Meet the Bay Area NFL Draft Prospects: Cal Running Back Patrick Laird

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- As the eyes of the sports world turn to the 2019 NFL Draft, ABC7 is introducing you to some of the best of the best on Bay Area college football rosters.

FULL LIST: Top Bay Area college football prospects for NFL Draft

37 players from Cal, San Jose State and Stanford all eagerly await the chance for their names to be called, thus making them a professional football player.

This includes Cal running back Patrick Laird.

From walk-on to Cal star, Laird was a difference maker on and off the field for the California Golden Bears.

RELATED: NFL Draft 2019: Watch full coverage on ABC7

He was voted the team's Most Valuable Offensive Player award for the production he had in his senior season.

His record-setting 2018 included 961 rush yards and nearly 300 receiving yards for a team-high 1,249 all-purpose yards.

Where he found his name in the record books came in the air, as he set a Cal record with 51 catches for the team.

Laird's season came to an unfortunate end in the team's bowl game where he broke his clavicle.

His best statistical season came in 2017, where he set most of his offensive career high marks.

This included 1,127 rush yards, eight rushing touchdowns and a total of 1,449 all-purpose yards.

He also matched a mark set by Bay Area native Marshawn Lynch.

Laird became the first Cal player since Beastmode to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back Big Games against rival Stanford.

While his success on the field was noticeable, it may have been the injury that kept him from receiving an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine.

This made the Pro Day for the running back his one and only chance to run the field drills in front of NFL coaches and scouts.

"So basically my pro day was the time that I could showcase my athletic ability," Laird said. "Some teams put more weight in those drills than others. But every team has my tape. They like my tape but the pro day was a way to come in and show my athletic ability and how it stacks up against everyone else."

It may have been a pressure packed scenario for some, but not Laird.

He caught the eye of evaluators with a blazing time on his 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill. They would have been the fastest among running backs at the combine.

After the Pro Day, Laird, alongside other local Bay Area football stars, competed in the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders local pro days to work out with the individual teams.

Still, Laird is just focused on what he can control.

For as successful as he was on the field in Berkeley, his work off the field is where he continued to make a difference.

If you ever watched a Cal Football game, when Laird scored, he celebrated by making a hand gesture as if to be opening a book.

He saw the importance of making sure kids were reading in and out of school.

Laird created the "Patrick Laird Summer Reading Challenge", with winners receiving tickets to a Cal game.

In addition, he published a digital series of "#ReadWithPat" videos featuring Cal Football Head Coach Justin Wilcox, Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton, best-selling author Michael Lewis and UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ.

He believes the work off the field is just as important as the work on the field.

Laird made his mark at Cal, now he looks to continue that in the NFL.

His agents tell him many teams consider him a late-round selection or possibly an unrestricted free-agent once the 7 rounds of the draft end.

One thing is for sure, when the time comes, you know Laird will be looking to make a difference any way he can.

"It would be nice if a team selected me," Laird said. "But whatever happens, I'll be happy with the opportunity that I get. Either way, if I get drafted, or I'm a priority free agent, you still have to show up. There's a lot of guys that get drafted and they don't play. Some guys don't get drafted and they end up playing. So it's all about what you do when you show up."

Follow along with ABC7 Sports Anchors Larry Beil and Mindi Bach as well as Community Journalist Dustin Dorsey for updates throughout the NFL Draft.


Round 1: Thursday Apr. 25, 2019 - 5:00 p.m. PST

Rounds 2 & 3: Friday Apr. 26, 2019 - 4:00 p.m. PST

Rounds 4-7: Saturday Apr. 27, 2019 - 9:00 a.m. PST
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