Keenan Allen. David Bakhtiari. Nickell Robey-Coleman. Austin Hooper. Cory Littleton. Jayon Brown. Justin Reid. Phillip Lindsay. Gardner Minshew. All of these players were Pac-12 prospects who were drafted in the third round or later in their NFL Drafts. All of them would more than likely go much, much higher in a re-draft as they’ve all outplayed their original draft selection by far. Even JuJu Smith-Schuster and Taylor Rapp nearly fell out of the second round in their respective drafts. This year, the Pac-12 has several 2020 NFL Draft prospects that likely won’t get drafted early, but will provide immense value to the team that drafts them later on.
Cohl Cabral, Center, Arizona State
Cohl Cabral will be a polarizing prospect. He’s one of the most well-rounded and versatile offensive linemen in this draft class, having started multiple games at left tackle and center. He uses his hands well in pass protection and moves well in space, whether he’s pulling or climbing to the second level. He’s been voted as a team captain for two years as well. By the accounts of fellow PFN analysts on hand at the Shrine Game, Cabral had himself a good week in practices as well. However, his measurements will likely cause him to slide down boards. Cabral measured 297 pounds with 31 5/8″ arms at the Shrine Game. Do you trust the tape on him, or are the measurables too much to look past? This will be an interesting dilemma for NFL scouts and GMs to think about.
Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA
Asiasi declared early despite receiving little national buzz. I have a feeling that lack of attention will quickly resolve itself after the NFL Combine. While Asiasi isn’t the elite caliber athlete that Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson were last year, but he is still a quality athlete and it shows in his play-making. He wasn’t used to his best abilities in the Chip Kelly offense, but the big pass-catcher flashed as a deep threat and after the catch, especially in his game against USC this year. Asiasi won’t be an elite TE1 at the NFL level, but he can be a player similar to Tyler Higbee that can produce at the next level.
Jaylinn Hawkins, Safety, Cal
Ashtyn Davis gets a lot of attention, and deservedly so, but the other Cal safety is going unheralded in this draft process. For my money, Hawkins may be the most underrated 2020 Pac-12 draft prospect on this list. He’s versatile, playing in the box, slot, and deep for Cal throughout his career. He’s an elite ballhawk, leading the Pac-12 in interceptions in 2018 as a junior and tallying 10 career interceptions. The NFL Combine will be critical for his draft stock, but his tape indicates a solid athlete in the secondary with good sideline-to-sideline range. A good athlete with positional versatility who is an elite ballhawk and an experienced player (38 career starts) is a guy I’d take on my team. He will provide great value for the team that drafts him outside of the first three rounds.
Jace Whittaker, DB, Arizona
Whittaker is going to fall down to (likely) Day 3 of the NFL Draft because of his size (5’10, 189), which limits him strictly to nickel, and injury history. But because of that slide, he offers superb late-round value and upside. He’s a bit of a developmental project with his technique, but I think Whittaker has all the tools and talent to be a quality nickel corner for an NFL team. He’s smooth in coverage, mirrors well, and has demonstrated quality instincts and ball skills in his career. The hamstring injury and the subsequent elbow injury in the same season may scare off teams, but he started every game for 2019 with no injuries. Whittaker put out a good showing at the East-West Shrine Game, which was his first big test in a critical offseason. I love Whittaker as a person and as a player and I believe he’ll be successful at the next level.
Jared Hilbers, OT, Washington
The second offensive lineman on this list of underrated 2020 Pac-12 draft prospects, Hilbers is a name to know for teams needing quality tackle depth. Hilbers is in a tricky boat as a prospect. He’s played at both left and right tackle with good performances at both spots. He’s fundamentally sound and plenty physical. However, Hilbers’ athleticism and physical measurables are not particularly great, with shorter than desirable arm length and weight, similar to the aforementioned Cabral. This is why I believe teams will view Hilbers as a depth piece to target in later rounds, but I firmly believe he can be a quality swing tackle for any NFL team, which is quite a valuable trait. Trey Adams, his teammate, gets all of the attention, but Hilbers deserves some as well for his performance over the years and his value as a sleeper in the 2020 NFL Draft.
AJ Schulte is a Draft Analyst for PFN. You can follow him on Twitter @AJDraftScout.