In the past at NFL Draft Geek we've done various College Football Previews leading up to the start of the season. Instead of doing team previews and doing more college football analysis, we've gone back to what we do best which is scouting and highlighting prospects for the draft. Listed below are our thoughts on the Pac 12 Prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft and the 20 best prospects within the conference.
You can't talk about the 2018 NFL Draft Prospects in the Pac 12 and not start with the quarterbacks. Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold are two of the three elite quarterback prospects in this class and both have a great shot of being drafted in the top 5 with Darnold wildly considered to be the next great franchise quarterback prospect. Rosen's mechanics and arm strength are top notch but concerns about his attitude and leadership characteristics could be a concern for some teams. Darnold does have a unique delivery but his playmaking ability and clutch performances really win teams over.
Outside of the quarterbacks there are still some elite talent. Washington DT Vita Vea is a massive defensive tackle who uses good lateral agility and short area burst to be a dominant run defender. Vea is going to remind many of a former Husky in Danny Shelton but Vea has a higher ceiling because he offers more pass rush potential. Another prospects that could be considered elite is Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage. At 6'3 220 Ballage is a big back but he is perfect modern day running back for this pass happy NFL. With his size and speed he has the ability to run the ball both outside and between the tackles. But was separates Ballage is his ability to catch the ball. He's going to get some David Johnson comparisons.
You want potential? There is plenty to go in this conference. Porter Gustin and Peter Kalambayi are two pass rushers that have the raw tools to have success but need to continue to develop. Gustin changes direction and moves well for somebody 6'5 260lbs while Kalambayi is an explisive rusher off the edge who and could turn into an elite pass rusher if he learns how to use his hands better. At tackle the Pac 12 has two prospects that with some added development could easily be first round picks and day one starters at left tackle in the NFL. Tyrell Crosby is an ultra athletic tackle who is coming back from an injury that cost him most of 2016. Washington's Trey Adams has the size at 6'7 and length but it's his lateral agility that allows him to mirror pass rushers. If he can continue to get stronger he could be seen as another Taylor Decker.
With all the top end talent in the Pac 12, there is still some underrated prospects to keep an eye on. While the Cal Bears have been known for their offense that last four years, it's a defensive prospects that is their best. DT James Looney who uses quickness and speed off the line to live in opponents backfields. Looney was so dominant against Washington he was held on a regular basis and saw plenty of double teams. Another player to keep an eye on is UCLA S Jaleel Wadood. While at 5'10 175lbs he isn't the biggest safety but he makes up for it with quickness and instincts. Wadood didn't play a ton in deep coverage against Texas A&M but he was all over the place defending the run showing good angles and closing speed. If that translates to his range in coverage he could be a fast riser in the Predraft process.
Here are the top 20 prospects in for the 2018 NFL Draft in the Pac 12 Conference.
1. Josh Rosen QB 6'4 210 UCLA
2. Sam Darnold QB USC
3. Vita Vea DT Washington
4. Porter Gustin OLB USC
5. Peter Kalambayi OLB Stanford
6. Kalen Ballage RB Arizona State
7. Cameron Smith ILB USC
8. Tyrell Crosby LT Oregon
9. Scott Quessenberry C UCLA
10. Trey Adams LT Washington
11. Cody O'Connell LG Washington State
12. Lowell Lotulelei DT Utah
13. Jaleel Wadood S UCLA
14. Luke Falk QB Washington State
15. James Looney DT California
16. Royce Freeman RB Oregon
17. Bryce Love RB Stanford
18. Keishawn Bierra ILB Washington
19. Viane Talamaivao RG USC
20. Coleman Shelton C Washington