FAIRFIELD — If predictions hold, Jason Verrett will be the second player in city history taken in the first round of an NFL Draft.
The former Rodriguez High standout has been tabbed to go in the middle to late in the first round of this year’s draft, which starts Thursday.
If he does, he’ll join Armijo High graduate Doug Martin, who went in the first round with the ninth overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings in 1980.
Where Martin was highly touted coming out of high school and played for the University of Washington before spending nine seasons with the Vikings, Verrett’s route to prominence was more circuitous.
Verrett didn’t get any scholarship offers out of high school and was switched from running back/slot receiver to cornerback by Santa Rosa Junior College.
After a year with the Bear Cubs, Verrett put in three solid seasons at Texas Christian, ranking as one of the top shutdown corners in the nation over the last two.
“All I can do is wait for the phone call,” said Verrett, who flew out earlier this week to be at Radio City Music Hall in New York for the draft. “There’s nothing I can do to control it.”
The next highest draft pick was Rodriguez grad James-Michael Johnson, who was taken in the fourth round (120th overall) by the Cleveland Browns in 2012 and spent last season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Vanden’s Deone Bucannon figures to go earlier than the fourth round after his four standout seasons at Washington State made him one of the top strong safeties in this year’s draft.
Most mock drafts have the former Viking going in the second round, though some have him going as early as late in the first round, while others have him dropping to the third round.
“First round, second round, I’m just happy for the opportunity,” Bucannon said. “That’s how I truly feel. Each and every moment of the draft, I’ll wait for my name to be called. I’m not going to be mad (having to wait). I’m going be happy because I’ll be given an opportunity – whatever round, whatever team, whatever pick it is, I’m excited about it.”
Another area player expected to be drafted is Marcel Jensen of Rodriguez, who became a standout tight end at Fresno State after playing just one season with the Mustangs. Mock drafts have Jensen going as high as the fifth round, but most likely in the seventh.
As for where he think he’ll he go, Jensen said, “I have no clue, honestly. I know it’ll be the third day at some point. It’s not something I’m really concerned about. I’m just blessed and excited about the opportunity I’m going to receive because there’s lot of people out there who would love to be in my position.”
Desmond Bishop was the earliest graduate of Fairfield High selected, going in the sixth round (193rd overall) to the Green Bay Packers in 2007 after playing two seasons for California. After several seasons as a reserve, Bishop worked his way into the starting lineup at middle linebacker and recovered a fumble during the Packers’ 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.
An injury forced Bishop to miss all of the 2012 season and led to him being waived by Green Bay. He then signed with Minnesota and got into four games with the Vikings before being sidelined the rest of the season with another injury.
Bishop’s former Fairfield teammate, Quinton Ganther, went in the seventh round (246th overall) to the Tennessee Titans after two seasons with Utah. Serving as a backup running back and special teams specialist, Ganther played parts of five seasons with the Titans, Bills, Redskins and Seahawks.
Going in the seventh round two years later was Rodriguez grad Stevie Johnson, the 224th overall selection in 2008 after two seasons at Kentucky by the Buffalo Bills, for whom he has played 76 games with 58 starts. He’s the first player in franchise history with three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, though last year he was limited to 12 games by injuries.
The only former Vanden player drafted into the NFL was Carter Campbell, taken in the eighth round (191st overall) by the San Francisco 49ers in 1970.
Campbell got into one game with the 49ers before playing in 42 games with the Denver Broncos over the next three seasons.
The city players with the longest NFL career was Armijo grad George Martin, Doug’s older brother, who taken in the 11th round (262nd overall) by the New York Giants after playing three years for Oregon and got into 201 games (113 starts) over 14 seasons.
Martin sacked John Elway of the Denver Broncos for a safety in the Giants’39-20 victory in Super Bowl XXI and scored seven defensive touchdowns during his career.
He later spent 2 1/2 years as president of the NFL Alumni Association.
Rudy Sylvan, who played high school football for both Vanden and Armijo, was signed as a free agent by Detroit in 2007 and got into three games with the Lions.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.