In 2014, the Pac 12 produced many premier draft picks such as Marcus Mariota, Leonard Williams, Marcus Peters, Shaq Thompson and Eagles first round pick, Nelson Agholor. There were a few other first rounders to come out of the conference as well as many day two picks. This conference is of particular interest because of Chip Kelly's familiarity with the region. The Eagles have drafted 9 Pac-12 players under Kelly and the current team rosters 21 players from Kelly's former college conference. There may not be a direct correlation, but it is worth paying attention too. Unlike last year, the conference does not seem to have the large crop of first round caliber players, it does have a few premium players who could be drafted among the top of their position.
Quarterback: Cody Kessler, USC
Kessler was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country last year and he has his great mechanics and intelligence to thank for his production. He does not have great size (6-1,215) and his arm strength is average at best, but Kessler uses anticipation, accuracy and good decision making to make plays on the field. He has issues functioning when the play breaks down, but can work very well within structure. He looks like a high end back up at this point, but if he can improve his poise, he could work his way into starting tier conversation.
Second Team: Jared Goff, Cal
Running Back: Devontae Booker, Utah and Daniel Lasco, Cal
Devontae Booker broke onto the scene last year with the Utes after signing with them out of Junior College. Booker has an ideally compact build (5-11, 215) and runs with great acceleration, vision, short area quickness and strength. He does not have top end speed, but his ability at the first level of a defense allows him to create offense for himself. On top of that, he is a very valuable asset in the passing game, using soft hands and good routes to get the ball and then his natural running ability to pick up yardage. He may not have game breaking speed, but Booker may be the most complete back in the entire class.
When people think of Cal, they usually think of heavy passing offense (and losing), but Cal also has one of the more underrated running backs in the country. Lasco is built very well (6, 210) but has the ability to play the small game as a running back. He has good agility and can create yards in small spaces with vision, quickness and burst. In the open field, Lasco's size allows him to run through defenders. Lasco did not have to deal with a lot of loaded boxes playing at Cal, but his complete skill set will help him produce at the next level.
Second Team: Dwayne Washington, Washington and DJ Foster, ASU
Wide Receiver: Cayleb Jones, Arizona and Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Arizona seems to have a prolific wide receiver every year, but Jones looks like he also has the ability to impact the NFL at a high level. Jones has an NFL build, standing at 6-3, 215 with long arms. He does a great job releasing off the line and shows good smoothness through his routes. With the ball in the air, he does a good job attacking and positioning himself to make the catch. He is not a dynamic athlete before or after the catch, but his savvy and his size could help him make a successful jump to the NFL.
In 2014, Colorado wide receiver, Paul Richardson was taken in the second round of the draft. While he was over drafted, I do believe that Spruce is a much cleaner, NFL ready prospect. While Spruce does not have the track speed that Richardson had coming out, he possesses incredible quickness through his routes, good hands and solid focus at the catch point. He is not game breaking in the same way his former teammate was, but his low variance and dependability could make him an intriguing NFL prospect.
Second Team: Kenny Lawler, Cal and Bralon Addison, Oregon
Tight End: Devon Cajuste, Stanford
Cajuste is probably one of the strangest prospects in the conference. He was recruited to Stanford as a tight end, has a tight end's body (6-4, 230) but spends most of his time playing at wide receiver. However, Cajuste does not have the suddenness or burst to be an effective NFL receiver. Cajuste can, eventually, get up to speed in a straight line, but he is best suited working the middle of the field. He does a good job using his body at the catch point and has a strong, dependable set of hands. He shows effort as a blocker, but does not posses great lower body strength, probably due to his low weight for his role. If he fully committed to tight end at the next level, I think Cajuste has the hands to be a dependable player in an offense.
Second Team: Pharaoh Brown, Oregon
Offensive Tackle: Tyler Johnstone, Oregon and Kyle Murphy, Stanford
Going into last season, Tyler Johnstone had more potential as an NFL tackle as former second round pick, Jake Fisher. Unfortunately, before he could display his talents, Johnstone lost his season to a torn ACL. Health permitting, Johnstone could assert himself into top tackle conversation this season. Standing at 6-6, 295, Johnstone has tremendous size for a tackle and has athletic ability to match. He does a great job moving in space and on the perimeter and pairs his athletic ability with clean technique and great playing attitude. Johnstone was a tremendously fun player to watch in 2013 and could be even better if his health allows this season.
