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Stanford showing well in NFL draft's first three rounds

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Five Stanford players were gobbled up in the first two days of the NFL draft. Only Florida State (six) has had more players selected through the first three rounds.

Tackle Andrus Peat was the first off the board with the 15th pick of Thursday's first round (Jets). Safety Jordan Richards (No. 64, Patriots) followed in the second round. Alex Carter (No. 80, Lions), Henry Anderson (No. 93, Colts), and Ty Montgomery (No. 94, Packers) went in the third round.

Stanford's success throughout the first two days of the draft mirrors that of the Pac-12, which has had 25 players selected so far. That's the most of any conference -- three ahead of the SEC. Those numbers are just the latest indication of the league's rise, which has also manifested itself in recent out-of-conference and postseason success.

The selections of Richards and Carter are emblematic of the Stanford defense's development into an elite unit. Richards struggled through growing pains as a freshman in 2011, but both players grabbed the positive spotlight in 2012. Stanford's defense became the Pac-12's best that season, thanks in large part to the future NFL draftees that upgraded the team's speed in the secondary and allowed it to keep up with and defeat Oregon (Ed Reynolds, drafted by the Eagles last year, also emerged in that 2012 season).

Anderson reunites with former Stanford teammates Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, and Griff Whalen in Indianapolis, which remains a popular NFL destination for Cardinal alumni. He was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded college interior defender in 2014. The 6-foot-6, 294-pound Anderson also saw his biggest individual surge coincide with Stanford's 2012 success.

Both Peat and Carter follow in the footsteps of fathers who played in the NFL. Andrus has been known to frequently study the old game film of father Todd Peat and his contemporaries.

Montgomery is an intriguing match with quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Although he dropped his share of passes at Stanford, Montgomery showcased a potentially elite speed/power combination throughout his career. He was a running back in high school and played there a bit with the Cardinal on top of his primary returner and receiver duties. That versatility should serve Montgomery well, especially if he is used as a Swiss army knife-type of weapon in the Packers' offense. Rodgers is a proven surgeon at quarterback, a player who could unlock Montgomery's strengths.