The 2020 NFL Draft had three Cal Bears selected within its seven rounds, not a lot by all standards, but a contributing factor to the Pac-12’s third-place finish for most selections by a conference.
Still, if all goes to plan, there’s a better likelihood that the 2021 NFL Draft will hear more California Golden Bears drafted than 2020.
So, let’s count them down.
Elijah Hicks, CB/S
Camryn Bynum, CB/S
We’ll start with the locks first. These two are all but guaranteed to not only be draft picks but Day 1 or Day 2 guys at this stage. Add in what is expected to be positional versatility plus with their collective transition (Hicks full-time; Bynum part-time) to safety from mainly cornerback roles, and you’ve got two surefire starters at the NFL level.
Bynum is the ballhawk while Hicks is the cerebral defender who can fly all over the field with precision. These two are absolute locks to hear their names called no matter the outcome of the 2020 season but can see their stocks rise with great years this fall.
Chase Garbers, QB
A wildcard because it’ll remain to be seen if he declares or not for the draft. If he throws for 2,500 yards and runs for another 250+ yards on the ground, as unlikely as that may be in Bill Musgrave’s offense, you can bet Garbers will have to think long and hard about declaring for the draft. A full season with a clean bill of health will only surely expedite the decision to make the pro leap.
Luc Bequette, DI
Zeandae Johnson, DI
These two probably would have been drafted had they entered the draft this year but instead, Bequette and Johnson will grace the sidelines at Berkeley with another season of harassing quarterbacks. Adding in a few more pass-rushing moves to each of their arsenals will be key as well as shoring up their tackling skills on running backs but these two are definitely headed to the pros.
Kuony Deng, LB
Cameron Goode, Edge
Another two virtual locks to at least be on a team during the draft process. However, for these two, it’s just a matter of whether or not they land on Day 3 or as undrafted free agents. Big campaigns in filling the tackling void left by Evan Weaver will go a long way at deciding their fate in the NFL.
They both have all the skills in the world to do such a thing and Goode likely projects to more of a pass-rusher while Deng, if he tightens up missed tackles, as a true three-down linebacker. I like these two as Day 3 draftees with incredible upside in the right system.
Kekoa Crawford, WR
Nikko Remigio, WR
Christopher Brown Jr., RB
As impressive college players as they are, this trio needs to stay healthy and stay on the field to showcase their overall abilities for the next level. Brown’s pass-catching ability and burst likely see him drafted while Remigio needs to cut down on the drops. Crawford is the wildcard because he’s got all the NFL tools but needs to stay on the field. These are your potential late-round, total draftee busting numbers to watch.
Michael Saffell, OL
Valentino Daltoso, OL
Jake Curhan, OL
These three have as much of a chance to be drafted as anyone else, especially Curhan and Daltoso as we saw a bunch of teams reach up for tackles this past draft. It’s a highly sought after position of importance for so many offenses and that value could see these two drafted.
Saffell is another terrific option, especially considering the switch to Musgrave’s offense. If Saffell dominates like he did a year ago but in this new pro-style system, it’s no doubt he rockets up draft boards. Saffell is fringe Day 1 draft material if he has a terrific year.
Tevin Paul, Edge
Paul recorded just a few impact plays last season and will have to showcase plus-athleticism all over the field to hear his name called in the 2021 draft. He’d have to hope to get a combine invite and then put on an impressive workout in the process.
So there they are. That’s 14 total players. That’s one shy of LSU’s total number of players this past draft so it’s highly unlikely they all get drafted but they certainly represent potential draftable players.
If I had to project where each player is at this rate while hoping for a great 2020 season, it would look like the following:
Christopher Brown Jr.
Undrafted free agent signings
I’d put the over/under of Cal players to hear their names called at 6.5 (Utah had 7 this year for example). What are your thoughts?