The Colorado football program has never had a player leave school early to enter the NFL draft and not be selected in that year's draft.

Offensive lineman David Bakhtiari doesn't see why he would be the first.

Not long after his junior season ended last fall, Bakhtiari made a trip to see his brother, Eric, play linebacker and special teams for the San Francisco 49ers against Bakhtiari's old teammate Nate Solder and the New England Patriots. He had planned to consult with the NFL's underclassmen advisory committee at the end of his junior season about where he might fit into the draft if he turned pro early and now that decision was staring him in the face.

It was during the trip to watch his brother play, that Bakhtiari decided he had more passion for turning pro than he did for returning to CU to endure his second coaching change in two years and play for his third head coach.

Bakhtiari said he talked to a lot of people about his options but he made the decision based on what he felt was right for him, and not so much on what others believed. He's comfortable with it as he enters the final stages of preparation for the April draft after taking part in select drills at Colorado's pro timing day Wednesday.


"People close to me, but at the end of the day it was myself," he said when asked who helped him make the choice to turn pro. "I relied on myself. I wanted to know what did I want to do. People could tell me to go back to CU or go for the draft, but at the end of the day, I sat down in a room and was like, 'David Bakhtiari, what do you want to do?' And that was the ultimate decision."

David Bakhtiari, right, works with Eric Richter during pro timing day at CU on Wednesday.
David Bakhtiari, right, works with Eric Richter during pro timing day at CU on Wednesday. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

Bakhtiari had previously worked out for every franchise at the NFL Scouting Combine last month in Indianapolis. His former teammate, tight end Nick Kasa, also was there and also took part in only some of the tests and drills Wednesday at CU.

In all, nine former Buffs worked out for 27 scouts and assistant coaches from 23 different teams. The other players involved were defensive lineman Will Pericak, defensive back Ray Polk, linebackers Doug Rippy and Jon Major, offensive lineman Eric Richter and 2011 CU seniors Tyler Hansen and Ryan Deehan.

Bakhtiari is the seventh CU football player to leave school early to enter the NFL draft. All six of the previous players to do so were drafted. Two of the six -- running back Lamont Warren (1994) and defensive lineman Shannon Clavelle (1995) -- probably found themselves wondering if they had made a mistake when they weren't drafted until the sixth round of their respective drafts.

In asking the NFL undergraduate advisory committee to evaluate him, Bakhtiari submitted tape from three games of his choosing. Six teams evaluate it and the league issues a grade based on those reports and provides the grade to the prospect.

Bakhtiari said he was comfortable turning pro based on that evaluation and the advice of people close to him whom he trusts, such as his brother.

This draft is considered a deep one on both the offensive and defensive lines, which made some view Bakhtiari's decision to turn pro with a skeptical eye. rates him the ninth best tackle in the draft and projects him to be selected in the second or third rounds. Meanwhile, rates him the 22nd best tackle in the draft. If that rating proves more accurate, it creates uncertainty about when or if Bakhtiari would be drafted.

It wasn't a shock that Bakhtiari turned pro. He had been named second-team All-Pac-12 Conference two years in a row by the conference's coaches, despite playing on two historically bad CU teams in 2011 and 2012. A pro future was in the cards whether it happened now or a year from now and as long as he stayed healthy.

Bakhtiari was measured and weighed at 6-foot-4 and 303 pounds on Wednesday. Those stats generally describe a guard in the NFL, but Bakhtiari spent his college career playing both left and right tackle. He said he's heard a variety of opinions about where he fits in best as a pro.

"It depends on the team," Bakhtiari said. "I've had a variation on every position, but at the end of the day, it's whatever the one team that picks me up, whatever they want me to play, I'm going to play it. ... That's how I was here and that's how I will be at the next level as well."

Bakhtiari said he felt more comfortable working out at CU than he did at the combine, which isn't unusual to hear from players who have done both. He said the atmosphere on campus is more relaxed. He went through some position specific drills for scouts and talked with representatives of different teams one-on-one. He described the whole process from initially making his decision to the preparation, the combine and pro day as "entertaining" and one he would not change if given the chance.

Bakhtiari came to CU in 2009 after being recruited by former CU offensive coordinator and current Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich. He never played on a winning team at CU and never was able to participate in a bowl game.

He was asked Wednesday whether he believes he would have turned pro if he had played in a more successful program and had more to come back to than another rebuilding startup.

"I don't know. That's an 'if' question and 'if' questions are always very gray. It's a gray area," he said. "I was always going to turn in my NFL draft evaluation for juniors and I don't know if I was at a different school if I would have got the same grade back or not. So I don't know how to answer that, but no matter what I was going to sit down and view the option as a redshirt junior based on talking to my family and especially talking to my brother, and close friends."

He's not looking back and he has no regrets no matter what happens in April.

"It's been a good experience," he said. "It's been a good run. I was really happy. Someone asked me, 'David would you want to do it again?' and I said, 'Hell yeah I'd want to do it again.' Who doesn't want to train and get to go out and showcase what you've got to hundreds of thousands of people, which is definitely entertainment."

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