Stanford has churned out NFL prospects along the lines for years and Kyle Murphy is another Stanford name that will be called eight months from now. The 6-7, 300 pound tackle has incredibly long arms, but an athletic build. He does a good job working on the edge and has strong, violent hands. He is high motor in the run game, but his footwork can get a bit sloppy when trying to block in space. Murphy is not a top level athlete, but his frame and style make him ideal for a power blocking team.
Second team: Zach Banner, USC and Caleb Benenoch, UCLA
Offensive Guard: Joshua Garnett, Stanford and Gavin Andrews, Oregon State
At 6-5, 325 pounds, Joshua Garnett is a large presence on an offensive line. As a blocker, he has long arms with heavy hands and can neutralize defenders once he engages. His biggest issue is his athletic ability. He does not have the lateral or straight-line movement skills to consistently beat defenders to a spot and it can hurt him against more athletic rusher or when he has to block in space. As a drive blocker, Garnett is very impressive, but it is to be seen if he can move well enough to function at the next level.
Like Garnett, Gavin Andrews is humungous (6-5, 245). He is incredibly strong, as well and can dominate opponents one on one at will. Unfortunately, Andrews has the movement skills of your average 345 pound American. His success at the next level is incredibly situational dependent and I am not sure how far he'll make it.
Second Team: Chris Borrayo, Cal and Dexter Charles, Washington
Center: Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
Highly recruited out of high school, Seumalo started immediately as a freshmen and has saw action in 25 games up to this point in his college career. the 6-3, 310 pounder has excellent feet, violent hands and a strong base at the center position. He is fundamentally sound with great on field demeanor and awareness. He plays through the whistle on a consistent basis and he is rarely out of position. There is very little weakness to Seumalo's game and he could very well be the first center taken in the upcoming draft.
Second Team: Max Tuerk, USC
Interior Defensive Line: Kenny Clark/ Eddy Vanderdoes, UCLA
With Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks taking their talents to Minnesota, the focus in LA will be on the big men up front. The UCLA defensive line starts with 6-3, 305 pound Kenny Clark. Clark has a strong build, fantastic burst off the line and active, violent hands. He needs to be more consistent anticipating the snap and polish his work as a pass rusher, but Clark is a disruptive and stout run defender with room to grow as an overall defender.
Clark's running mate, Eddy Vanderdoes, was an elite recruit coming out of high school and he has moments on the field where he looks like it. At 6-3, 305, Vanderdoes has incredible natural power and does a great job making plays against the run. He needs to improve as a pass rusher and that can come with improving his conditioning and leverage when attacking passing plays. Vanderdoes has a lot of wow moments and if he can string together plays consistently, he could assert himself as the best UCLA linemen.
Second Team: Antwuan Woods, USC and Alex Balducci, Oregon
Edge Defender: Deforrest Buckner, Oregon and Deon Hollins, UCLA
Despite Arik Armstead getting taken in the top 15 last draft, his former teammate, Deforrest Buckner, could end up being the better NFL player. At 6-7, 290 pounds, Buckner seems like a player who is best off two gapping at the next level, but his physical skill set makes him very versatile. He is an incredibly strong player, but also displays good quickness and a bit of bend to work through blocks to disrupt plays. He is not a dynamic athlete, per se, but his movement skills are above average and, paired with his motor and strength, allow him to be a complete defender on the edge. He is not dissimilar to current Eagle, Vinny Curry, who the team moves all over the field to create disruption. If given the opportunity, Buckner could absolutely produce in a similar role.
With all the defensive talent coming out of UCLA, Deon Hollins has gone a bit under the radar the last few seasons. Hollins is incredibly quick off the edge, using great anticipation and natural burst to fire off the snap. When engaged, Hollins' flexibility allows him to bend the edge and work through contact. However, Hollins is incredibly small (6-0, 225) and his game is predicated on bursting off the line and catching linemen off balance. He tends to get pushed around against the run and if he cannot win at the snap, he is usually neutralized. It will be important to see if Hollins can maintain his speed if he adds weight and strength, because that will dictate his NFL future.
