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College Hotline: NFL Draft preview of top Bay Area prospects

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The Bay Area will show well in the NFL Draft, particularly in the early rounds, but don’t expect Stanford and Cal to dominate the selections.

The Cardinal has two first-round locks in defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and running back Christian McCaffrey, but they could very well constitute the entirety of the team’s draft class.

Cal has one early-round pick in Davis Webb, considered the best of the second tier of quarterbacks.

(A second Golden Bear, receiver Chad Hansen, seems destined for the middle rounds.)

The remainder of the Bay Area’s representation at the top of the seven-round draft likely will come from prospects who went to college elsewhere.

Here are the best guesses for the top local players:

Stanford DL Solomon Thomas
Projection: Top 10
Comment: Could go as high as No. 2 (to the 49ers) or as low as No. 9 (to the Bengals). Plenty of teams at the top need help on the defensive front.

Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Projection: Top 20
Comment: Numerous mock drafts have McCaffrey as the No. 8 pick (to Carolina), but a jump into the top six and a slide into the teens are both possible:

Washington CB Kevin King (Oakland)
Projection: Mid-to-late first round
Comment: Didn’t receive as much hype as UW backfield-mates Sidney Jones and Budda Baker, but plenty of teams are in the market for tall, long-armed cornerbacks, including Seattle.

UCLA OLB Takkarist McKinley (Richmond)
Late first round
Pass rushers are coveted, even ones with surgically-repaired shoulders. The Colts could grab McKinley (No. 15), but he probably won’t last past the late-20s.

Cal QB Davis Webb
Projection: Late-first/early-second round
Comment: Don’t be surprised if a team looking to groom a replacement for its 30-something starter (i.e., Arizona, New Orleans) grabs Webb late in the first.

Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie (San Jose)
Projection: Early second round
Comment: Best asset from NFL perspective could be his versatility: Can play outside or in the slot. That nickel ability translates to a long list of possible suitors.

Cal WR Chad Hansen
Projection: Fourth/fifth round.
Comment: Not an elite athlete at position of moderate value. That said, it only takes one team to turn fifth-round projections into third-round reality.

*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

*** The Hotline podcast is available on iTunes.


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