The state of Arizona has not exactly been a hotbed for NFL talent.
Since 2003, just five players with local ties — either having played college ball in the state or attending one of its high schools — have been selected in the first round.
Eleven draft classes. Five players.
In 2003, Terrell Suggs, who played for for Chandler Hamilton High School and then Arizona State, was selected tenth overall by the Baltimore Ravens.
Since then, he has gone on to accumulate 94.5 quarterback sacks, six Pro Bowl nods, one First-Team All-Pro honor and one Super Bowl ring.
Then in 2008, the University of Arizona’s Antoine Cason was taken by the San Diego Chargers 27th overall.
In six NFL seasons, Cason has tallied 257 combined tackles along with 14 interceptions. He spent 2013 with the Arizona Cardinals — collecting a pair of picks (one of which he returned for a touchdown) — and has since signed a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers.
The year 2011 saw a couple of local products among the first 32 players selected, though neither played for one of the state’s colleges.
Prince Amukamara attended Apollo High School in Glendale before playing collegiatly at Nebraska. The New York Giants selected him 19th overall, and after struggling with injuries his rookie year, has established himself as a productive cornerback. In three years, he has posted 152 combined tackles along with three interceptions.
Also taken that year was Cameron Jordan, who attended Chandler High School before moving on to California. The New Orleans Saints tabbed him with the 24th pick, and after a rookie year where he had just 31 combined tackles and one quarterback sack, Jordan has exploded for 114 total tackles and 20.5 sacks over the last two seasons.
Most recently, though, it was Dion Jordan who was taken in the first round. A Chandler High product who played for Chip Kelly at Oregon, Jordan was selected by the Miami Dolphins with the third overall pick in 2013.
Jordan’s rookie season was pretty nondescript, with him tallying just 26 total tackles and two quarterback sacks, and there have even been some rumblings about the team possibly looking to trade him.
Of course, this number is likely to grow by at least one Thursday night, as Taylor Lewan, who attended both Cactus Shadows and Chaparral High School before going to Michigan, is expected to hear his name called at some point in the evening.
Other AZ draft notes
According to ProFootballReference, 228 total draft picks have come from 98 different Arizona high schools.
Since 2003, 26 players from Arizona State University have been drafted, with the University of Arizona producing 22 and Northern Arizona University two.