Second Team: Christian French, Oregon and Reggie Gilbert, Arizona
Linebackers: Myles Jack, UCLA, Joe Walker, Oregon, and Travis Feeney, Washington
The proverbial cream of the crop in the Pac 12 is UCLA linebacker, Myles Jack. The 6-1, 235 linebacker is one of the most special players I have ever seen in coverage. The way he can move at 235 pounds is that of a corner 40 pounds lighter and his ability to flip his hips and change direction is truly spectacular. He is incredibly instinctual in coverage and has seen time covering from linebacker, safety and corner, all with great success. Attacking the line of scrimmage, his speed and burst allow him to consistently beat plays to their spot and he is also adept as a blitzer and pass rusher. His weaknesses are hard to point out besides maybe being too aggressive against the run, but Jack has the makings of a truly special player.
While he is not in Jack's stratosphere, Joe Walker is a very solid player for the Ducks defense. He moves well in coverage and possesses good instincts and range attacking the line of scrimmage. Walker has a high motor and good eyes, but can sometimes over run plays and take himself out of it. Hopefully the game slows down for him a bit more this year, because he is a very fun player to watch and has the on field demeanor and talent to be a good linebacker.
Overshadowed by first round pick, Shaq Thompson, linebacker Travis Feeney possesses a similar skill set that NFL teams will fall in love with. The former safety looks the part when he is moving around in coverage, but plays much bigger than he is listed (5-11, 225) when attacking the line of scrimmage. He is a very smart player too, but he is obviously limited by his size. It will be interesting to see his development with Washington losing so many stars on their defense, but Feeney's speed and smarts could get him noticed.
Second Team: Scooby Wright, Arizona, Anthony Saraoh, USC, Blake Martinez, Stanford
Cornerback: Fabian Moreau, UCLA and Ken Crawley, Colorado
Lost in the shuffle of all the talented UCLA players is cornerback Fabian Moreau. The 5-11, 195 pound defensive back is a natural cover corner. Moreau has great eyes, fluid hips and good burst. He does a good job working in both man and zone coverage. With the ball in the air, Moreau does a good job positioning himself to prevent the catch, but he could convert more coverages into turnovers. That and he could improve attacking the run game. Nitpicking, really, for a very complete and talented corner who should hear his name called early.
Ken Krawley flies a bit under the radar because of his program, but he is a very solid press corner prospect. Krawley has long, wiry arms that he uses to name receivers at the line of scrimmage. His length and size (6-0, 190) helps him make plays down the field with the ball in the air. He runs into issues when trying to change direction, often trying to guess the route in order for him to get a jump on the receiver. Sometimes, he is able to make the play, but other times, his athlete ability fails him and takes himself out of it. He is a very smart corner, but his instincts need to be perfect for him to consistently make plays. Ideally, he is a press perimeter corner in the NFL, but if he can hone his instincts, we could be talking about him quite a bit more in a few months.
Second Team: Kevon Seymour, USC and Lloyd Carrington, Arizona
Safety: Su'a Cravens/Leon McQuay, USC
Su'a Cravens is the best defender in the Pac-12 not named Myles. Standing at 6-1, 225, Cravens has the size and athletic profile to play either safety or linebacker. Near the line of scrimmage, Cravens has great instincts and is incredibly physical working through traffic. In coverage, Cravens moves incredibly well for a man his size and possesses very impressive fluidity and ball skills. Though he is probably maximized as a strong safety, Cravens has the movement skills to be steady playing over the top. He is incredibly versatile and will be a defensive weapon at the next level.
His running mate, McQuay, is not as flashy, but is a solid player. The rangy safety has good size (6-1, 190) and coverage skills. He has good eyes and burst to make plays over the top in coverage. He is not nearly as physical attacking the run, but he has the makings of an NFL safety.
Second Team: Reggie Daniels, Oregon, and Tedric Thompson, Colorado
The Pac-12 has some top tier players, but this is not the normally talented crop that the conference produces. There is, however, lots of potential for players to build on their talents and emerge as potential day two or even day one picks. The last installment will look at non-power five prospects, ranging from Notre Dame to North Dakota State.