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Stanford in the NFL: A look at the 2015 draft class

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Stanford football’s resurgence in the last decade has given the program several new traditions: major bowl games, conference championships and graduates playing for the Indianapolis Colts.

Henry Anderson ’15 and David Parry ’15 were the latest to make the move from Palo Alto to Indianapolis, where they have played their way into prominent positions on the Colts’ defensive line rotation.

Last year, Anderson and Parry were stalwarts for a Stanford defense that was one of the best in the nation. The Colts, who also play in a 3-4 base defense, are still recovering from a 41-7 defeat in the AFC Championship in which they surrendered 177 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Parry, a fifth-round selection, has impressed Colts head coach Chuck Pagano with strong play at nose tackle, a key position in the 3-4 scheme.

“He’s smart, he’s tough and he understands the scheme and he plays with really good technique,” Pagano said of the former Stanford walk-on.

Parry’s early successes have led to a competition with Josh Chapman for the starting nose tackle job. Both Parry and Chapman have taken first-team reps in practice and in the Colts’ preseason games against the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears.

Santa Clara, CA - December 30, 2014: 2014 Foster Farms Bowl between the Stanford Cardinal and the Maryland Terrapins at Levi's Stadium.  Stanford defeated Maryland 45-21.
Nose tackle David Parry ’15 (center) has found his way onto the Indianapolis Colts’ roster after being selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Parry has drawn praise from head coach Chuck Pagano and will compete for the starting job at nose tackle. (BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Anderson, the Colts’ third-round pick, faces tough competition for playing time behind returning starter Arthur Jones and free-agent signing Kendall Langford.

During training camp, Anderson has displayed the same qualities that made him a defensive force for the Cardinal. His 6-foot-6, 300-pound frame makes him a two-gapping monster who can shore up the Colts’ run defense, while his agility and heavy hands allow him to rush the passer from the interior. Anderson replaced the injured Jones in the Colts’ preseason game against the Bears, leading all defensive linemen with 26 snaps played.

While Anderson and Parry may become key parts of a playoff-bound Colts defense, the team’s success will be driven by Andrew Luck ’12, Coby Fleener ’12 and a newly-upgraded offense. Luck’s arsenal of weapons now includes wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore, who recently referred to his quarterback as a “coordinator on the field” and “a football god.”

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 15, 2014: Ty Montgomery during Stanford's game against Utah. The Utes defeated the Cardinal 20-17 in overtime.
As a result of Jordy Nelson’s season-ending knee injury, Ty Montgomery ’15 (left) figures to receive much more attention as an option in the Green Bay Packers’ receiving corps. The receiver and return specialist has featured primarily as a slot receiver in the preseason. (JIM SHORIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Although Indianapolis is the hub of Stanford’s Graduate School of Football, Cardinal rookies across the league are pushing for roster spots and playing time on Sundays.

Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery ’15 will be one of the main beneficiaries of Jordy Nelson’s season-ending knee injury, which likely moves Montgomery into the third wide receiver slot behind Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Montgomery, who many NFL scouts compared to Cobb, featured primarily as a slot receiver in Green Bay’s preseason game against the Eagles, catching two passes for 71 yards.

While Montgomery was a productive receiver for the Cardinal, he was perhaps more valuable as a kick returner, and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has acknowledged the difficulty the team has had in employing all of the skills that the versatile rookie provides.

“This guy’s workload has been off the chart,” he said. “I’m going to take a hard look at it because he needs to be a contributor on special teams and he also needs to get ready for offense.”

Andrus Peat ‘15, the New Orleans Saints’ first-round pick, will likely start the season in an unfamiliar position: the bench. Saints GM Mickey Loomis employs the “best player available” drafting strategy, picking the top player on the board regardless of position. Unfortunately for Peat, this means sitting behind emerging star Terron Armstead and dependable veteran Zach Strief.

Peat has spent the preseason on both the left side, where he played his entire high-school and college careers, and the right side, a position he will need to master in order to become the Saints’ swing tackle. While he remains the Saints’ tackle of the future, Peat’s first playing opportunities will come as an injury replacement or in 6-lineman jumbo packages.

Like Peat, Jordan Richards ’15 is behind entrenched starters on the depth chart, but the Patriots’ second-round selection has impressed the normally-unflappable Bill Belichick with his keen football instincts.

“Jordan’s a really sharp kid,” Belichick said. “He’s very into football, has a very good understanding of the game.”

Although Richards is unlikely to displace starting safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, his awareness has been on display on special teams, where he has recorded eight tackles and recovered a fumble.

Contact Sanjay Srinivas at ssri16 ‘at’ stanford.edu.