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March 19, 2014

Stanford Pro Day Primer

One of the best recruiting classes in Stanford football history will have its time in the spotlight at tomorrow's Pro Day. Televised by ESPN3, the Pro Day will feature 14 former Cardinal football players who will go through a variety of athletic and strength tests in front of NFL scouts. The timing portion of Pro Day begins at 11:15 A.M. and is open to the public.

Here's a look at the 14 Stanford players who are expected to participate.

Devon Carrington

Top Stanford Moment: No one knew it at the time, but Carrington's hustle to prevent Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota from scoring on a 77-yard run in the first quarter was a game-changer. Stanford's defense forced a turnover on downs a few plays later, and the Cardinal emerged with the upset victory in overtime.

Draft Projection*: Undrafted

Kevin Danser

Top Stanford Moment: Linemen aren't generally in the individual spotlight as often as their peers at other positions, but Danser's rise from one of the most lightly recruited scholarship linemen Stanford has signed in the past five years to two-year starter and all-conference selection helped solidify Stanford's offensive line as one of the best in the conference.

Draft Projection: Undrafted

Tyler Gaffney

Top Stanford Moment: The entire 2013 season was essentially Gaffney's top moment in a Cardinal uniform. But his 69-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the Pac-12 title game was a play Stanford fans will remember for a long time. And though it came in a loss, Gaffney's 34-yard touchdown run at USC was one of the best individual efforts by a Stanford player in 2013.

Draft Projection: Late-round pick

Ben Gardner

Top Stanford Moment: Gardner's goalline stop against the hometown in Wisconsin Badgers saved a touchdown for the Cardinal, and helped lift Stanford to a Rose Bowl victory. Gardner's punt block and return against Arizona State in 2013 was another highlight, as was Gardner earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2013 despite missing the final six games of the year (including the Rose Bowl). The recognition was a sign of the respect Gardner had earned from the rest of the conference throughout his five seasons on The Farm.

Draft Projection: Mid-to-late-round pick

Ryan Hewitt

Top Stanford Moment: Though Hewitt's production in the passing game decreased in his redshirt junior and redshirt senior years, he was the team's third-leading receiver in 2011. Hewitt caught a touchdown pass in the Cardinal's epic triple-overtime win at USC, and scored a pair of receiving touchdowns in Stanford's win over Colorado that same season.

Draft Projection: Late round

Cameron Fleming

Top Stanford Moment: Fleming didn't receive as much publicity as some of his more heralded offensive line counterparts during his Stanford career, but he was an anchor on the right side for three seasons. Along with David Yankey, Fleming was in the starting lineup when the Cardinal amassed a school-record 446 rushing yards against Washington in 2011.

Draft Projection: Mid-round pick

Jarek Lancaster

Top Stanford Moment: Along with A.J. Tarpley, Lancaster rose to the occasion in 2011 when the departure of Owen Marecic and an injury to Shayne Skov forced Stanford to lean on its young inside linebackers. As a starter for most of the year, Lancaster led Stanford in tackles with 70 and also chipped in 7.5 tackles for loss. And though his playing time on defense was more limited in 2012 and 2013, Lancaster was consistently one of Stanford's top special teams cover players.

Draft Projection: Undrafted

Josh Mauro

Top Stanford Moment: Mauro didn't receive a ton of playing time in his first three seasons on The Farm, but exploded as a legitimate NFL prospect in his redshirt junior and redshirt senior campaigns. Some of Mauro's numerous memorably plays in a Cardinal uniform include a perfectly-timed tackle for loss in last year's Rose Bowl, deflecting Stanford's game-saving interception in the Rose Bowl, and a 25-yard interception return against Arizona State early in the 2013 season. Mauro finished third on the Cardinal in tackles for loss in 2013.

