It was a historic year with ABC7 airing the NFL Draft for the first time in the network's history, but it was also a big year for local college talent.
Six players combined from San Jose State University and Stanford University saw their NFL dreams become a reality throughout the weekend as they were drafted to play professional football.
In total, 19 players from the three Bay Area schools were picked up by NFL teams, six as draft picks, 11 as undrafted free-agents and two as rookie mini-camp signees.
RELATED: LIST: Top Bay Area college football prospects for NFL Draft
Here's all the guys who will begin their NFL careers soon.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Wide-Receiver
JJ Arcega-Whiteside was the first local star to go off the board when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 57th overall pick in the second round of the NFL draft. He will join forces with former Stanford Tight End, Zach Ertz, as another weapon for the Eagles offense. Arcega-Whiteside has the opportunity to be a very talented NFL receiver. In his senior year, he made the jump-ball his specialty in the end zone as he hauled in 14 touchdowns, tying a 41-year-old school record. Not to mention he was second in Stanford history with 28 career receiving touchdowns and third in school history with nine career 100-yard receiving games. Arcegea-Whiteside was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he did not participate in drills.
RELATED: Meet the Bay Area NFL Draft Prospects: Stanford Wide Receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside
Josh Oliver, Tight End
Josh Oliver was the top-rated NFL draft prospect for the San Jose State Spartans and he was the first and only Spartan off the board. Oliver was drafted with the 69th overall pick in the third round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. With his selection, he becomes the highest SJSU tight end drafted since 2001. The linebacker turned tight end turned heads his senior season while having one of the best seasons for a tight end in the NCAA. Oliver had the third most catches in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with 56 and fifth most yards among FBS tight ends with 709. Oliver was invited to participate in the 2019 Senior Bowl and the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
RELATED: Meet the Bay Area NFL Draft Prospects: San Jose State Tight End Josh Oliver
Bobby Okereke, Linebacker
Bobby Okereke became the second Stanford player drafted in the NFL Draft. With the 89th overall selection in the third round, the Indianapolis Colts drafted Okereke, pairing him up with former Stanford QB Andrew Luck on the Colts. Okereke is a linebacker that turned heads during every step of his journey. While at Stanford, he showed explosiveness and athleticism at the linebacker position as he totaled 240 tackles, 19 for a loss, 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He then took his talents to the Senior Bowl where he once again gained the attention of NFL talent evaluators. Okereke describes himself as a physical and athletic player, much like Jaylon Smith from the Dallas Cowboys. He believes his talents were recognized while competing during the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. His agent said he does not expect Okereke to make it past Day 2 and it turns out that he was right.
RELATED: Meet the NFL Draft Prospects: Stanford LB Bobby Okereke
Bryce Love, Running Back
Bryce Love said before the draft, that he was the best running back in his class. While he wasn't the first back drafted, he was still one of the highest picked local players. It wasn't until the 112th selection in the fourth round when we heard the Washington Redskins draft Love. He will be paired with first round Quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the Skins' backfield. His personal resume is basically a record book in itself. Some of his top honors came his junior season where he finished with the most yards in a single season by any Stanford running back with 2,118 yards. It was also the most of any of the Power 5 conference schools in 2017. This also helped the tandem of Love and Cameron Scarlett to finish as the top rushing tandem, with 2,507 yards, in school history. Love earned a Heisman Trophy finalist spot, he won the PAC-12 offensive player of the year award, named a unanimous All-American, won the Doak Walker and Lombardi Awards as well as countless other honors and awards. Should we continue? The Redskins are getting an immediate playmaker that is poised to shine at the next level.
RELATED: Meet the Bay Area NFL Draft Prospects: Stanford Running Back Bryce Love
Jake Bailey, Punter
Punters are people too and Jake Bailey proved that while at Stanford and with his draft position. Bailey will join the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots after being drafted 163rd overall in the fifth round. He was one of seven Cardinal to be invited to the NFL Combine. This was as a result of finishing first all-time in Stanford history with a 43.81 punting average. Bailey proved to be a weapon for Stanford as he pinned opponents inside the 20 on 76 occasions in his 52 career games. He also set the school mark for the longest punt at 84 yards in the Big Game against Cal his senior year. With Tom Brady still at the helm, he may not get many chances to punt, but a ring is a ring!
