Pac-12 Top 25 NFL Draft prospects: Studs at the skill positions

The Pac-12 is used to churning out NFL players annually for the NFL Draft. How does the top of this conference stack up heading into the new season?

[sv slug=”jonathanvalencia”] We’re now just a few measly weeks to the kickoff of the 2019 season. Whether you lean NFL or NCAA, the common denominator is the NFL Draft. For myself and draft zealots alike, the focus throughout the summer has been the 2020 NFL Draft. We know the Pac-12 can produce talent at an impressive clip, but how exactly do these prospects stack up?

Prospects 1-5

It’s no secret that Justin Herbert enters the season as the consensus top prospect in the conference. Not only that, he’s a favorite to be selected #1 overall come April. He’s joined in the top tier by two other game-changing talents on the offensive side of the ball. Laviska Shenault is arguably the most dynamic wide receiver in the nation. Then there’s Eno Benjamin who is a three-down back at the next level.

The creme de la creme of the Pac-12 resides on offense, even upfront. Walker Little is undoubtedly the top offensive linemen in the conference. With a silky-smooth kick step and tons of athleticism, Little flashes first-round traits. Shane Lemieux leads Oregon’s talented offensive line. He hasn’t garnered all that much hype to this point. However, he sets the tone in the trenches for the Ducks with his physical play. Lemieux possesses a scheme versatile skillset and should be a day two pick.

Prospects 6-10

A trio of cornerbacks devises this second tier as defense dominates. Paulson Adebo is my personal favorite heading into the season. The true junior led the nation last season with 24 passes defended. Adebo’s ball skills and physicality place him tops among Pac-12 corners. UCLA’s Darnay Holmes also brings impressive ball skills to the table along with elite-level athleticism. As for Jaylon Johnson, he’s a pure cover guy who is solid all around.

If not for a couple of significant injuries, Trey Adams would find himself higher on this list. However, he still has among the highest ceilings of any prospect in the conference. Between his towering size and athleticism, he’ll be a guy the NFL covets. First, he’s going to have to prove durability. While Adams has a high ceiling, Christian Rector stands on a safe floor. The USC standout is as stout as they come holding the edge. He plays with a ton of power and force while bringing a high motor as a run defender.

Prospects 11-15

Again were graced with a primary group of offensive skill players. Salvon Ahmed is my initial breakout candidate in the Pac-12 for 2019. Ahmed has unreal jets combined with remarkable elusiveness. With Gaskin gone, he’ll shine in a full-time role. Zack Moss is another standout Pac-12 back. At his size, he packs a punch as a downhill runner and possesses surprising ability to evade tackles and get going in space.

The top linebacker in the conference, Troy Dye has been wreaking havoc since his true freshman season. His athleticism has always shined, but now he needs to bunker down and continue to groove the edges of his game. Colby Parkinson looks to carry the torch of Stanford’s strong lineage at tight end. A massive target with hands and athleticism, Parkinson could be the highest-drafted Cardinal TE since Zach Ertz. His quarterback, K.J. Costello is a polished thrower who brings prototypical size. Certainly worthy of a draft pick, he’ll look to go out with a boom in his senior season.

Prospects 16-20

Heaps of toughness resides in this fourth tier of Pac-12 prospects. Starting with Nick Harris. He’s an emerging star at center in UW’s offense. With a short, stocky frame, Harris plays with an excess of force and physicality. He’s right up there with Oregon’s Jake Hanson. However, Hanson is the better technician with plus movement skills. Both centers are among the top of the country at the position and should draw picks this spring. Calvin Throckmorton joins Hanson on the Ducks’ line. He’s an unfinished product but has the size, experience, and flashes to draw teams in.

Perhaps the most underrated prospect in the conference, Bradlee Anae has posted monster production for the Utes over the past couple of seasons. My pick for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Anae’s game is reminiscent of former Washington State Cougar, Hercules Mata’afa. Evan Weaver is another strong candidate as the conference’s DPOY. The Pac-12’s returning tackle leader, Weaver is another player with bloated numbers. The active linebacker is all over the field for the Golden Bears and at the worst will find himself off the board on day three.

Prospects 21-25

The pair of Washington weapons leads the charge in this final tier. Hunter Bryant is a move tight end and presents a mismatch with his size and athleticism. Dealing with injury last season, a full year of health could provide his draft stock a significant boost as he’s posted decent production thus far. Aaron Fuller has made his fair share of highlight plays after a breakout junior campaign. With Jacob Eason now engineering UW’s offense, the possibilities are endless for these weapons.

Arizona sneaks into this list right before the close. Colin Schooler is a true junior but plays like a seasoned vet the way he ushers the Wildcats’ defense. He shows a good feel in the running game and against the pass. Thomas Graham and Camryn Bynum are two corners flying under the radar. That’ll change within the next few months.

[sv slug=”jonathanvalencia”]
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