The California Golden Bears in the Pros continue to kill it in the League according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). There are four former Golden Bears among their 50 top NFL players heading into the 2019 season—tied for first for programs with the most representation on the list.
The first player on the list is Mitchell Schwartz, coming in at 48th; PFF recognizes Schwartz for his pass-blocking and consistency in particular last year. The offensive lineman was on campus from 2006–2011, starting every possible one of the 51 games (back to that consistency) and earning All-Conference honors academically and for his performance.
Next up is #34—Keenan Allen; the receiver has been stellar over the past two years and deemed “prototypical” for his route-running and “feel for coverages”. From 2010–2012, Allen embarrassed Pac-12 defenses while setting Cal records (such as all-time receptions and once holding the record for longest pass)
Breaking into the top 20, we start with Aaron Rodgers (namesake of the Aaron Rodgers Football Scholarship) at #17. Rodgers still made the list despite being hampered by an injury in 2018, particularly for his commitment to protect the football. Spending 2003 and 2004 in the blue and gold, Rodgers led Cal to an overtime win over USC (no longer our latest win over them) and like Schwartz, showed early signs of what would become his NFL strength—setting a school record for lowest interception percentage.
Immediately after Rodgers is DE/edge rusher Cameron Jordan. (Because I’m a petty MFer, let’s once again shout out that stellar Oregon State fansite that called one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers a bench-warmer.) PFF particularly notes that Jordan has been underrated despite three exceptional years at the position. Jordan called Memorial Stadium his home from 2007–2010, playing in 50 of 51 games,was named to All-Conference and All-American teams, and rocked the best Gumby flat top.
Interestingly, the one season that had the most of these Bears together was 2010—when the Bears went 5–7 for Jeff Tedford’s first losing season. What a perfect way to capture the perplexing phenomenon of Cal players excelling in the NFL, despite the program failing to truly make a splash in the college game.
Looking on the bright side, it’s always fantastic to see these Bears excel at the highest level and represent the school. Congrats to these four Golden Bears!