Stanford Cardinal Top NFL Prospects for 2012 and Beyond


Let’s not try and hide anything here–Andrew Luck is obviously the focal point of this post, but we also can’t kid ourselves by saying that the Stanford Cardinal are otherwise completely devoid of NFL talent. That would simply be fallacy, because Jim Harbaugh built a real winner at Stanford, and not just in terms of NFL prospects. Harbaugh turned this university around, and did such a great job that he earned the head coaching gig with the San Francisco 49ers.

Even without Harbaugh, the Cardinal are expected to be a force in 2011, and could contend for the BCS National Championship if they are going to get there, it will take a large effort from a QB prospect that is essentially being hyped like LeBron James was coming out of high school to the NBA.

12 Andrew Luck (RS Junior), QB, 6’4″ 235

Simply put, Luck is the prototypical quarterback prospect, and at least right now, is pretty much a lock to go first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has great vision, and probably the best accuracy of any quarterback to come along in a long, long time. This is a very smart player with great intangibles, and right now he is my leading candidate to win the Heisman trophy. Ideal size and arm strength, and this year, I just want to see him have that killer instinct. I have Stanford rated as the second team in the country right now, and I would love to see him compete for a national title. He had over 70 percent accuracy last year, and is coming from a pro-style offense. Luck is the Stanford single season touchdown record holder over the great John Elway. People are already heralding him as the next Peyton Manning, and this and that. No matter what he  turns out to be, it looks as though Luck will be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL someday not too far away, both on and off the field.

81 Chris Owusu (Senior), WR, 6’2″ 200

Missed six games due to injury in 2010, but is still one of the top playmakers in the Stanford offensive attack. Lanky receiver with solid speed and playmaking ability. What Owusu brings to the table is versatility. He has very good speed, and is one of the better kick returners possibly available in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has good vision with the ball in his hands, and his best game of the season came against Arizona. He showed as a sophomore in 2009 what kind of player he could be, and I think he will show in 2011 that he is one of the top playmakers in the Pac 12.

82 Coby Fleener (RS Senior), TE, 6’6″ 244

Get used to hearing this guy’s name, because you will be hearing it a lot in the coming months and years. Fleener is a big tight end prospect that reminds me physically of Tony Scheffler. He has imposing size and excellent speed for his size, and he really broke out as a junior with Stanford when he had 28 receptions for 434 yards and seven touchdowns, three of which came in Stanford’s big bowl game win over Virginia Tech. His numbers won’t exactly jump out at you other than his bowl performance, but this is a guy ready to emerge as one of the country’s top tight ends. His combination of size and speed are scary for opposing defenses. He can line up as an in-line tight end, or possibly also as a wide receiver in some packages. He will be a great red zone threat and a very good target for Andrew Luck in 2011.

55 Jonathan Martin (RS Junior), OL, 6’6″ 305

Big offensive tackle prospect who will undoubtedly be on the radar as one of the top finalist candidates for the Lombardi award, as well as on All-American radar. This is a guy whose game projects very well to the NFL level. He excels in both the running game as well as the passing game, where Stanford averaged over 211 yards rushing in 2010, and allowed the 2nd fewest amount of sacks in the nation. He is a big athletic guy with a ton of upside. The question is whether or not he will leave school early for the NFL Draft, and if he keeps this pace up, it might be hard to turn down the opportunity. He is already being regarded as a potential top 10 pick next year.

52 David DeCastro (RS Junior), OL, 6’5″ 310

One of the reasons Stanford’s offense is so successful in so many different ways is the play of its offensive line. In a way, Andrew Luck has been really spoiled as a quarterback with three All-Conference linemen in front of him. DeCastro is probably the top guard prospect heading into the 2011 season, and could play two more years at Stanford should he choose. Very talented run blocker, and also developing into an excellent pass protector. Will be an instant starter in the NFL.

26 Delano Howell (Senior), SS, 5’11” 198

One of the top safety prospects in the 2012 class of players. Howell combines solid speed with a compact build and excellent tackling ability. Part of a big resurgence in the defensive backfield at Stanford where he had 78 tackles as a sophomore along with two interceptions. As a junior, he tallied 60 tackles with five interceptions, and has forced a fumble every year he has played for Stanford. He has had a couple of minor injuries, but for the most part is a high effort player who is always around the ball. With Richard Sherman moving on to the NFL, Howell will be the leader of the Stanford secondary.

Stanford is a team that has two great components–a great quarterback, and a fantastic offensive line. Because of those two aspects alone, they should contend for a Pac 12 title this year, and could be BCS bound in 2011-12. They have a lot of solid NFL talent, and some guys who will contribute immediately in the league.