he said.

… Linebacker Jon Major, meanwhile, did not sign a free agent contract. He did, however, garner an invite to a Chicago Bears mini-camp later this spring. If Major can show the Chicago coaches he is worth their time, he can still earn a free agent contract for fall camp.

April 26th

Nick Kasa to the Oakland Raiders

CU tight end Nick Kasa became an Oakland Raider in the sixth round of the NFL draft.

Kasa was the 4th pick of the 6th round (No. 172 overall), and will have some competition making the team. Twelve picks after Kasa, the Raiders picked another tight end, Mychal Rivera of Tennessee.

Kasa had an interesting career. A highly rated player out of Legacy high in Thornton, Kasa was a Florida commit, but switched to CU because the Gators wanted him to switch to the offensive side of the ball, while CU was willing to let him play defensive end.

Kasa’s career at CU provides the Raiders what they seem to excel at … a player who is finding his way.

2009 – Kasa suffered a knee injury in the first fall scrimmage (August 13), but it did not require surgery.  He did miss the first three games of the season, but returned to play in the next four (West Virginia, Texas, Kansas, Kansas State), but was then sidelined for the final five due to mononucleosis.

2010 – He played in all 12 games, including one start (versus Texas Tech), and saw action for 286 snaps from scrimmage.  He was in on 18 tackles for the year, 12 solo and two for losses, including one quarterback sack, and two tackles for zero.

2011 – He appeared in 11 games (no starts), switching sides of the ball from defensive end to tight end late in the season; he moved over eight games into the year, practicing at tight end and appearing in a game on offense for the first time in the season finale at Utah, where he caught one pass for eight yards.

2012 – He started all 12 games (12 of the 13 games in his career as a tight end), yet he was one of only 26 on the official midseason watch list for the John Mackey Award (he did not advance to the semifinalist stage).  He was invited to play in both the East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl games in the postseason, but only played in the latter (catching one pass for 8 yards).  While still learning all the nuances of the position, he caught 25 passes for 391 yards for a team-best 15.6 per, seldom a stat that is led by a tight end, with three touchdown receptions (just the 21st time a CU tight end has caught three or more touchdown passes in a season).

CU and the Raiders … Kasa becomes the 10th players drafted by the Raiders all-time, but only the second since 1993 … The only other Buff taken by the Raiders in the draft was Tyler Brayton, a first round pick (No. 32 overall) in the 2003 draft … Several Raider picks turned out well, including wide receiver Cliff Branch, defensive back Mike Davis, and linebacker Greg Biekert … A total of ten Super Bowl rings have been earned by Buffs while wearing the Silver and Black, including three by Cliff Branch, two each by Mike Davis and Odis McKinney, and one each by running back Terry Kunz, linebacker Greg Westbrooks and tight end Don Hasselback.

David Bakhtiari to the Green Bay Packers

It took waiting through 108 picks, but junior David Bakhtiari finally heard his name called.

With the 12th pick of the fourth round of the NFL draft (No. 109 overall), Bakhtiari became a Green Bay Packer.

The 18th Buff picked by the Packers (the most of any team in the NFL), Bakhtiari keeps the record of early entry Buffs who have been drafted (CU is now seven-for-seven, see list below).

Signed in 2009 by Dan Hawkins’ staff, Bakhtiari redshirted as a freshman then started 11 of 12 games at right tackle in what would be Hawkins’ final season (2010). He moved to left tackle for the 2011-12 seasons under Jon Embree and was a second-team All-Pac-12 Conference selection in each season.

Rather than return as a fifth-year senior under new coach Mike MacIntyre, Bakhtiari decided to declare his eligibility for the draft – and he has no regrets about doing so. “I was comfortable with it (his decision) the day I made it,” he said. “I don’t want to live with any regret; this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and so far I’ve enjoyed every second of it.”

He participated earlier this year in the NFL Combine, had maybe half a dozen workouts for teams in Colorado, made visits to Baltimore and Philadelphia, and spoke with “numerous teams” on the telephone. Being an underclassman, he believed he needed more of an introduction to NFL teams and their directors of player personnel than maybe some other prospects.

Embree and former CU O-line coach Steve Marshall – both ex-NFL coaches – helped him with his decision, offering evaluations that fell in line with what he was given elsewhere. “I was getting the same kind of feedback pretty much everywhere I went and I was comfortable with that,” Bakhtiari said.

