The University of Utah has been sending players onto pro football since long before the game was popular or even in the main stream of American society. Even during the program’s down times they have had plenty of talent move on to the NFL and the leagues that came before. This is the list of the best players in the history of American pro football to ever come out of the University of Utah on the offensive side of the ball.
20. Milt Romney: Romney played in the early days of pro football where he pretty much did everything on the offensive side of the ball. In his six-year career with the Racine Legion and the Chicago Bears, Romney played wide receiver, running back and quarterback. According to Pro-football reference.com, Romney played 73 games (41 starts) from 1923-1928 and scored five touchdowns on the ground and four as a receiver.
19. Speedy Thomas: Thomas was selected in the third round (57th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1969 draft. Thomas spent six years in the NFL as a wide receiver with the Bengals and the New Orleans Saints. The best year of his career came as a rookie when Thomas caught 33 passes for 481 yards and three touchdowns. he also carried the ball four times for 16 yards and another score.
15. Zane Beadles: Beadles was selected in the second round (45th overall) by the Denver Broncos in the 2010 draft. Beadles has started every game but two in his four-year career and made it to the Pro-Bowl in 2012 as an offensive lineman. Beadles is a key piece to the Denver Broncos who are trying to make a run at another Super Bowl appearance.
14. Fred Gehrke: Gehrke made the Cleveland Rams after going undrafted in 1940. He spends seven seasons in the NFL over the course of 11 years for the Rams, Chicago Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers. Gehrke found most of his success as a member of the Rams where he led the league in rushing yards per attempt in 1945 and 1946. His best season came in 1945 when Gehrke carried the ball 74 times for 467 yards and seven touchdowns as well as catching eight passes for 90 yards and another score for the NFL Champion Rams. For his efforts that season, Gehrke was named First-Team All-NFL by Pro Football Illustrated.
For his career, Gehrke registered 343 carries for 1,664 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground while totaling 56 receptions for 527 yards and seven scores.
13. Kevin Dyson: Dyson was selected in the first round (16th overall) by the Tennessee Oilers in the 1998 draft. Dyson spent five years of his six-year career in Tennessee as a wide receiver before playing his final season with the Carolina Panthers. His best season came in 2001, when Dyson caught 54 passes for 825 yards and seven touchdowns.
For his career, Dyson registered 178 receptions for 2,325 yards and 18 touchdowns.
12. Jack Johnson: Johnson spent his entire seven-year career with the Detroit Lions. Johnson appeared in 76 from 1934-1940 on the offensive line. He was named First Team All-NFL in 1936 by Collyer’s Eye Magazine and Second Team All-NFL in 1938 and 1939 by the Int. News Service according to pro-football-reference.com. Johnson also won and NFL Championship with the Lions in 1935.
11. Charlie Smith: Smith was selected in the fourth round (110th overall) by the Oakland Raiders in the 1968 draft. Smith played eight years in the league with the Raiders and the San Diego Chargers as a running back. His best statistical season came in 1972 when Smith carried the ball 170 times for 686 yards and eight touchdowns while also catching 28 passes for 353 yards and two more scores.
For his career, Smith had 858 rushing attempts for 3,351 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also registered 141 receptions for 1,596 yards and 10 touchdowns.
10. Mike Anderson: Anderson was drafted in the sixth round (189th overall) by the Denver Broncos in the 2000 draft. Anderson played for the Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens and appeared in 98 games (51 starts) as a running back over his seven-year career. His best season came in 2000 when as a rookie, Anderson carried the ball 297 times for 1,487 yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with 23 receptions for 169 yards.
For his career, Anderson carried the 919 times for 4,067 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also caught 92 passes for 727 yards and five scores.
9. Barry Sims: Sims carved out a 12-year NFL career as an offensive lineman even though he went undrafted. Sims made the Raiders in 1999 and played with them for nine seasons before moving on to the San Francisco 49ers for his last three years. Overall, Sims appeared in 174 games (141 starts).
8. Scott Mitchell: Mitchell was selected in the fourth round (93rd overall) by the Miami Dolphins in the 1990 draft. Mitchell played 99 games (71 starts) over 11 seasons for the Dolphins, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Mitchell had his best season while with the Lions in 1995. That year, Mitchell led the Lions to a 10-6 record and a trip to the playoffs while setting a career high in passing yards (4,338) and touchdown passes (32).
For his career, Mitchell completed 55.5 percent of his passes for 15,692 yards and 95 touchdowns.
