With the NFL Draft coming up tomorrow, we take a look at how all of the player drafted since Kyle Whittingham became Utah's head coach have faired in the NFL, also included are any undrafted free agents that are still on NFL rosters. There are currently 25 former Utes on NFL rosters, 23 of which played for Utah when Whittingham was the head coach. 21 Utes have been drafted since the 2006 NFL Draft, three of which have made the Pro Bowl at least once in their career and one who was selected in the first round.
The 2014 Draft saw two former Utes selected, with cornerback Keith McGill going in the 4th round pick 116 to the Oakland Raiders and outside linebacker Trevor Reilly going in the 7th round pick 233 to the New York Jets. Utah also had undrafted free agents Anthony Denham make the Texans roster as a tight end, Jake Murphy make the Cincinnati Bengals as a tight end, and Tenny Palepoi make the San Diego Chargers as a defensive tackle. McGill had the most productive rookie season as he recovered a fumble and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos. He also recorded nine tackles and one pass defended in his first season in Oakland. Reilly posted 15 tackles for the Jets. Palepoi had 16 total tackles and four stuffs for the Chargers. Neither Denham nor Murphy have recorded any stats in the NFL so far in their careers.
The 2013 Draft saw two former Utes get drafted, highlight by defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who was selected in the 1st round pick 14 by the Carolina Panthers. Defensive end Joe Kruger was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 7th round pick 212. Center Sam Brenner was also picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins. Lotulelei was named to multiple 2013 NFL rookie teams. In his two seasons in the NFL, he has started 29 games and played in 30 games. He has recorded 67 tackles, 12 stuffs, and 5.0 sacks in his career. He is a key piece of Carolina's defense. Kruger has bounced around the NFL. He missed all of the 2013 season with an injury and was released by the Eagles. He has since spent time on the Chargers, Packers, and Steelers (his current team) practice squads. He has not recorded any statistics in his career. Brenner has appeared in seven games and started four in his career. Wide receiver Reggie Dunn is currently a member of the Dallas Cowboys and has bounced around between practice squads. He has not recorded any statistics in the NFL.
Only offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom was drafted in the 2012 Draft for Utah. He was selected by the Raiders in the 3rd round pick 95 (the Raiders first selection in the 2012 Draft). Bergstrom has not appeared in any games for the Raiders. While he was a tackle for his whole career at Utah, he is listed as a guard with the Raiders. Defensive end Derrick Shelby was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins. In three seasons in the NFL, Shelby has recorded 68 tackles, 5.5 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Defensive end Tevita Finau is currently a member of the Houston Texans. He has bounced around between practice squads since going undrafted and has not recorded any statistics.
In the 2011 Draft, two former Utes were selected. Cornerback Brandon Burton was selected in the 5th round pick 139 by the Minnesota Vikings. Offensive guard Caleb Schlauderaff was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 6th round 179th overall. Neither player is currently listed on an NFL roster. Burton spent time on the Vikings and Bills rosters before bouncing between several practice squads. He recorded 14 tackles and had one pass defended. Schlauderaff spent several seasons with the Jets before being released. He played in six games and started one. Running back Matt Asiata was went undrafted but was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings (he was subsequently released before the 2011 season and resigned before the 2012 season). In his career, Asiata has 211 carries for 745 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 50 receptions for 327 yards one touchdown. Much of Asiata's career stats came in the 2014 season. Sealver Siliga was also picked up as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers before landing with the Denver Broncos. He is now a member of the New England Patriots and was a starter on their Super Bowl XLIX winning team. In his career, he has 56 tackles, one forced fumble, and 5.5 sacks.
