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CU at the NFL Draft

Buffs sign free agent NFL contracts 

CU seniors who have signed NFL free agent contracts:

  • Linebacker Derrick McLendon … Carolina Panthers
  • Defensive lineman Leonard Payne … Miami Dolphins
  • Wide receiver Xavier Weaver … Arizona Cardinals
  • Defensive lineman Jalen Sami … Miami Dolphins (mini-camp)

No Buffs taken in 2024 NFL Draft

For the 3rd year in a row, no players from the University of Colorado were selected in the NFL Draft. It’s the first time in draft history (since 1936) that CU has gone 3 consecutive years without a player being selected.

Trivia Time … Who was the last Buff taken in the NFL Draft? 

While sitting through a rain-soaked Spring Game Saturday, you can win a bet or two with the following question:

— Who was the last Buff to hear his name called at the NFL Draft?

The answer, it turns out, depends on how you look at it.

There were no CU players taken in the 2023 NFL Draft, but two were taken in the 2022 NFL Draft … sort of.

If you check out the official CU record book, you will find two “Buffs” listed as being taken in the 2022 NFL Draft:

  • 17. Christian Gonzalez, CB, New England (1)
  • 102. Mekhi Blackmon, CB., Minnesota (3)

Yeah, but … Christian Gonzalez played his final collegiate season at Oregon, while Mekhi Blackmon finished his career as a USC Trojan.

So, if you aren’t going to take the CU record book at face value, then the answer to the trivia question is …

  • 157. Will Sherman, OT, New England (6) … with Sherman being drafted as part of the 2021 NFL Draft.


Colorado at No. 27 on the all-time list of NFL draftees

From … Colorado was a regular in the Top 25 of all-time NFL Draft picks until the recent drought pushed the Buffs out of the list. Just two years ago, CU was at No. 23 in all-time draftees, with 276, but have since fallen behind Minnesota (273 two years ago), Arkansas (274 two years ago), Florida State (275 two years ago) and Stanford (272 two years ago). Next in line to pass the Buffs (likely this year) are Clemson  and Iowa.

The list (heading into the 2024 NFL Draft) …

  • No. 22 … Purdue … 292
  • No. 23 … Minnesota .. 280
  • No. 24 … Arkansas … 279
  • No. 25T … Florida State … 278
  • No. 25T … Stanford … 278
  • No. 27 … Colorado … 276
  • No. 28 … Clemson … 274
  • No. 29 … Iowa … 272


Quirky CU Draft Facts 

— On two occasions, CU Buffs have been “Mr. Irrelevant”, the last choice in the NFL Draft. In 1977, the Minnesota Vikings selected fullback Jim Kelleher, while in 1984 the Los Angeles Raiders selected quarterback Randy Essington. CU was the only school with two players earning this distinction until South Carolina had the final players of the 2009 and 2013 drafts;

— Eleven times in Colorado history, an undergraduate has declared for the NFL Draft, (the most recent two before this past year being Isaiah Oliver for the 2018 Draft and Laviska Shenault for the 2020 Draft), and all eleven players have been drafted. Offensive lineman Will Sherman kept the streak alive in 2021, going to New England in the sixth round;

— CU has never had the No. 1 overall draft pick, but has had the No. 2 overall pick, with fullback Bo Matthews going No. 2 to San Diego in the 1974 NFL Draft;

— Overall, Colorado has had six top ten picks, including Matthews, HB Byron “Whizzer” White (No. 4 to Pittsburgh in 1938); WR Michael Westbrook (No. 4 to Washington in 1995); TE J.V. Cain (No. 7 to St. Louis in 1974); CB Mark Haynes (No. 8 to N.Y. Giants in 1980); and OG Chris Naeole (No. 10 to New Orleans in 1997);

— In the 1977 draft, five Buffs were selected in the second round, with all five taken within 18 picks of each other;

— In the 1996 draft, CU had only seven seniors available, with five of those players being drafted (and a sixth player signing as a free agent). The five players drafted were: OG Heath Irwin (4th round; New England); DE Daryl Price (4th round; San Francisco); C Bryan Stoltenberg (6th round; San Diego); CB T.J. Cunningham (6th round; Seattle); and DT Kerry Hicks (7th round; Carolina);

— In the decade between 1991 and 2000, Colorado had 58 players drafted, second in the nation. In the most recent decade, 2010 to 2019, Colorado had … 15.


CU NFL Draftees – It’s been pretty quiet decade for Buffs

CU finished the 2021 NFL draft with one selection, with Will Sherman going to New England in the sixth round. The 2021 draft represented the seventh draft in the previous 12 years in which Colorado had fewer than two players selected. The 2023 Draft represented the fourth season during the drought with no selections (joining the 2010, 2015, and 2016 drafts).

The past decade-plus of CU players selected in the NFL draft:

2010 (0)

2011 (4)
17. Nate Solder, OT, New England (1)
27. Jimmy Smith, CB, Baltimore (1)
118. Jalil Brown, CB, Kansas City (4)
227. Scotty McKnight, WR, N.Y. Jets (7)

2012 (2)
160. Ryan Miller, OG, Cleveland (5)
231. Tony Clemons, WR, Pittsburgh (7)

2013 (2)
109. David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay (4)
172. Nick Kasa, TE, Oakland (6)

2014 (1)
45. Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle (2)

2015 (0)

2016 (0)

2017 (4)
60. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Dallas (2)
66. Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, San Francisco (3)
111. Tedric Thompson, SS, Seattle (4)
246. Jordan Carrell, DT, Dallas (7)

2018 (1)
58. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Atlanta (2)

2019 (1)
187. Juwann Winfree, WR, Denver (6)

2020 (3)
42. Laviska Shenault, WR, Jacksonville (2)
103. Davion Taylor, LB, Philadelphia (3)
226. Arlington Hambright, OL, Chicago (7)

2021 (1)
197. Will Sherman, OL, New England (6)

2022 (2)

17. Christian Gonzalez, CB, New England (1)
102. Mekhi Blackmon, CB, Minnesota (3)

2023 (0)



4 Replies to “CU at the NFL Draft”

  1. CU fell from top 15 or 16th in wins, totals and percentage to out of the top 25, no wonder why they also fell out of the top of programs with players drafted to the NFL.. The slide started with slick rick and one really bad hire, along with an administration that didn’t get it and the importance of supporting a program that was a pretty big deal. The Friday’s after Thanksgiving were know as the Ralphie v the children of the corn day…

    No, not really, but it was a popular nationally televised game on a prime time slot on a big college football day. And CU lost that and more.

    We’re already talking about two possible Heisman candidates and possibly three or more drafted next year; depending on CU’s win record and performance on the field there could be more than three taken next year.

    Let’s hope Prime and crew can build off of last year and bring CU back into the fold.

  2. I was curious as to which Buff played the longest in the NFL. Branch was my first guess but he was in third place according google with 14 seasons. Chad Brown played 15 and Stan Brock played 16. I’m not sure how many years Crosby “played”

      1. I didnt discriminate. I disparaged all kickers.
        Chad Brown, a linebacker, throwing his body around for 15 seasons? That is “playing”😃

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