7. Alex Smith: Smith was the number one overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 draft. Smith had his ups and downs in eight seasons with the Niners which included a trip to the NFC Championship game as a starter in the 2011 season. After winning 19 of his last 25 regular season starts with San Francisco, Smith lost his job after sustaining a concussion and never regained it once he got healthy.
Smith moved to the Kansas City Chiefs this season and had one of the best years of his career. He completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns for the 11-win Chiefs. He also set a career high with 431 rushing yards and a touchdown on 76 carries.
To this point in his career, Smith has thrown for 17,593 yards and 104 touchdowns while completed 59.5 percent of his passes. He has also rushed for 1,192 yards and five touchdowns on 288 attempts.
6. Bob Trumpy: Trumpy was selected in the 12th round (301st overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1968 draft. he played 128 games with the Bengals as a tight end. His best season came in 1969 when Trumpy made 37 receptions for 835 yards and nine touchdowns. For his efforts that season Trumpy was named a First-Team All- Pro.
For his career, the four-time Pro-Bowler made 298 catches for 4,600 yards and 35 touchdowns.
5. Jordan Gross: Gross was selected in the first round (eighth overall) by the Carolina Panthers in the 2003 draft. Gross has been with the Panthers his entire 11-year career and has started all 167 games he has appeared in on the offensive line. His most decorated season came in 2008 when Gross was named to the Pro Bowl as well as First-Team All-Pro. Gross was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in 2010.
4. Jamal Anderson: Anderson was selected in the seventh round (201st overall) by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1994 draft. Anderson spent his entire eight-year career as a member of the Falcons. During his first two years in Atlanta, Anderson only registered 160 yards rushing on 41 carries. Season number-three was when he finally showed what the “dirty bird” was all about. As a first time starter, Anderson registered his first 1,000 yard season on the ground and also caught 49 passes for nearly 500 yards.
The following season, Anderson would put up another 1,000 yard campaign even though his yards per carry average was only 3.5, but his best was yet to come.
In 1998, Anderson and his powerful running style led the Falcons all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the Denver Broncos. He carried the ball 410 times for 1,846 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with 27 receptions for 319 yards and two more scores in the regular season to earn First-Team All-Pro honors.
From that point on injuries would slow his career down significantly. Anderson would gain 1,000 yard on one more time in his final three seasons before hanging up the pads.
For his career, Anderson carried the ball 1,329 times for 5,336 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also registered 156 receptions for 1,645 yards and seven scores.
3. Mac Speedie: Speedie was selected in the 15th round (135th overall) by the Detroit Lions in the 1942 draft. He didn’t play his first professional game until four years later as a member of the Cleveland Browns. Speedie was with the Browns for four seasons when they were playing in the AAFC and three more once they merged with the NFL.
Speedie was one of the favorite targets of legendary quarterback Otto Graham as the Browns won four consecutive AAFC crowns and was named First-Team All-Pro in 1947, 48 and 49. In each of those seasons, Speedie led the AAFC in receptions and led the league in yards twice.
Speedie was still a weapon for the Browns when they made the jump to the NFL. In fact, Speedie led the league in receptions in 1952 and finished fifth in receiving yards. That year he was also named to the Pro Bowl for the second time.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Speedie finished his career with a combined 349 receptions for 5,602 yards and 33 touchdowns.
2. Roy Jefferson: Jefferson was selected in the second round (18th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1965 draft. Jefferson spent 12 seasons in the NFL playing for the Steelers, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins as a receiver. His most productive years came while he was in Pittsburgh where he had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 1968 and 69 and was named to the Pro Bowl each year. After catching 67 passes for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns, Jefferson was also named a First-Team All-Pro in 1969.
For his career, Jefferson registered 451 receptions for 7,539 yards and 52 touchdowns.
1. Steve Smith: Smith was selected in the third round (74th overall) by the Carolina Panthers in the 2001 draft. Smith started out his career as a punt and kick returner, but over the last dozen years has turned himself into one of the games elite receivers. During his 13 years in the NFL, Smith has recorded seven seasons of at least 1,000 yards receiving and been named to the Pro Bowl five times.
His most productive year came in 2005, when Smith led the NFL in receptions (103), receiving yards (1,563) and receiving touchdowns (12).
For his career to this point, Smith has totaled 836 receptions for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns as well as carrying the ball 57 times for 387 yards and two scores.