Collegiate Bears to Pro Bears: Former Cal players make their way onto NFL teams on draft weekend

Photo composite of Trevon Clark, Chase Garbers, Cameron Goode, Elijah Hicks

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With the conclusion of the NFL draft, six former Bears saw their aspirations come true as they found new homes to kick-start their professional careers today.

Outside linebacker Cameron Goode became the first Bear to find a home this offseason — the former Cal standout was drafted 224th overall in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.

Goode, who played 37 games in six years for the blue and gold, will join a developing linebacker core in South Beach — young pieces like Andrew Van Ginkel and Jaelen Philips were drafted in 2019 and 2021, respectively. As a seventh-round pick, Goode will likely be battling for a backup spot on the 53-man roster.

It will be a new setting for Goode, who grew up in Spring, Texas, before attending college in Berkeley. By the end of his tenure at Cal, Goode finished eighth on Cal’s career sack list and just outside the top 10 in tackles for loss. In his last season, Goode racked up 38 pressures as well as seven sacks.

Against all expectations, with the 254th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected safety Elijah Hicks, making him the second Cal player to be drafted this year. Hicks joins three other Pac-12 athletes in Chicago’s defensive secondary: Jaylon Johnson from Utah and Kyler Gordon from Washington.

“I’m ready to go to work,” Hicks said. “Cal has prepared me for this next level … I’m just excited to go out there and show what I can do and prove myself.”

With the addition of Hicks, Chicago adds a unique perspective to their defense: a fifth-year senior, Hicks, spent his first three seasons at Cal playing cornerback before transitioning to the safety position. Hicks did not miss a single game during his college career — of the 54 games, he started in 46, accumulating 213 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, five interceptions, one touchdown, 14 pass breakups and six forced fumbles.

Despite his stellar resume, Hicks did not receive an invite to the NFL combine.

Three other former Bears, despite going undrafted, managed to sign onto teams after the conclusion of the draft. Quarterback Chase Garbers is headed to the Las Vegas Raiders, where he will look to compete with Nick Mullens and Garrett Gilbert for added depth behind starter Derek Carr. Garbers ended his collegiate career as Cal’s all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. He also finished in the top five in total offense.

Wide receiver Trevon Clark found a home in Baltimore after signing with the Ravens. He has the potential to join a thin receiving group that consists of Devin Duvernay, Jaylon Moore, James Proche II and Binjimen Victor. Clark isn’t the only undrafted pass-catcher to make his way to Baltimore, as fellow Pac-12 receiver Devon Williams also inked a UDFA contract after the draft. Clark ended his stint at Cal with a career year in receptions, yards and touchdowns. The Victorville, CA local was also remembered this past season for being on the receiving end of a Big Game record 84-yard touchdown pass during Cal’s victory at Stanford.

Wideout Kekoa Crawford signed a contract with the Indianapolis Colts. Crawford ended his stretch at Cal with 75 receptions for over 1,000 receiving yards. The Colts added two other receivers to their class, one through the draft and one through undrafted free agency.

Cornerback Josh Drayden — who holds Cal’s record for games played — signed with the Washington Commanders, who also added Oklahoma State CB Christian Holmes to their draft class.

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