Though they have not been a power in some time, Colorado University was once known as a dominant force in college football. The recent road has been a tough one, but Colorado has managed to turn out a lot of talent throughout the years.
Here are the 10 names that have come from Colorado to make an impact on the NFL. Learn how to bet on Colorado football next season here.
Cliff Branch, WR (1970-1972)
Cliff Branch was more known during his time at Colorado for his track and field exploits. As a matter of fact, he only had five touchdowns combined over the course of the 1970 and 1971 seasons. So, how does he land on the list of the greatest NFL players to come from Colorado?
Being a three-time Super Bowl champion, three-time First-Team All-Pro, and four-time Pro Bowler helps. He also led the league in receiving touchdowns (twice) and yards (once), establishing himself as a dynamic receiver in the NFL.
Cliff Branch pic.twitter.com/ggsirpzCjI
— Jose Guzman, Jr. (he/him/his) (@jangelguzman_) August 21, 2023
David Bakhtiari, OT (2009-2012)
Despite being the 109th player taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, Bakhtiari has managed to carve out a great career in the NFL. He has been with the Packers for all 11 seasons of his career, providing protection for Aaron Rodgers.
Bakhtiari has a trio of Pro Bowl selections, three Second-Team All-Pro nods, and a pair of First-Team All-Pro selections. He is as good as you can be as an offensive tackle in the NFL. And he’s not done yet.
First of all, we’re not gonna trade David, so let’s just get that out of the way.” pic.twitter.com/ZzdcCI5n6d
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) August 18, 2023
Chad Brown, LB (1989-1993)
The four-year starter at Colorado went on to have a very productive professional career. Selected with the 44th overall pick in 1993, Brown went to a Pittsburgh Steelers team that had carved out a reputation for defensive dominance.
Brown did not disappoint, earning accolades in both Pittsburgh and with the Seattle Seahawks. He was a two-time First-Team All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowler, and PFWA All-Rookie Team member over 14 years in the NFL.
The Steelers defense was nicknamed "Blitzburgh" in the 90s. Pictured from left to right are linebackers Greg Lloyd, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland, and Kevin Greene. pic.twitter.com/xOt23oqPA2
— Billy Hartford (@BudDupreeFan) January 24, 2023
Mark Haynes, DB (1977-1980)
Haynes had an impressive career at Colorado, become easily one of the best Colorado Buffaloes football players of all time. His play earned him enough recognition to become the 8th pick in the 1980 NFL Draft, going to the New York Giants.
Over 10 years in the NFL, Haynes managed to become a quality player. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (1982-1984), earning a pair of First-Team All-Pro odds during that span. With 17 career interceptions, it goes to show that quarterbacks would prefer not to throw at him at all.
— The Giant Take Podcast (@TheGiantTakePod) August 6, 2022
Dick Anderson, DB (1964-1968)
Anderson, a College Football Hall of Famer, had a great college career but it would pale in comparison to his professional achievements. The 73rd pick in the 1968 NFL Draft, Anderson would spend 10 great years as a member of the Miami Dolphins.
In that time, he won two Super Bowls, was named AFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1968, NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1973, made three Pro Bowls, was named Second-Team All-Pro in 1974 and managed a pair of First-Team All-Pro nods sandwiched around his second-team honor. He was so good during his stint in Miami that he was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1970s.
3️⃣ Dolphins teammates understood the trio's choice. Dick Anderson empathized: "You can only take so much beating." Despite disappointment, their move wasn't seen as disloyalty but rather a practical decision for their careers. 🏈🤝 #TeamUnderstanding pic.twitter.com/AYBb6tCRKR
— Checkdown Charlies 🏈🐬 (@CheckDCharlies) August 15, 2023
Frank Clarke, WR (1954-1956)
Like Branch, Clarke was a track star when he joined the Buffaloes. He was also a pioneer, becoming the first African-American varsity football player to play for Colorado. He was great as a collegiate standout, parlaying his success into becoming the 61st pick in the 1956 NFL Draft.
Across 11 seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys, Clarke would have flashes of brilliance. He led the league in receiving touchdowns in 1962 and managed First-Team All-Pro honors in 1964. With almost 300 catches and over 5,400 yards, Clarke was a big play waiting to happen.
— Healthy Water Plano (@PlanoWater) July 27, 2018
Andre Gurode, G (1998-2001)
Gurode came around just as it seemed like the Buffs were returning to prominence. He started all four years in Boulder, playing both guard and center. His diverse skills got him picked by the Dallas Cowboys 37th overall in the 2002 draft.
Gurode would become a staple on the Cowboys for eight years. During that time, he made five straight Pro Bowls (2006-2010), earning Second-Team All-Pro honors in 2009. There have been plenty of great Dallas Cowboys offensive linemen, but Gurode deserves more discussion than he gets. A truly underrated gem during a time when the Cowboys were not as successful as they had once been.
— /🍽/DoughGoesIn (@DoughGoesIn) July 4, 2022
Boyd Dowler, WR (1955-1959)
Dowler is one of the oldest names on the list but his time in the NFL became impactful enough to be remembered on this list. He was picked 25th overall in 1959, which was a third-round pick then. Today, it would be good enough to land him in the first round.
Dowler would spend 11 seasons in Green Bay, becoming a key contributor to a Green Bay Packers dynasty. Dowler would make the Pro Bowl twice, helping the Packers to a whopping five NFL championships and victories in the first two Super Bowls.
Stan Brock, OT (1976-1980)
Brock was a stud at Colorado, winning the John Mack Award and earning All-American honors as a senior. That was good enough to make him the 12th overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft to the New Orleans Saints.
He would spend 12 years with the Saints, giving the franchise quality pass protection year in and year out. He would need to leave town, however, before reaching a Super Bowl. He did so with the Chargers in a losing effort to the 49ers in 1994.
#ttmsuccess from Boyd Dowler! 1/1 and took 10 days this is now my oldest signed football card in my PC! Thanks again @oriolesrise @pintandrew @AlexK245 @StarrsCards @ThanksToTroops @autographblog @TimJenkins1962 @pfomaru @DOCBZ17 @WatchTheBreaks @WaxPack916 @GundersonNathan pic.twitter.com/beRihxP4g6
— TommyToon23 (@tommys54321) September 30, 2020
Kordell Stewart, QB (1991-1995)
The man dubbed “Slash” carved out a career as one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the program at Colorado University. He parlayed that into being a second-round pick, 60th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Though his lone individual accolade is a 2001 Pro Bowl appearance, it cannot be properly conveyed what kind of player Stewart was. He could run and throw with the best of them, leading the Steelers offensively before injuries and inconsistency eventually derailed his career.
— Mile High Matt (@MileHighMatt12) August 23, 2023
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