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Six Stanford football players drafted; Skov signs with 49ers as free agent

Six Cardinal football players were picked in the 2014 NFL Draft on Friday and Saturday to tie a program record and lead the Pac-12, while three more have already signed as unrestricted free agents.

Stanford outside linebacker Trent Murphy (left) was the Cardinal's first player off the board, going in the second round of the NFL Draft. Snubbed was his fellow linebacker, Shayne Skov (center), who signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent. (LUIS AGUILAR/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford outside linebacker Trent Murphy (left) was the Cardinal’s first player off the board, going in the second round of the NFL Draft. Snubbed was his fellow linebacker, Shayne Skov (center), who signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent. (LUIS AGUILAR/The Stanford Daily)

But even with those impressive numbers, several Stanford players were selected later than expected, most notably inside linebacker Shayne Skov, who wasn’t drafted at all.

Though Skov signed with the San Francisco 49ers — rejoining former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio — on Saturday evening, it was assumed entering the weekend that the four-year starter and heart of the Cardinal defense would be chosen in the draft. After so many years of dominance for the Stanford defense, it appears that Skov still has something left to prove.

“Gunna make my mark in this league before it’s all over,” he Tweeted on Saturday.

The draft festivities for the Cardinal began with the expected second-round selection of outside linebacker Trent Murphy by the Washington Redskins on Friday night. After that, it took until the last pick in the fourth round for the next Stanford player, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, to leave the board and join the New England Patriots.

Fleming was followed by offensive guard David Yankey (Minnesota Vikings) and free safety Ed Reynolds (Philadelphia Eagles) in the fifth, running back Tyler Gaffney (Carolina Panthers) in the sixth and defensive end Ben Gardner (Dallas Cowboys) in the seventh.

***

Yankey’s sixth-round selection was relatively late for the highly touted guard. But his wasn’t the biggest slide for a Cardinal star over the weekend, as all 256 picks came and went without Skov’s name being called.

Of course, several undrafted free agents (UFAs) from the Farm have come into league and made their mark on the league in recent years, including defensive back Michael Thomas and wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Griff Whalen.

But Skov’s college resume is arguably the strongest of that bunch, potentially signaling lingering concerns over the linebacker’s recovery from his ACL/MCL tear as a junior. Skov’s team-leading 109-tackle performance in 2013 went a long way toward proving that he has pro-caliber speed. Apparently, that wasn’t enough for NFL GMs.

***

Stanford fans’ disappointment that Skov wasn’t drafted was at least partially offset by the Cowboys’ selection of Gardner, an under-the-radar prospect despite his three years as an anchor of the Cardinal’s defensive line.

Gardner’s draft stock plummeted after a late-season pectoral tear in 2013. The NFL Combine snub regained that footing with an impressive showing at Stanford’s pro day, and that likely earned him a spot with a Dallas team that is looking to shore up its depth after a disastrous defensive effort last season.

***

Murphy joins a Redskins team with a pair of All-Pro outside linebackers already. He’s being billed in Washington as a potential successor to Brian Orakpo or Ryan Kerrigan, who are currently under contract for one and two years, respectively.

The Cardinal’s second player selected, Fleming, is also unlikely to start in 2014-15, with Marcus Cannon and Sebastian Vollmer ahead of him on New England’s depth chart at right tackle. If that projection holds true, Fleming will essentially replace Stanford alum Will Svitek ’04, who was not resigned by the Patriots as a backup tackle.

But Gaffney might have the tallest ladder to climb. The Panthers have a host of other running backs under contract, including a former Cardinal nemesis, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner.

***

Covering Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz ’13, whose speed and size made him dominant at Stanford and led to a 36-catch, 4-touchdown rookie season, is a mismatch for any defensive back. Now that defensive back — at least at Eagles practices — will be his former Cardinal teammate, Reynolds.

***

As of Saturday night, the other confirmed UFA signings from Stanford were fullback Ryan Hewitt with the Bengals and defensive end Josh Mauro with the Steelers. Both Hewitt and Mauro were surprising draft misses.

Free safety Devon Carrington will also aim to become a Steeler at their rookie minicamp. In Pittsburgh, Mauro and Carrington will rejoin former Cardinal teammate David DeCastro, a starting offensive lineman for the Steelers.

After rumors on Saturday, running back Anthony Wilkerson confirmed on Sunday that he had earned a rookie minicamp tryout with the Colts. If he sticks, he’ll become him the fifth former Stanford player (along with Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Delano Howell and Whalen) currently in Indianapolis.

Inside linebacker Jarek Lancaster also announced on Sunday that he had received a rookie minicamp invitation from the Oakland Raiders.

Kevin Danser and Khalil Wilkes round out the list of outgoing Stanford players looking for a pro contract. Early in the week, Stanford football Tweeted that Danser had a rookie minicamp tryout with the Tennessee Titans, while Wilkes had earned a similar opportunity with the San Diego Chargers.

