Thanks to a superb Senior Bowl performance and an equally impressive NFL Combine, Chris Lindstrom is projected to become the first Boston College football prospect picked in the opening round of the NFL Draft since Luke Kuechly in 2012. While Lindstrom’s selection would end the Eagles’ seven-year first-round drought, the program is hardly new to the Day One spotlight. In fact, nine other BC players have been selected in the first round since 2000. In the spirit of this year’s draft, here’s a trip down memory lane.
1. Luke Kuechly LB – Carolina Panthers
9th Overall Pick, 2012
In just three years at BC, Kuechly racked up 532 tackles—the most in program history—all while becoming a two-time All-American. During his junior season, he led the country with 191 tackles and picked off three passes, en route to earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Since, Kuechly has been crowned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2012), NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2013), and a five-time First Team All Pro.
2. Anthony Castonzo OT – Indianapolis Colts
22nd Overall Pick, 2011
As soon as Anthony Castonzo arrived at BC, he made an impact, becoming the first true freshman to start on the Eagles’ O-Line in 10 years. He made a home for himself in the trenches, starting 54 games for the Eagles, blocking for the likes of Matt Ryan and Montel Harris. Castonzo has spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Indianapolis, starting 116 games in the process.
3. B.J. Raji DT – Green Bay Packers
9th Overall Pick, 2009
B.J. Raji anchored a BC D-Line that allowed just 91.2 rushing yards per game in 2008. In his final year on the Heights, the 6-foot-1, 322-pound Raji recorded 42 tackles—14 of which were behind the line of scrimmage—and 7.5 sacks. Although Raji only played seven seasons in the NFL, he still made his mark on the game. The former Packer is perhaps best known for taking a Caleb Hanie interception to the house in fourth quarter of the 2011 NFC Championship, effectively setting the stage for Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV victory.
4. Gosder Cherilus OT – Detroit Lions
17th Overall Pick, 2008
Sometimes forgotten because of the guy below him on this list, Gosder Cherilus—like Castonzo—was a staple of BC’s offensive line during his four-year career. After redshirting his freshman season, he earned a starting job and never looked back. As a redshirt senior, Cherilus served as a team captain alongside Ryan, helping the Eagles post 323.9 passing yards per game. Cherilus was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but come 2013 was playing tackle opposite to Costanzo in Indianapolis. He retired after a stint with Tampa Bay in 2017.
5. Matt Ryan QB – Atlanta Falcons
3rd Overall Pick, 2008
At the moment, Ryan is the posterboy for BC football. His storybook collegiate career was bookended by a magical 2007 season, one in which he threw for 4,507 yards and 31 touchdowns. Ryan led BC to a No. 2 ranking by midseason, famously executing a fourth-quarter comeback in Blacksburg, Va., to knock off No. 9 Virginia Tech. He’s had even more success in the NFL, making Super Bowl LI and winning league MVP in 2016.
6. Mathias Kiwanuka DE – New York Giants
32nd Overall Pick, 2006
Mathias Kiwanuka is the most explosive defensive end to ever wear a BC uniform. He still ranks as the program’s leader in both sacks and tackles for loss. It isn’t close, either. The 2004 Big East Player of the Year tallied 37.5 sacks and 64.5 TFLs. To put that in perspective, Harold Landry ranks second on both lists with 26 sacks and 47.5 TFLs. Kiwanuka played his entire NFL career with the New York Giants, winning two Super Bowls during the Tom Coughlin era.
7. Marc Colombo OT – Chicago Bears
29th Overall Pick, 2002
It took a while for Marc Colombo to poke his way into the starting lineup, but when he finally got the nod as a redshirt junior, he was a force to be reckoned with. The offensive tackle was part of an O-Line that gave up just six sacks in 2000 and helped pave the way for both of William Green’s 1,000-plus yard rushing seasons. Colombo was drafted by the Bears, but, because of a host of injuries, wasn’t himself until he landed in Dallas, where he played the bulk of his NFL career.
8. William Green RB – Cleveland Browns
16th Overall Pick, 2002
Green remains one the Eagles’ most dynamic running backs to date. In his two years atop the depth chart, he logged 2,723 yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground, even winning Big East Player of the Year in 2001. His NFL career, however, was not nearly as prolific. Off-the-field issues—pertaining to drug and alcohol abuse, as well as domestic disputes—and injuries prevented Green from becoming the star running back the Cleveland Browns envisioned.
9. Chris Hovan DT – Minnesota Vikings
25th Overall Pick, 2000
Chris Hovan became the first BC player to earn All-Big East honors on three separate occasions. He recorded 20.5 sacks—the fourth most in program history—all while starting 43 games during his BC tenure. When in the NFL, Hovan spent five seasons with both the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before suffering a career-ending injury in training camp with the St. Louis Rams in 2010. Hovan was named a Second Team All Pro in 2002 for a 52-tackle, 5.5-sack campaign.
Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Archives