Kaden Smith, Tight End
Kaden Smith was one of the top tight-end prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. He gets to stay in the Bay Area after the San Francisco 49ers selected him with the 176th overall selection in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Smith joins a bunch of former Stanford stars on the 49ers including his old teammate, Solomon Thomas, as well as Richard Sherman. I guess it pays off to have a General Manager like John Lynch who also attended Stanford. He was recognized as a 2018 Mackey Award finalist, honoring the top tight-ends in college football. This came after two big years at Stanford in which he had 70 grabs for 1,049 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Smith leaves Stanford early, hoping to follow in the footsteps of a couple other Stanford great tight ends in Zach Ertz and Austin Hooper. Both Hooper and Ertz were Pro Bowl selections a season ago in the NFL. His 6'-5" frame and nose for the endzone made him an attractive prospect for the 49ers to pair with George Kittle.
RELATED: Stanford Football Pro Day becoming reunion of NFL stars and league brass
Ian Bunting, Tight End
Ian Bunting signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the Chicago Bears. Bunting joined the Cal football team for his graduate season after transferring from the University of Michigan. In his lone season for the Golden Bears, he played in 13 games for Cal and hauled in career highs with 18 catches for 195 receiving yards. He earned his bachelor's degree from Michigan in organizational studies. Bunting earned an invite to the 2019 NFLPA Bowl game alongside teammates Jordan Kunaszyk and Patrick Laird.
Jordan Kunaszyk, Inside Linebacker
Jordan Kunaszyk signed an undrafted free-agent contract for the Carolina Panthers. Kunaszyk was an energizer on the Cal defense. In his 34 games at Berkeley, he made 273 tackles to rank eight on Cal's all-time list. He totaled 148 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 5 forced fumbles in his senior year. This led to an invitation to the 2019 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Unfortunately, he was not invited to the NFL Combine but showed promising numbers at his pro day.
RELATED: Meet the Bay Area NFL Draft Prospects: Cal Linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk
Patrick Laird, Running Back
Patrick Laird signed a undrafted free-agent deal with the Miami Dolphins. Laird was nothing but a good Golden Bear on and off the field. On the field, he finished with a Cal record for running backs with 51 receptions his senior year. He also added 5 touchdowns and 2,761 all-purpose yards during his Cal career. Off the field, he worked to promote the benefits of reading by hosting the "Patrick Laird Summer Reading Challenge" and publishing a digital series called "#ReadWithPat". He too was not invited to the NFL Combine, but his three-cone drill performance would have been the best among his position. Laird suffered a broken clavicle in Cal's bowl game, but he says it has fully healed and he is ready to contribute at the next level.
RELATED: Meet the Bay Area NFL Draft Prospects: Cal Running Back Patrick Laird
Patrick Mekari, Offensive Lineman
Patrick Mekari signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Mekari was a talented Golden Bear, but saw his senior season end short due to an injury. This same injury kept him out of the team's bowl game and the 2019 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. However, he still received second-team All-PAC-12 honors from the Associated Press and was on the Outland Trophy watch list. The award recognizes the nation's top interior lineman on either side of the football.
Dakari Monroe, Cornerback
Dakari Monroe signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Monroe came to San Jose State from local Archbishop Mitty High School. The San Jose native was a first-team All-Mountain West selection in 2018 thanks to his four interceptions and 1.6 passes defended per game. Monroe led the team in interceptions in 2017 and 2018. Following his successful senior season, he played in the 2019 College Gridiron Showcase. Monroe was also a major contributor on special teams which helped him land a roster spot with KC.
Boogie Roberts, Defensive Lineman
Boogie Roberts signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Rams. Roberts was a leader on the SJSU Spartans football team on and off the field. Boogie was a three-season starter and steadily grew as a player every season. He was the first SJSU defensive lineman in the last 15 years to increase his total tackles by +50 from his freshman to sophomore seasons. In his senior campaign, he was credited with 49 tackles, the fourth most by a Mountain West defensive lineman. This helped Boogie receive an invitation to play in the 2019 Spiral Tropical All-Star game. Some see his 6'-2" stature as too short for the pro game, but he makes up for it with his heart.