For a full recap of the Cardinal-related action at the draft, check out our liveblog.

Contact Joseph Beyda at jbeyda ‘at’ stanford.edu.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Devon Carrington and Anthony Wilkerson had signed contracts. As of May 13, they have only earned rookie minicamp invitations.

Draft board

All photos courtesy of StanfordPhoto.com.

Trent Murphy, OLB
Trent Murphy, OLB2nd Round (47), Redskins
Cameron Fleming, OT
Cameron Fleming, OT4th Round (140), Patriots
David Yankey, OG
David Yankey, OG5th Round (145), Vikings
Ed Reynolds, FS
Ed Reynolds, FS5th Round (162), Eagles
Tyler Gaffney, RB
Tyler Gaffney, RB6th Round (204), Panthers
Ben Gardner, DE
Ben Gardner, DE7th Round (231), Cowboys
Shayne Skov, ILB
Shayne Skov, ILBUndrafted Free Agent, 49ers
Josh Mauro, DE
Josh Mauro, DEUndrafted Free Agent, Steelers
Ryan Hewitt, FB
Ryan Hewitt, FBUndrafted Free Agent, Bengals
Devon Carrington, FS
Devon Carrington, FSRookie Minicamp Invite, Steelers
Anthony Wilkerson, RB
Anthony Wilkerson, RBRookie Minicamp Invite, Colts
Jarek Lancaster, ILB
Jarek Lancaster, ILBRookie Minicamp Invite, Raiders
Kevin Danser, OG
Kevin Danser, OGRookie Minicamp Invite, Titans
Khalil Wilkes, C
Khalil Wilkes, CRookie Minicamp Invite, Chargers
Usua Amanam, NB
Usua Amanam, NBUndrafted Free Agent

About Joseph Beyda

Joseph Beyda is the executive editor of The Stanford Daily. Previously he has worked as the football editor, a sports desk editor, the paper's summer managing editor and a beat reporter for football, baseball and women's soccer. He co-authored The Daily's recent football book, "Rags to Roses," and covered the soccer team's national title run for the New York Times. Joseph is a senior from Cupertino, Calif. majoring in Electrical Engineering. To contact him, please email jbeyda "at" stanford.edu.
  • class of 2016

    The Daily should NOT be using the name of the Washington DC football team. Many other publications are declining to use it, and I don’t see why the Daily wouldn’t follow suit.

  • maddogsfavsnpiks

    i agree with the class of 2016 – it’s long past due time to begin scraping residues of genocide, brutality and vicious oppression from all vestiges of our cultural icons and behaviour, unconscious or otherwise…

  • Courtney44

    Those who wish to change the Redskins name should argue without alleging that the name is deliberately or accidentally racist, an ethnic slur or offensive to all Native Americans. It is none of these. Placed in historical context, the term “redskins” was descriptive, not ethnic or racist in nature. The Eastern woodland Native Americans from 1679-1790 often used the color red to project strength, bravery or value. Warriors would paint their faces and chests with red ocher before battle to visually indicate and
    reinforce their courage.

    “Eighteenth-century records do attest the emergence of the use of the color terms red and white by Native Americans as racial designations, and the adoption of these terms by Europeans in eastern North America.” The first use of “red” in this manner was in 1725 by a Taensa chief talking to a French priest in Mobile, and this use of “red” was soon adopted in both French and English and was conventional by the 1750s. “Although Europeans sometimes used such expressions among themselves, they remained aware of the fact that this was originally and particularly a Native American usage.”

    “In 1769 three chiefs of the Piankashaws, a Miami-speaking people living on the
    lower Wabash River, sent to Lt. Col. John Wilkins four talks, written out for
    them in French, which were forwarded to London with translations and
    explanations of the translated terms “if any redskins” in one place and “all
    the redskins” in another.”

    The first appearances of “redskin” in English are as literal translations of standard French, which is a translation from a dialect of the Miami-Illinois language. The first recorded use of the term “redskins” as an identifier of Native Americans was by the Native Americans themselves to distinguish themselves from Europeans (“white”) and Africans (“black”). See
    the European Review of Native American Studies 19:2 2005, entitled “I AM A
    RED-SKIN”: The Adoption of a Native American Expression (1769–1826) by Ives Goddard.

    It wasn’t until the 20th century that our Western movie stereotypes, our own prejudices and societal guilt about them made “Redskins” a negative term. When the name was adopted in Boston in 1933, the owners explained their desire to honor Native Americans by reflecting their strength, resolve and courage in the team’s football players. The name was intended to be flattering, not insulting. Intent is important. I see no reason why the name cannot continue to be used, carefully and respectfully. Those who wish to change the Redskins name should argue their case without impugning the team and its various owners by suggesting that the current name is deliberately or accidentally racist, an ethnic slur or offensive to all Native Americans. It is none of these.