CU and the Packers … As noted, Bakhtiari becomes the 18th pick of a Buff by the Green Bay Packers, more than any other NFL team … Bakhtiari will join two former Buffs who are starters on the current roster, kicker Mason Crosby (sixth round, 2009) and linebacker Brad Jones (seventh round, 2009) … Only one Buff has been chosen in the first round by the Packers, offensive tackle Matt Koncar in 1976 … Boyd Dowler, drafted as a quarterback in the third round of the 1959 draft, won two Super Bowl rings with the Packers in 1966 and 1967 … Two defensive tackles, Shannon Clavelle and Darius Holland, won Super Bowl rings with the Packers in 1996, while Crosby and Jones won Super Bowl rings with the Packers in 2010.

April 24th

Some notes about the University of Colorado and the NFL draft …

– Colorado has had 24 first round draft picks in NFL history. The highest-ever pick was Bo Matthews, taken as the No. 2 overall pick by San Diego in 1974.

– The most recent first round draft picks for CU came in 2011, when Nate Solder was taken in the first round by New England (17th pick overall), followed shortly thereafter by Jimmy Smith, going to Baltimore with the No. 27 overall pick.

– The first Buff to be chosen in an NFL draft was halfback Byron White, taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers (the No. 3 pick overall) in the 1938 NFL draft.

– Since 1990, there have been only three drafts which have been conducted without at least one Buff having their name called. Those three drafts were 2001, 2005, and 2010. (An oddity, in April, 1989, the spring before CU went 11-0 in the regular season and climbed to No. 1 in the polls for the first time in school history, no Buffs were drafted).

– Only once in school history has the Colorado program gone two seasons in a row without a player being drafted, and that was back in 1949 and 1950.

– The most Buffs ever drafted in the same spring came in 1976, when 11 Buffs were drafted. The 1975 Buffs went 9-3, and produced three first round draft picks – center Pete Brock (New England, 12th overall pick), defensive tackle Troy Archer (New York Giants, 13th overall pick), and offensive tackle Mark Koncar (Green Bay, 23rd overall pick). That draft also had Buff great Dave Logan going to the Cleveland Browns in the third round (65th pick overall).

– Twice in school history, ten Buffs were drafted in the same season. In 1974, ten Buffs were selected, led by fullback Bo Matthews and tight end J.V. Cain in the first round. In the 1995 draft, ten Buffs were chosen as well, with Michael Westbrook going to the Washington Redskins with the No. 4 overall pick. Westbrook was joined in the first round by Heisman trophy winner Rashaan Salaam, who went to the Chicago Bears at No. 21. Three other Buffs were chosen in the second round of that 1995 draft – tight end Christian Fauria (Seattle); linebacker Ted Johnson (New England); and quarterback Kordell Stewart (Pittsburgh).

– In the 1974 draft, it took 16 rounds to get to ten Buffs. In 1995, ten Buffs were gone by the end of the sixth round.

– David Bakhtiari is only the seventh player in CU history to declare early for the NFL draft. The previous six were all drafted – defensive tackle Leonard Renfro (1st round, Philadelphia, 1993); running back Lamont Warren (sixth round, Indianapolis, 1994); running back Rashaan Salaam (first round, Chicago, 1995); defensive end Shannon Clavelle, sixth round, Buffalo, 1995); cornerback Ben Kelly (third round, Miami, 2000); and running back Chris Brown (third round, Tennessee, 2003).

– The NFL team which has chosen the most Buffs? … The Green Bay Packers, with 17 Buffs, the last being linebacker Brad Jones in the 7th round of the 2009 draft.

– Want some great trivia for your Bronco fans? There have been 14 Buffs selected in the draft by the Broncos, but none since 1980. Can you name the last Buff drafted by Denver? It was nose tackle Laval Short, taken in the 5th round of the 1980 draft (136th pick overall).

– The NFL team which has chosen the fewest Buffs? There is a tie. The Jacksonville Jaguars have only selected one Buff through the draft, being cornerback Chris Hudson in the third round of the 1995 draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have only chosen one Buff, offensive tackle Steve Young, taken in the third round of the 1976 draft (perhaps the Bucs were thinking that they were drafting quarterback Steve Young, who also played for the Bucs, and that is why they have never again chosen a player from CU).

– Jacksonville has only been around since 1995, with Tampa Bay coming into the league in 1976. I found it surprising that the Minnesota Vikings, who have been around since 1960, have only chosen two Buffs in their history – offensive tackle Jerry McClung in the 17th round of the 1964 draft, and fullback Jim Kelleher, in the 12th round of the 1977 draft.

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