Stanford's stout D 

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
12:00
PM ET

At 4-0, Stanford is off to another strong start and currently ranked fifth in the AP poll. Starting in the Jim Harbaugh era and carried on by current head coach David Shaw, the Cardinal have developed and sustained a program with core values based on discipline and toughness. This has been an underlying factor in their rise from one of the worst programs in the country in 2006 to their sustained success in which they've put together a 43-10 overall record in the past four years. It's all led to them being legit national championship contenders this season. Assuming Shaw stays at Stanford, the future looks bright because he and his staff have done a great job of evaluating players who are tailored to the Cardinal's identity while upgrading the overall talent level with their recruiting.

As it has been in past years, the Cardinal defense is once again an area of strength. Like the Stanford defenses we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, this unit plays with a physical and relentless edge, continuity and collectively has a high FBI (football intelligence) to be able to give multiple looks within their scheme.

Despite all the recent success on this side of the ball, the Cardinal haven't been as productive when it comes to manufacturing NFL draft picks. In fact, Stanford has had only three players selected in the past six drafts: CB Richard Sherman (Seattle) and DT Sione Fua (Carolina) were picked in the third round in 2011, while DE Erik Lorig (Tampa Bay) was a fifth-round selection in 2010.