Yes, Colorado is a part of the NFL Draft
Did you know?
Since everyone is glued to the NFL Draft — 15.6 million people watched the first round on Thursday night, a 37% increase over last year, according to CBSSports.com — here’s some fun Colorado draft trivia.
The Centennial State ain’t Florida, Texas or California when it comes to producing NFL players, but …
Local boy makes good
The only player from Eagle County’s schools to be drafted was Battle Mountain’s Jeff Campbell, who went as a fifth-rounder to the Detroit Lions in 1990. Campbell, Class of 1986, led the Huskies to their lone state-championship game appearance in 1985, a loss to Roaring Fork on a late 2-point conversion. (Remember, CHSAA football had no overtime procedures back then.)
Campbell went on to play at Colorado, where the Bill McCartney-led Buffs turned things around in the old Big 8 Conference. In Campbell’s senior year — 1989 — CU won the Big 8, toppling Oklahoma and Nebraska in consecutive weeks. The Buffs finished the season 11-1 with only an Orange Bowl loss to Notre Dame and ended up ranked No. 4 in the polls.
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Campbell stuck with the Lions for a few seasons before his final year in 1994 with the “hometown” Denver Broncos.
We’re No. 1
Colorado has actually had the No. 1 pick in the draft … back in 1956. The Pittsburgh Steelers took Gary Glick, a halfback and defensive back out of LaPorte High School and Colorado State.
The old LaPorte High School is located outside of Fort Collings and was eventually consolidated into what we know now as Poudre. Glick played seven years with the Steelers, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Colts and the San Diego Chargers.
Byron “Whizzer” White has to be the state’s greatest football legend. After Wellington High School and a star-studded career at Colorado — the Buffs went undefeated during the regular season in 1937, losing to Rice in the Cotton Bowl — White led the NFL in rushing twice (1938 with Pittsburgh and 1940 with Detroit).
World War II and academics cut short his playing career, which is probably just as well. He went on to become a Supreme Court Justice from 1962-1993.
Christian McCaffrey, via Valor Christian and Stanford, is likely the most prominent Colorado product in the NFL currently. Like the aforementioned White, McCaffrey was a runner-up for the Heisman in 2015 and declared for the draft after his junior year.
The Carolina Panthers took McCaffrey No. 8 in the 2017 draft, and McCaffrey is one the best rushers in the league. Carolina just signed him to a four-year, $64 million extension during the offseason.
Welcome to Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers were expansion brothers in 1995. The Jags used their first draft pick, No. 2 in 1995, to take Tony Boselli out of Southern Cal and Fairview High School.
Boselli, an offensive tackle, was part of Jacksonville’s early success — the Jaguars upset the Broncos in the playoffs after the 1996 season on the way to the AFC Championship Game — and is on the Hall of Fame ballot annually.
Watch out, Roger
The Dallas Cowboys took quarterback Clint Longley as the first pick in 1974 NFL Supplemental Draft. Having attended Littleton High School and Abilene Christian, Longley is best known for two moments.
As a rookie, he came off the bench to rally the Cowboys to win over the Washington Redskins in a 1974 Thanksgiving game. In training camp in 1976, he instigated a locker-room fight with fellow quarterback Roger Staubach, an incident that sent Longley’s career spiraling.
The Denver Broncos looked in their own backyard last year for offensive-line help by taking Dalton Risner, Wiggins and Kansas State, with a second-round pick. Risner’s been a solid addition to that unit.
And, sometimes, you don’t need to be drafted. Phillip Lindsey went to Denver South and CU, but never got a phone call from the NFL. So he went the free-agent route, making it with Denver before the 2018 season and is now a fan favorite in Broncos Nation.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.