Head coach Mike MacIntyre's first season at Colorado wasn't much better than Sonny Dykes at California, though the Buffalos did beat the Golden Bears for one conference win and finished the season at 4-8, overall.
The 2014 NFL draft provided some relief. The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks made wideout Paul Richardson their top pick and the No. 45 overall selection. Unfortunately, the excitement was limited to Richardson, as he was Colorado's only player selected.
There is reason for optimism in Boulder, however. Some intriguing talent lies in wait for the 2015 draft and even more is blooming for the future with sophomores Sefo Lifua (quarterback), Addison Gillam (linebacker) and Chidobe Awuzie (cornerback) ranking among the team's most gifted prospects.
Colorado's top NFL Draft-eligible prospects to watch in 2014:
1. DT Josh Tupou, Junior (6-2 | 320 | 5.10 | #55)
Boasting size, strength and athleticism, Tupou is the most intriguing of Colorado's potential NFL prospects though the true junior remains quite raw. He generated some buzz among scouts as an underclassman to watch but the thick run-stuffer hardly wowed in the statistical category a season ago, posting 38 tackles with two tackles for loss and just half a sack.
Statistics don't tell the whole story with Tupou, however. While not particularly nimble, Tupou offers at least average initial quickness, good strength at the point of attack and pursues with passion. Tupou can push the pocket with good upper body strength on the bull-rush and gets his hands into passing lanes. His frame, physicality and effort could intrigue 4-3 and 3-4 teams, alike, as a developmental interior prospect.
2. CB Greg Henderson, Senior (5-11 | 185 | 4.53 | #20)
The Buffs haven't had a defensive back selected in the NFL Draft since 2011 (CBs Jimmy Smith, Jalil Brown) but if Henderson can build upon a breakout 2013 campaign, he is in good position to end this streak. Henderson enters his senior campaign with 32 career starts but "only" five career interceptions. Four of those, however, came a season ago.
Henderson has a broad frame with good overall musculature, actually appearing a little bigger on film than his listed size. He registered a team-leading 10 passes broken up a season ago despite missing the first two games (and being hampered in more) with a knee strain. Scouts are intrigued by Henderson because despite last year's injury, he has steadily improved throughout his collegiate career. He is a fluid athlete with balance, agility and speed who has shown with improving awareness and mitts for the interception.
3. OG/OC Daniel Munyer, RS Senior (6-2 | 290 | 5.06 | #52)
Munyer entered the 2013 season among Colorado's most intriguing prospects but struggled with consistency and must play with greater focus and physicality as a senior to earn NFL draft consideration. Rotated between right guard and center throughout his career, Munyer flashes initial quickness, good lateral agility and the balance to handle run and pass-blocking responsibilities. He's athletic enough, in fact, that Colorado is reportedly considering pushing him outside to left tackle in 2014.
Regardless of his role for the Buffs this season, Munyer is best suited for the interior as an NFL prospect. He's an intriguing athlete who can fire off the snap and surprise second-level defenders with his quickness and agility. Munyer was recognized as a team captain this spring. If he takes this role seriously, Munyer could be on the verge of a breakout season that could result in his earning a selection in the 2015 NFL draft.
Other Colorado prospects worth watching:
WR Nelson Spruce, RS Junior (6-1 | 205 | 4.61 | #22)
Spruce isn't the same caliber of athlete as Richardson but he should emerge as the team's top target in 2014. He finished second behind Richardson in all three major receiving categories in 2014 with 55 receptions for 650 yards and four touchdowns and could see significant gains this season. While not the same caliber of athlete as Richardson, he offers a well-built frame, reliable route-running and hands.
CB Kenneth Crawley, Junior (6-1 | 165 | 4.55 | #2)
Crawley missed much of the spring with a hand injury but previously proved a capable Pac-12 defender, starting the past two seasons on the boundary. He struggled with consistency in 2013 after turning heads as a true freshman but offers intriguing length and athleticism.