Warszawski: How will this Fresno State draft class measure up?

The Fresno BeeMay 8, 2014 

Fresno State's Derek Carr smiles after passing for 527 yards on senior day against New Mexico in Fresno on Nov. 23, 2013.

GARY KAZANJIAN — Associated Press Buy Photo

Derek Carr's future may soon intersect with his past.

The first round of the 2014 NFL draft came and went Thursday night without Fresno State's record-setting quarterback getting his name called. And now things really get interesting.

The Houston Texans choose first in Friday's second round. Yes, the same franchise that chose older brother David Carr No. 1 overall in 2002 only to jettison him five years later with bad feelings on both sides. The same city where Derek lived and began his high school career.

If the Texans are gun shy, maybe Carr will be there for the quarterback-needy Raiders three picks later. Or perhaps the Raiders need to trade up to get him.

That's the thing about pro sports drafts. There are no guarantees. The Jaguars shocked everyone by selecting Blake Bortles at No. 3, and few expected Johnny Manziel to slip and slide all the way to the Browns at No. 22.

There was even drama at No. 32 when the Vikings, a team that spent a day with Carr in Fresno, traded up to acquire the final pick of the first round. Minnesota did take a quarterback, but it was Teddy Bridgewater.

It all leaves Carr as the consensus best quarterback available when the proceedings resume in New York, along with ex-teammate Davante Adams, regarded as one of the best receivers still on the board.

By getting skipped in the first round, Carr's short-term earnings will take a hit. But he can take solace in the fact that Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick and Brett Favre were second-rounders, too.

In any other year, Adams would've been a good bet to be a first-round pick himself. But this year's class is loaded. Five receivers went in the first round and six or seven more, including Adams, could go in the second.

Tight end Marcel Jensen, whose size and speed belies his college production, is projected as a mid-round selection. Receiver Isaiah Burse and tackle Austin Wentworth will either be late-round picks Saturday or sign as priority free agents.

That's five potential NFL draftees from last year's Fresno State offense -- and zero from the defense, which should come as no surprise to anyone who watched the Bulldogs play.

The bigger question is how this class stacks up with Fresno State draft classes of previous vintages.

In terms of both total selections and rounds they're picked, it could be right up there.

Five Fresno State players have been NFL first-round picks: J.D. Williams (1990, No. 16); Trent Dilfer (1994, No. 6); David Carr (2002, No. 1); Logan Mankins (2005, No. 32) and Ryan Mathews (2010, No. 12).

There have also been five second-rounders: Anthony Washington (1981, No. 44); Henry Ellard (1983, No. 32); Ron Cox (1990, No. 33); Marquez Pope (1992, No. 33) and Richard Marshall (2006, No. 58).

(Fresno State has had 11 third-round picks, 12 fourth-rounders, six fifth-rounders, 11 sixth-rounders and 11 seventh-rounders, in case you're curious.)

The most Bulldogs selected in any draft is five, which has happened four times: 1963, 1987, 1990 and 1994. There were four picks in 2002 and 2007.

In terms of draft position, the class of 1994 led by Dilfer ranks No. 1.

Receivers Tydus Winans and Malcolm Floyd were both third-round picks, followed by cornerback James Burton in round 5 and tailback Anthony Daigle in round 6.

Only once have the Bulldogs had both a first- and second-round pick, in 1990 with Williams and Cox. But the other three players (Dwight Pickens, Terry Cook and Myron Jones) went in the eighth, ninth and 11th rounds, respectively.

Which draft class produced the best NFL players? That's a tougher call, but you can make a good argument for 2005 based on one name: Logan Mankins.

I'd rank Mankins, a six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, as the best all-time NFL player out of Fresno State with Ellard and Lorenzo Neal (fourth round, 1993) rounding out the top three.

Mankins and safety James Sanders (fourth round) were in the same draft class and played six seasons together with the Patriots before Sanders finished his career with the Falcons and Cardinals. Mankins just completed his 10th season in New England and is still plowing ahead.

Even though Mankins and Sanders were the only two Bulldogs drafted in 2005, I'd argue their combined careers surpassed those of Dilfer, Winans, Floyd and the rest from 1994. Same for the 1990 quintet.

When you consider undrafted free agents, the 2005 class also gets a boost from Stephen Spach, whose NFL career lasted seven seasons.

What's Spach up to these days? The once wild-haired H-back is now a well-coiffed financial consultant for Thiesen Dueker.

We'll have to wait a few years to see whether the class of 2014 can cut it.

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6218, marekw@fresnobee.com or @MarekTheBee on Twitter.

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