Just how good was Kansas’ secondary during the Orange Bowl season of 2007? Two of the members appeared in the Pro Bowl last season, raising the number to three the number of KU defensive backs who have played in the NFL All-Star game.
Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, along with free safety Darrell Stuckey, are part of this list, Kansas players with the best NFL careers that started sometime in the past 15 seasons.
The upcoming NFL Draft could include Kansas players such as linebacker Ben Heeney and cornerback JaCorey Shepherd. Their goal: Have careers like these former Jayhawks:
1. Chris Harris
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An undrafted free-agent signing of the Broncos in 2011, Harris had an immediate impact and was named the team’s top defensive player as a rookie. He’s been a Pro Bowler and was named second-team All-Pro in 2014. He’s in the same Denver secondary as former Kansas teammate….
2. Aqib Tailb
The Orange Bowl MVP is a two-time Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro selection in 2013. Talib was a first-round selection (No. 20 overall) of the Buccaneers in 2008 and played two seasons with the Patriots before moving to Denver last season. Legal and conduct issues have also dogged Talib throughout his career, including a suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.
3. Darrell Stuckey
A Chargers safety since they drafted him in the fourth round in 2010, Stuckey has been a valued member of the special teams. He’s been the special-teams captain for the past three years and earned a spot on last season’s Pro Bowl roster.
4. Justin Hartwig
One of the top players of the Terry Allen era, Hartwig was a three-year starter at offensive tackle before he selected in the sixth round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. His best years came in Pittsburgh, where Hartwig won a Super Bowl ring as the Steelers’ starting center.
5. Moran Norris
Norris didn’t accumulate big numbers in his 11-year career that began in 2001 after the Saints made him a fourth-round pick, but he was a durable fullback and tight end. Norris appeared in 140 NFL games, starting 58 for the Saints, Texans, 49ers (twice) and Lions.