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Football: Bears to join NFL draft party late

The NFL draft begins with the first round Thursday, then the second and third rounds on Friday.

On Saturday, when players are selected in the fourth through seventh rounds, Cal will check in.

The first first time since 2006, the Golden Bears are not expected to have a player selected in the first three rounds of the draft. Only twice since 1996 — in ’04 and ’06 — has Cal been shut out of the first three rounds.

Here’s a look at Cal’s draft prospects and when they are projected to be chosen:

BRENDAN BIGELOW, RB: Bigelow’s career was a long tease that rarely produced eye-catching results. The exception was a spectaculr four-carry, 160-yard game with two long touchdowns at Ohio State in 2012. That fueled a sophomore campaign in which Bigelow averaged 9.1 yards per carry on 44 attempts. But he never developed any consistency or gained the confidence of two different coaching staffs. Bigelow averaged 4.0 yards per carry last fall while struggling a bit after the latest in a series of knee surgeries. The 22-year-old Fresno native couldn’t even help himself at Cal’s Pro Day, running a 4.41 hand-timed 40 while struggling with a tweaked hamstring. Projection: Free agent.

DEANDRE COLEMAN, DT: The 6-5, 309-pounder from Seattle had a steady, unspectacular career for the Bears. He had 40 tackles, including nine for losses, as a senior. Coleman totaled 7.5 career sacks. The 23-year-old participated in the postseason Senior Bowl all-star game. Projection: Rounds 5-7.

VINCENZO D’AMATO, PK: Cal has a history of sending kickers to the NFL — Doug Brien, Ryan Longwell, Mick Luckhurst, Ray Wersching — and D’Amato has a chance. He converted 17 of 20 field goals last season, and 40 of 55 for his career. He also made 92 of 96 PAT attempts and scored 212 career points. The 6-1, 250-pounder from Orange County seems likely to get a camp invite. Projection: Free agent.

KHAIRI FORTT, ILB: The 6-2, 240-pounder from Massachusetts had 64 tackles last fall in his only Cal season after transferring from Penn State. The 22-year-old performed well at the NFL combine, boosting his stock after Cal’s poor season. NFL scout Greg Cosell said on KNBR this week he likes what he saw while watching tape of Fortt, calling him a fairly complete linebacker prospect. Projection: Rounds 4-6.

KAM JACKSON, CB: You have to wonder why Jackson, still just 20 years old, decided it was time to turn pro, because it seems unlikely he will be drafted. He hasn’t wowed anyone with his 5-9, 175-pound frame and he had a somewhat ordinary junior season with 42 tackles, six pass breakups and just one interception. Jackson’s big game at Cal was a three-pick performance against UCLA in 2012. Cal could have used him next fall and he might have helped himself by playing another college season. Projection: Free agent.

CHRIS McCAIN, DE/OLB: At 6-6, 250, McCain looks the part. But he was erratic through his career at Cal, partly because he struggled academically. He started 18 games, played in 24 and totaled 90 tackles, including 14.5 for loss and 5.0 sacks. But four games into last season, the 22-year-old from Greensboro, N.C., was dismissed from the team for conduct detrimental to the team. Someone may look at his measureables and decide McCain is worth a try. If that happens, it’ll be up to him. Projection: Free agent.

VILIAMI MOALA, DT: The 6-2, 315-pounder from Sacramento entered the draft after his junior season, during which he started in 11 of 12 games and had a career-high 37 tackles. The 21-year-old played 35 career games for the Bears. Projection: Free agent.

RICHARD RODGERS, TE: Displaced from his natural position last season because the Bears’ offense doesn’t use a tight end, the 6-4, 257-pound Rodgers caught 39 passes for 608 yards as a slot receiver. The 22-year-old somewhat relucantly was briefly used as a power back — an experiment that was unsuccessful and short-lived. NFL scouts apparently have some questions about Rodgers’ blocking skills. Projection: Rounds 6-7.

Jeff Faraudo

  • Larry

    I didn’t realize that VINCENZO D’AMATO, was 6-1, 250-pounder. They should have put him at line backer and not place kicker!

    “KHAIRI FORTT, ILB: The 6-2, 240-pounder from Massachusetts…” Wasn’t Fortt from Connecticut and Rogers from Massachusetts?

    Sad draft weekend for Cal. All of the underclassmen should have stayed for their senior season.

  • Rollonubears

    Fortt, Rodgers and probably Colemen will each go higher than expected. Everyone will be “shocked” and then they will all turn out to be awesome pros. More NFL talent, wasted as Bears.