The Huskies had five players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft over the weekend, the most for the program since 2001. It’s not so farfetched to think the Huskies could double that total in the 2018 NFL draft.
The Huskies had five players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft over the weekend, the most for the program since 2001. It’s not so farfetched to think the Huskies could double* that total in the 2018 NFL draft, depending on which draft-eligible juniors** opt to leave school early.
Here, a look at one reporter’s top 10 UW prospects for 2018.
(*The school record for players selected in one draft is 11, which happened in 1983 (Ray Harton, et al) and 1992 (Steve Emtman, et al), when the draft was 12 rounds. Since the draft was trimmed to seven rounds, the record for UW players drafted is 10 from 1998 (Jerome Pathon, Tony Parrish, Cameron Cleeland, et al).
**Not saying any of these underclassmen will or should leave early, but if they produce in 2017 they ought to at least give the draft consideration. Not included are juniors I would expect to return for their senior season regardless — notably Jake Browning.)
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10. KALEB McGARY, OT, redshirt junior, 6-7, 310
Finally healthy, McGary started every game at right tackle last fall for a line that allowed just 1.86 sacks per game (third-fewest in the Pac-12). His upside is still largely to be determined, but he’s got the tools to be a future pro.
9. COLEMAN SHELTON, C, 6-4, 297, senior: He’s smart, durable and versatile — having played every position on the offensive line — and he’s one of the most respected leaders in the locker room. Entering his second season at center, he could be an intriguing prospect with a strong senior season.
8. MYLES GASKIN, RB, 5-10, 191, junior
Gaskin rushed for 1,302 yards as a true freshman. He rushed for 1,373 yards as a sophomore. That means he enters his junior season this fall needing 1,431 yards to tie Napoleon Kaufman’s 23-year-old school rushing record (4,106). The sense here is Gaskin is still more likely to return for his senior season in 2018, but if he has another big year and breaks Kaufman’s record it’s fair to ask: What else would he have left to prove in college?
7. KEISHAWN BIERRIA, LB, 6-1, 230, senior
Like Shelton, Bierria is a durable team leader (he won the team’s Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award last fall). And, like Shelton, Bierria might not be UW’s most gifted athlete but he’s a guy you’d expect to impress scouts with his all-around makeup.
6. DANTE PETTIS, WR, 6-1, 192, senior
After his 15 TD receptions playing with John Ross III last fall, Pettis enters his senior season as Browning’s new No. 1 target. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the added attention from opposing defenses, but Pettis has developed into a well-rounded receiver who probably projects as a mid-round pick at this point. (Pettis’ all-around athleticism, exemplified by his sudden success with the UW track and field team this spring, should translate well at the NFL combine too.)
5. LAVON COLEMAN, RB, 5-11, 223, senior
Coleman and Pettis were the Huskies’ most improved players last fall, with Coleman setting the school record with 7.5 yards per carry (852 yards on 114 carries) as the No. 2 back. Coleman lives in the weight room, and he runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash — “measurables” that should get scouts’ attention.
4. AZEEM VICTOR, LB, 6-3, 222, senior
Coming off a broken leg in November, Victor was nearly back full strength for spring ball, and he’ll team again with good friend Bierria in what could wind up being one of the best inside linebacker tandems in school history. Victor dropped about 10 pounds last offseason in an attempt to get faster, and before the injury he said he felt comfortable at that weight last season.
3. GREG GAINES, NT, 6-2, 321, redshirt junior
Presuming Gaines returns to full strength from a weight-room shoulder/pectoral injury earlier this spring — UW coach Chris Petersen expects Gaines to be full-go come Sept. 1 — the nose tackle could be in store for a big season this fall. For a guy who’s primary job is to eat up blocks, Gaines still put up some good numbers last fall (35 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks) — and it’s fair to expect even more next season. If all goes well, he could push himself into second- or third-round consideration.
2. TREY ADAMS, OT, 6-8, 320, junior
Adams is as physically imposing an offensive lineman as the Huskies have had since … what … Lincoln Kennedy? His build is just about the archetype you want out of a tackle, and he has a chance to be a high draft pick — whether that’s in 2018 or ’19. To cement his place as a high pick, Adams needs to be consistently dominant in both pass protection and run blocking. “You see him do some stuff and it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s how it’s supposed to look,’” new O-line coach Scott Huff said last month. “But then the next time it’s like, ‘Hey, that looked like two years ago. That’s not acceptable.’ So we’ve got to hold him to that level of consistency, and he’s got a ways to go.”
1. VITA VEA, DL, 6-5, 346, redshirt junior
You just don’t find guys this big, this strong and this athletic. If Vea’s production comes closer to matching his potential this fall, he has a chance to be the third top-10 pick out of UW since since 2011 (Jake Locker and Ross).
For more, check out Jon Wilner’s breakdown of the Pac-12’s top prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.