Joey Alfieri, Linebacker
Joey Alfieri signed a free-agent deal to join forces with Arcega-Whiteside in Philadelphia with the Eagles. Alfieri appeared in 50 games for Stanford in his five years on the Farm. He finished with 165 tackles (89 solo), 26.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. In his senior season, the Portland, Ore. native had one heck of a homecoming as he had three tackles and a 80-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Oregon Ducks. It was his only score of his career. He followed in the footsteps of other Cardinal linebackers in the pros, like Shayne Skov, by grabbing a roster spot as an undrafted free-agent.
A.T. Hall, Offensive Tackle
A.T. Hall signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the Tennessee Titans. Hall came in with Brandon Fanaika and Jesse Burkett and left with them after five seasons at Stanford. His performance as a senior in 2017 earned him an All-PAC-12 honorable mention. That season, Hall paved the way for the Stanford running game to have a historic season. This includes against UCLA where Cardinal backs gained 405 yards on the ground, the fourth-most in school history.
Nate Herbig, Offensive Guard
Nate Herbig joined Arcega-Whiteside and Alfieri after he signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Afterall, Herbig has the perfect name for an offensive lineman. It does have "big" in it. The Hawaii native is 6'-4" and weighs in at 334 pounds. He has the size and strength to make an NFL roster and hear his name called during the draft. He had the slowest time of any player at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, but his power on the field is what NFL teams will look at when looking to select him. He has two PAC-12 All-academic honors to go along with his 2017 All-PAC-12 first team selection as well as an All-PAC-12 second team selection as a junior. He was a big-time prospect coming out of high school and he is a big-time prospect coming out of college.
Alijah Holder, Cornerback
Alijah Holder signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Denver Broncos under Stanford graduate and Broncos General Manager John Elway. Holder earned an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in 2019, one of seven Stanford players to do so. Injuries plagued Holder in his Senior season, but he still had plenty of production to make him a great piece on the corner for the Stanford defense. He had 132 career tackles in 37 games for the Cardinal, with 59 coming his senior year. He also has two interceptions, 28 passes defended, five forced fumbles and a touchdown during his five years on the Farm. He is a tall corner back with good speed that can stand up with some of the best talents the nation has to offer.
Trenton Irwin, Wide Receiver
Trenton Irwin will team-up with Cal rival, Patrick Laird, after they both signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Miami Dolphins. Irwin was a contributor to Stanford the moment he walked on campus in Palo Alto. From 2016-2018, Irwin had a catch in every single game he played for the Cardinal, only missing the final bowl game for the team. This impressive streak of receptions brought him to number ten on the Stanford all-time leader board with 152 career catches in 53 career games. Irwin is also a talented special teams players. He finished eighth all-time at Stanford in career punt return average with 10.45 yards per return. His sure hands and special teams abilities could help him earn a spot on the Dolphins 53-man roster.
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ROOKIE MINI-CAMP SIGNEES:
Jesse Burkett, Center
Jesse Burkett signed a deal that will allow him to participate as part of the San Francisco 49ers rookie mini-camps and possibly with the Jacksonville Jaguars as well. Burkett finished his fifth year on the Farm starting all 11 games he appeared in. He helped anchor an offensive line that protected Quarterback K.J. Costello who finished with the second-most passing yards in a season in Stanford history. He is also successful off the field. He is a four-time PAC-12 All-Academic team member and was a semifinalist for the nation's most prestigious and desirable "academic" award in college football, the William V. Campbell Trophy.
Brandon Fanaika, Offensive Guard
Brandon Fanaika too signed a deal that lands him in San Francisco for the 49ers rookie mini-camps alongside Burkett. Fanaika spent five years on the Farm where he started in 18 games and appeared in 47 total contests. 10 of the starts came his fifth year, where he helped Burkett and his other linemates protect for the Stanford passing attack and lead the way for top draft prospect Bryce Love. Fanaika was starting on the line in 2017 as Love set the single-game school rushing record with 301 yards against Arizona State.
Congratulations to all players drafted and best of luck at the next level!