Draft Projection: Mid-round pick

Trent Mruphy

Top Stanford Moment: Murphy led the nation in sacks as a senior, so there are plenty of candidates. His two interception returns for touchdown (against Washington as a redshirt junior and Washington State as a redshirt senior), demolition of Matt Barkley in the 2012 USC game, and 2.5 sacks (3.5 tackles for loss) in a tightly-contested win at Oregon State in 2013 are among his lengthy list of career highlights.

Draft Projection: Second round

Ed Reynolds

Top Stanford Moment: Reynolds' interception and lengthy return off of Brett Hundley completely changed the course of the 2012 Pac-12 title game. At the time, Stanford trailed 14-7 and the Bruins were driving in Stanford territory. But Reynolds read Hundley perfectly and picked off the touted UCLA signal caller, returning the pass all the way to the Bruin one-yard-line. Stepfan Taylor scored on the next play, keying Stanford's return to Pasadena.

Draft Projection: Mid-round pick

Shayne Skov

Top Stanford Moment: There are too many to list. Skov's 12-tackle, 3-sack, 5 TFL performance against Virginia Tech in the 2011 Orange Bowl will go down as one of the best in Stanford's postseason history. Skov won National Player of the Week honors after Stanford's win over Oregon in 2013. But Skov's perfectly timed leaping stop might have been the most memorably single play of Skov's five years on The Farm. The play was a perfect representation of the attitude and efficiency Skov helped bring to the Cardinal's defense over the past few seasons.

Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd round

Anthony Wilkerson

Top Stanford Moment: Wilkerson was never Stanford's featured back, but the Southern California native still managed to put together a very solid career on The Farm. Touchdown runs against UCLA in the last game of the 2012 regular season and Notre Dame in the final game of the 2013 campaign were critical scores for the Cardinal. Wilkerson's best individual performance was against Washington in 2011 when he gained a career-high 93 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns.

Draft Projection: Undrafted

Khalil Wilkes

Top Stanford Moment: Wilkes' miraculous fumble recovery in overtime at Oregon in 2012 led directly to Jordan Williamson's game-winning field goal. The New Jersey native was a two-year starter for the Cardinal, moving to center in 2013 after starting at left guard in 2012.

Draft Projection: Undrafted

David Yankey

Top Stanford Moment: Yankey's presence helped ensure that Stanford's offensive line was able to remain a strength of the team after the departure of Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro in 2011. The Georgia native helped key Stanford's continued success in the run game, and his versatility (Yankey played left tackle in 2012 and left guard in 2013) was a major asset to the Cardinal offense.

Draft Projection: Late 1st - 2nd

Storylines to Watch

For the players who didn't participate in last month's NFL Combine, tomorrow represents their first and likely only opportunity for a pre-draft workout on such a big stage. For the Cardinal's combine participants, Pro Day will provide an opportunity to improve on testing results from last month and to answer any lingering questions from the combine.

Here's a look a few of the individual storylines we'll be tracking tomorrow.

Jarek Lancaster could surprise: A special teams ace for much of his career on The Farm, Lancaster has been buried behind the likes of Shayne Skov and A.J. Tarpley for the last two seasons. However, he did lead the team in tackles in 2011, and is regarded as one of the team's more athletic linebackers. Lancaster is expected to test very well in a number of areas.

Gardner's return: Gardner missed the NFL Combine as he continued to recover from the torn pectoral muscle that sidelined him for the last few games of the 2013 season. Now that he's healthy, he'll have a chance to back up his tremendously productive college career by showing scouts that he has the strength and athleticism needed to flourish at the next level.

Opportunity for Wilkerson: Though he was never the dominant runner some expected him to be at the college level, Wilkerson's size/speed combination is impressive. A strong performance at Pro Day could help at least help Wilkerson earn an invite to an NFL team's training camp.

What will the combine participants do?: By and large, the eight Stanford players who participated in the NFL combine achieved positive results. But will any decide to retest at Pro Day, and in which events?0

*Draft projections are primarily based on mock drafts from several websites.

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