Six former Utes were selected in the 2010 Draft. Linebacker Koa Misi was selected in the 2nd round 40th overall by the Miami Dolphins. Offensive lineman Zane Beadles was selected in the 2nd round pick 45 by the Denver Broncos. Safety Robert Johnson was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the 5th round pick 148. Wide receiver David Reed was selected in the 5th round 156th overall by the Baltimore Ravens. Linebacker Stephenson Sylvester was selected in the 5th round pick 166 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cornerback R.J. Stanford was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the 7th round 223rd overall. Misi has played his whole career with the Dolphins. In his five seasons in the NFL, Misi has recorded 260 tackles, 12.0 sacks, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles (including one for a touchdown), and 10 passes defended. Beadles made the Pro Bowl in 2012 as a member of the Denver Broncos. He now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has appeared in 79 games in his five year career, starting 77 of them. Johnson played for the Titans for three years before being waived and has not appeared in the NFL since. In his career, he recorded 19 tackles, one interception, and one pass defended. Reed played four seasons in the NFL. His first three for the Ravens and his last for the Colts. He recorded six career receptions for 68 yards. Reed was also a dangerous return man, totaling 1,740 total return yards in his career, including a franchise record 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as a member of the Ravens. He was a member of the Ravens Super Bowl XLVII Champion team. Sylvester spent four seasons with the Steelers and was listed on the injured reserve for the 2014 season as a member of the Bills. Sylvester has 34 career tackles. Stanford is currently a member of the Miami Dolphins. He has spent time with the Panthers, Dolphins, and Bengals. In his career, he has 51 tackles, two interceptions, and three passes defended.
The 2009 Draft saw four former Utes selected. Outside linebacker Paul Kruger was selected in the 2nd round 57th overall by the Baltimore Ravens. Cornerback Sean Smith was selected by the Miami Dolphins with the 61st pick in the 2nd round. Cornerback Brice McCain was selected by the Houston Texans in the 6th round pick 188. Wide receiver Freddie Brown was selected in the 7th round pick 252 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Kruger has played for the Ravens and Browns. In his six NFL seasons, Kruger has recorded 169 tackles, 31.0 sacks, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and two interceptions. He was a key piece of the Ravens Super Bowl XLVII Champion team. Smith has played for the Dolphins and Chiefs. In his six year NFL career, Smith has 307 tackles, eight interceptions, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and 71 passes defended. McCain has spent time with the Texans, Steelers, and Dolphins. In his six NFL seasons, McCain has recorded 149 tackles, eight interceptions, one fumble recovery, 0.5 sacks, two touchdowns, and 39 passes defended. Brown spent time on the Bengals and Vikings practice squads and did not record any NFL statistics.
No Utah players were drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft.
The 2007 NFL Draft featured two former Utes, both of whom have made the Pro Bowl. Safety Eric Weddle was selected in the 2nd round 37th overall by the San Diego Chargers. Defensive tackle Paul Soliai was selected in the 4th round pick 108 by the Miami Dolphins. Weddle is one of the best safeties in the NFL. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2011, 2013, and 2014. He was named a First-Team All-Pro in 2011 and 2014 and a Second-Team All-Pro in 2010, 2012, and 2013. His seven interceptions in 2011 led the NFL. In eight NFL seasons, Weddle has recorded 772 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 19 interceptions, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, four touchdowns, and 65 passes defended. Soliai made the Pro Bowl in 2011 as a member of the Dolphins. He currently plays for the Falcons. In his eight years in the NFL, Soliai has recorded 189 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 29 stuffs, and 12 passes defended.
The first draft the of the Whittingham coaching era featured two former Utes getting drafted. Both went in the 7th round back-to-back and both were drafted by the Tennessee Titans. Linebacker Spencer Toone was drafted with pick 245, and running back Quinton Ganther was selected with pick 246. Toone did not record any statistics in his one season in the NFL. Ganther had a modestly productive career, which was spent on Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins,Seattle Seahawks, and the Buffalo Bills. His final season in the NFL was 2010. He recorded 220 rushing yards (4.2 yards per carry) and three touchdowns in his career.
The only former Utes still in the NFL that were drafted before Whittingham became head coach are Alex Smith, who was the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, and Steve Smith Sr., who was drafted in the 3rd round pick 74 by the Carolina Panthers in the 2001 NFL Draft.