BOULDER — University of Colorado junior offensive tackle David Bakhtiari announced Tuesday morning that he will forego his senior season and will declare as an undergraduate eligible for this April’s National Football League draft.
“I woke up yesterday (Monday) and decided this is what I want to do,” Bakhtiari said. “I’ve been contemplating this for a long time. It didn’t have anything to do with (CU Coach) Jon Embree being fired; I had always intended to see where the NFL was going position me after I submitted myself for the review.”
“I sent in my draft evaluation form once it came back, there was a lot of deliberation with my family about what I wanted to do,” he continued. “Such things as the goals I wanted to accomplish in college, and the goals I want to set for myself in the NFL. The evaluation came back and had me in the second to third round range for a pick, but I also received some good feedback from Steve Marshall (his O-line coach at CU) and Coach Embree who spoke with several of their contacts around the league, and they thought I might even go a little bit higher, and that helped, too.”
CU’s new head coach, Mike MacIntyre and new offensive line coach, Gary Bernardi, both spoke with Bakhtiari before he made his decision. “There’s no doubt we would love to have him, but we understand it is a family decision and we will fully support what the young man has decided to do,” MacIntyre said.
Currently standing 6-foot-4½ and weighing in at 298 pounds, Bakhtiari played in 34 games for the Buffaloes, with 33 starts, including 11 this past fall at left tackle. He graded out as CU’s top offensive lineman at 89.8 percent (655 plus plays in 729 total snaps), as he was over 80 percent in all 11 games he appeared, including over 90 four times with his best figure a gaudy 92.5 percent at Washington State. He missed the Oregon game with a slight knee sprain, though he tried to make a go of it in pregame. The Pac-12 coaches selected him second-team all-conference for the second straight year.
He also had 41 “will-breaker” blocks in Marshall’s grading system, sort of a “pancakes-plus” other schools often award. He had over 30 downfield blocks and two direct touchdown blocks while allowing two-and-a-half sacks and just one pressure. As a sophomore, he had the chore of replacing a first round draft pick at left tackle in Nate Solder, and responded by grading out second on the team at 84.4 percent. He earned three letters in all.
“I loved my time at CU,” Bakhtiari said. “In my career, I would have had three head coaches and four O-line coaches if I stayed for senior year, and I could have dealt with that. It came down to what we (he and his family) believe is the best decision for me. Before I even thought about playing football, CU was one of the schools I really thought I wanted to go to. I made great friends, met my girlfriend there, had great friends on the team, loved the school and especially the overall atmosphere and setting. There are a lot of things man can make, but he can’t make those Flatirons.”
He is close to graduating, needing four classes, one in his major and three random electives, to earn his degree in Communication.
Bakhtiari will become the seventh Buff to declare their eligibility for the NFL Draft as an undergraduate, all seven juniors when doing so, but the first in a decade. The previous six, followed by their position, the team and round they were drafted by: Leonard Renfro, DT, 1993, Philadelphia (1); Lamont Warren, TB, 1994 Indianapolis (6); Rashaan Salaam, TB, 1995, Chicago (1); Shannon Clavelle, DT, 1995, Buffalo (6); Ben Kelly, CB, 2000, Miami (3); Chris Brown, TB, 2003, Tennessee (3).