Although Florida dwarfed all other states, California’s total of four ex-high schoolers going in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft is a little better than average.
The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s status as a growing power in California football gained more traction when three former high school players from the section were chosen in Thursday’s opening round of the NFL Draft.
There was only one other player from outside of the Sac-Joaquin that was chosen on Thursday to give the state an overall total of four.
California’s all-time best total of eight first-round picks wasn’t approached, but it was tied by Florida when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (who went to the University of Louisville but is from a Miami high school) was chosen with the final pick of the night at No. 32 by the Minnesota Vikings.
Two other states that also had four first-round picks were Texas and Georgia.
The Sac-Joaquin Section has never had three first-round picks in a single NFL draft before. In 1983, there were two and both were quarterbacks – Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien.
Here is a closer look at the four first-rounders from this year:
9. Anthony Barr (Loyola, Los Angeles, Calif.) DE by Minnesota
A former running back in high school, Barr has emerged as a pass-rushing end from the edge. The UCLA standout also was the first player off the board this year from the Pac-12. One of his most memorable games came as a senior when he almost led the Cubs to an upset of Concord De La Salle.
20. Brandin Cooks (Lincoln, Stockton, Calif.) WR by New Orleans
He blew up as a big-time recruit in the spring of his junior year after he was named MVP for receivers at the NorCal Nike Football Training Camp. He’s the second No. 1 pick in the last three years from Stockton, following Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin in 2012. Lincoln had the No. 23 pick in the first round in 1994 when Shante Carver (Arizona State) went to the Dallas Cowboys. That also was the year when the state had eight picks in the first round.
25. Jason Verrett (Rodriguez, Fairfield, Calif.) CB by San Diego
This could be our favorite journey of any first-rounder since Verrett didn’t go to a four-year college after high school. Instead, he went to Santa Rosa Junior College, then to TCU. You’d think he was another one of those Texas standouts who stayed close to home, but not the case.
27. Deone Bucannon (Vanden, Fairfield, Calif.) DB by Arizona
Yes, the town of Fairfield and Solano County gets two first-rounders. LB Desmond Bishop of Fairfield High and DB Jarrett Bush from Will C. Wood of Vacaville are two current players from the county in the NFL. It wasn’t too long ago, either, when Cameron Jordan of Fairfield was a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints.
Attention young athletes: To check out info and to sign up for the first-ever Cal-Hi Sports/Gold Medal Excellence All-Sports Speed Camp and All-State Football Combine, CLICK HERE for June 14 event in Tracy or CLICK HERE for June 22 event in Bakersfield.