San Jose State Spartans' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

Written by:
February 24, 2022
Doug Pensinger // Getty Images

San Jose State Spartans' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

While most colleges and universities field a football team as part of its general athletics program, there are some for which football is more than merely a sport—it’s akin almost to a religion. Devotion to the team and its colors is as important to that school’s culture as a religious icon is to a believer. These programs actively scout and recruit notable high school players, and are in turn rigorously applied to by matriculating seniors eager to make a name for themselves at the collegiate level.

Among the most notable college football empires are Notre Dame, the universities of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State—the list goes on and on.

But for every touchstone football school, there is an outlier that has produced some of the most successful and cherished players in the game. Think Jackson State, which gave us “Sweetness” himself, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Or Mississippi Valley State, which yielded 3-time Super Bowl champion and #1 Player in NFL History, as voted by the NFL Network, ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Each year, the college draft serves as a source of renewal to professional football and a testament to the quality of college programs nationwide. With the 2022 NFL draft set to take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks from the San Jose State Spartans using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Ed Luther (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #101 overall in 1980
- Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#19. Gerald Small (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #93 overall in 1978
- Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#18. Chris Owens (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #90 overall in 2009
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#17. David Loverne (G)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #90 overall in 1999
- Drafted by: NY Jets
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#16. Frank Manumaleuga (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #85 overall in 1979
- Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#15. Brian Roche (TE)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #81 overall in 1996
- Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#14. James Jones (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #78 overall in 2007
- Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Josh Oliver (TE)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #69 overall in 2019
- Drafted by: Jacksonville Jaguars
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#12. Rick Kane (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #69 overall in 1977
- Drafted by: Detroit Lions
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#11. Jarron Gilbert (DT)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #68 overall in 2009
- Drafted by: Chicago Bears
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#10. Sean Brewer (TE)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #66 overall in 2001
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#9. Stacey Bailey (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #63 overall in 1982
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#8. Jewerl Thomas (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #58 overall in 1980
- Drafted by: Los Angeles Rams
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#7. Eric Richardson (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #41 overall in 1984
- Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#6. Gill Byrd (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #22 overall in 1983
- Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 10 (2 Pro Bowls)

#5. Gerald Willhite (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #21 overall in 1982
- Drafted by: Denver Broncos
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#4. Wilson Faumuina (DT)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #20 overall in 1977
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#3. Kim Bokamper (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #19 overall in 1976
- Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
- Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (1 Pro Bowls)

#2. Louis Wright (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #17 overall in 1975
- Drafted by: Denver Broncos
- Years as a starter in NFL: 12 (5 Pro Bowls)

#1. Mark Nichols (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #16 overall in 1981
- Drafted by: Detroit Lions
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

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