First-round NFL draft picks from Utah universities

Published: Saturday, April 30 2011 10:51 a.m. MDT

Associated Press
The three big football universities in the state -- Utah, Utah State, and BYU -- have all sent exceptional players to the NFL. Often these athletes started out as late-round draft fodder or unselected cast-offs (or chose to sign with a different league, like Steve Young). But what about the players that actually got chosen in the first round? There are more of them than you might think. Here's the full list of all first-round Utah college alumni, in chronological order.
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IDblue&white
Rigby, ID

I'm guessing that "NFL" draft is operative here, considering Steve Young isn't in this list? As I recall he was initially drafted by the USFL before playing for the NFL's 49'ers. Still, I would have thought someone of his magnitude would have ranked at least a mention or explanation.

Layton Shumway

@IDblue&white: You're quite correct; Steve Young bypassed the NFL to sign with the USFL's Los Angeles Express. When that league folded, he went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers through the NFL Supplemental Draft (where he was the first player chosen) before landing with the Niners. This list was specifically for NFL Draft first-rounders, but Young does merit a mention. Thanks!

Steve Jensen
Herriman, UT

No Detmer? No Collie? Really?

Texas Coog Fan
Provo, Utah

No Jimmy Mac as #1?

Silent Lurker
Cottonwood Heights, UT

How is it that some here do not understand the words "NFL first round"?

Layton Shumway

Yup, NFL first-round selections only, listed in chronological order (not ranked in any way). Collie was a fourth-rounder, and Detmer went in the ninth round.

flynn is the coolest
Salt Lake City, UT

Unfortunately, Alex Smith's first round, first overall was the most impressive stat he's put up. In hindsight, I, and the 49erS franchise would take Steve Young over Smith in a heartbeat.

TMung99
Bluffdale, Utah

As a 49er fan, it pains me everyday that we have "small hands" Smith on our team, hopefully Colin can step up and kick out the biggest 1st pick bust since Ryan Leaf

cowboy99
South Jordan, UT

Actually Leaf got pick #2 in his draft. So Smith actually is the biggest #1 bust.

Tyler
Holladay, UT

I think Jamarcus Russell is worse. At least Smith is still playing.

OU812
Layton, UT

Not to mention, in line to be the starting QB again.

Hoosier in Utah
Spanish Fork, UT

cowboy99 is correct, Leaf was #2. Being from Indy, I remember the situation well. The options were: take the exciting Leaf who had put up spectacular numbers his senior year, or go with some son of a quarterback that was consistently good but had forgone the draft after his senior year. He had a solid if not particularly noteworthy senior year after that. But then, maybe you've heard of Peyton Manning.

Anyway, the Colts were 3-13 the year he was drafted. The year after? Also 3-13. Thankfully it only got better from there.

scooph
Elk Grove, CA

What about Trevor Matich (1985)?

  • 2:55 p.m. April 30, 2011
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Where's Stockton ???
Bowling Green, OH

Interesting to know that Lee Grosscup played at Utah. I remember him as a broadcaster. Even though Orin Olson wasn't a first round Daft pick... just want to point out that he was from BYU and not the Aggies. I did get to see McCarther Lane Play for the Utes. My coach at Payson Jim Durrant... a former good Ute Offensive guard would take a few of us to see some of those Ute home games. He always had a few extra sources for tickets. Steve Young more than likely would have gone in the 1st round of the NFl...but who in their right mind would turn down an 8 year contract for 300 million.
I have a couple of questions on a couploe of Aggies. So if some of those Aggie fans out there know...

What round did Running Back Roy Shivers go to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966...and also Line backer Henry King the same year and for which team???

Layton Shumway

@scooph: You're right! I left out Matich, the starting center for BYU's national championship team. He's in there now. Thanks!

Where's Stockton ???
Bowling Green, OH

Layton...You need to mention Aggies runningback Roy Shivers. Read his Wikipedia file. He came to Utah State from out of the the Army in 64 and was also a supplemental No. 1 in 66 to the Cardinals... so you need to mention him as well. I'm a Cougar fan but Roy was my counselor at Boy's State so I know you missed him.

Layton Shumway

@Where's Stockton: The sources I can find list the Supplemental Draft as an extension of the main NFL Draft. By that reckoning, Shivers was selected in the 19th round overall (264th pick). That definitely doesn't fit the parameters of this list. Thanks!

BluCoug
Provo, UT

It's official, of all the former BYU pictures, they have more Super Bowl rings then the utes and Aggies combined. I am counting 10 Super Bowl Rings owned by Cougars! Way to go Cougars!

Where's Stockton ???
Bowling Green, OH

Well Aggies... I tried to get you one more and lost.... But Regardless Shivers was a great Aggie Player...and so was Henry King who went to the Raiders.

Where's Stockton ???
Bowling Green, OH

Layton... I'll concede... just to avoid an argument. However that 264th pick number is really meaningless in Shiver's case. Unlike the one and out rule that we have today you had to prove hardship in those years to vacate any of your scholarship before the NFL would allow you to be considered and you weren't put with the regular draft picks like these early leavers are today. But if you do some research on Shivers you'll find that his was a extreme hardship case for the supplemental draft. Had he stayed and finished out his Junior and Senior Years at USU he would have probly been rated similar to a Bo Jackson or a Hershal Walker. His signing bonus with the Cards was way up there for the times and easily near the same Level as Joe Naimath's with the Jets... and for sure above most of the true 1st rounders of that year. I don't really think you know just how good he was.

flynn is the coolest
Salt Lake City, UT

So is Merlin Olsen so low because it was so long ago? My dad always talks about how great he was- he has the Pro-Bowl appearances to prove it too.

Incidentally, I don't really understand what the ranking system is here- it must be based on recent and exciting picks out of Utah, and the order has nothing to do with NFL merits. I know that many on this list belong there, but how about an article about athletes that played college ball in Utah, and actually did something in the NFL, and rank it accordingly. Putting Smith as #1 does nothing but conjure images of mediocrity.

Layton Shumway

You're probably right...I wasn't alive when he was drafted, so I will have to take your word for it. That's probably worth another list or article -- athletes that took alternative routes to professional leagues, like Shivers or Steve Young.

In any case, appreciate the comments.

KamUte
South Jordan, UT

Give Alex a stable team and he would blossom. Even the beloved Steve Young stunk before at the Express and Tampa before being placed in a stable environment where he learned from Joe Montana. Steve ran for his life the first 3 years of his career. He rarely played played and when he did, he had three all pro line linemen blocking and had great backs and receivers and tight ends and a tenured system. Alex has nothing around him. Football is a team sport. No team around Alex.

AK Cougar
Palmer, AK

Where is Shawn Knight #11 in the 1985 draft?

George Q's Aide-de-Camp
North Logan, Utah

And what about Jason Buck who was also drafted in the first round of 1987?

skitter
Orem, UT

You forgot to mention Shawn Knight and Jason Buck in the 87 draft. Knight was plagued by injuries and busted, but Buck went on to play in 2 super bowls, winning one of them.

Humm??
Tropic, UT

Notice that between 1962 and 1970 all first rounders were from ut. State? That was how dominate Ut. State was at that time - until Utah and BYU conspired to keep them out of the new WAC.

FYI
Taylorsville, UT

@flynn is the coolest
"So is Merlin Olsen so low because it was so long ago?" Yes that is exactly right. This isn't a ranking list. The article states that it is in chronological order.

jarka-rus
Layton, Utah

KamUte:
"No team around Alex." I agree with you on the point that you do need a team and good O-line in football to be successful, but to say Smith has had nobody around him is just not true, Gore is a really good RB, almost 900 yds last season, Davis is one of the best TEs in the league, Crabtree and Ginn are young and have potential. So if he could just make the right reads he could be a lot better, Its not all on the team. He's been in the league how long now! At some point its not his teams fault. Smith in the first 5 games last season threw 9 Int's, that is not good, I don't blame that all on his team.

Te Amo
Salt Lake City, UT

Why is it that the majority of people who comment here don't seem to understand the english language? Is it the school system in the last four or five generations or some kind of stupid sickness that spreads like cancer? What do you think? Anyone have any good reasonble answers? I mean it's so obvious, there has to be a reason.......

idablu
Idaho Falls, ID

Alex Smith was nothing short of sensational as a college QB. And I am no Utah fan. He had the whole package and deserved to be #1 overall. I still think he shows glimpses of brilliance on occasion with the 49ers. I think his day will come.

reggieaggie
Logan, ut

No Chris Cooley, Kevin Curtis, Eric Hipple, hmmmmm, and Merlin Olsen on the bottom of the list. Wow Oh this is Deseret News.

UteFan01
Sandy, UT

The article is about first round NFL draft picks.. not eventual draft picks.

ClassyUte
SOUTH JORDAN, UT

I don't think even Steve Young would have done great in the situation alex was put in. Steve might have done better, but he still had a different o-coordinator every year he's played, a horrible shoulder injury (which he was undeservingly heckled for), and a mediocre (at best) o-line his whole career. I don't think anyone could have thrived under those conditions...

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