From Trey Adams to Kaleb McGary, Myles Gaskin and Byron Murphy, the Huskies have a ton of potential NFL talent coming up
The Huskies have had a great run in the NFL draft over the past four years, producing 16 draft picks during that span — including 10 first- or second-round selections.
To recap where the latest UW draft picks are headed:
First round, No. 12 overall: DL Vita Vea, Tampa Bay
Second round, No. 44 overall: WR Dante Pettis, San Francisco
Fourth round, No. 120 overall: TE Will Dissly, Seattle
Sixth round, No. 216: LB Azeem Victor, Oakland
Sixth round, No. 217: LB Keishawn Bierria, Denver
Also: RB Lavon Coleman (Houston), OL Coleman Shelton (San Francisco) and S Ezekiel Turner (Arizona) will get an opportunity as undrafted free agents.
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For as many NFL players as UW has produced in recent years, 2019 could prove even better.
Here, a look at the Huskies’ top prospects for next year’s NFL draft. (Note on underclassmen: This exercise isn’t meant to suggest which underclassmen should or will declare for the 2019 draft — just a list those who are eligible for the draft.)
1. Trey Adams, senior left tackle
In 2015, Adams became the first true freshman to ever play on the offensive line for Chris Petersen. In 2019, Adams could become the first UW offensive linemen Petersen’s had to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. The big question here, of course, is how well Adams returns from a torn ACL sustained in October 2017. Adams is on schedule in his rehabilitation and the Huskies are hopeful he will be able to start the season opener against Auburn on Sept. 1. At 6-feet-8 and 331 pounds, Adams offers incredible intrigue for NFL scouts, and CBSsports.com’ early 2019 mock draft has Adams projected as a top-10 pick, calling him “likely the most talented blocker in the 2019 class.”
2. Taylor Rapp, junior safety
Already, seven of the 11 regular starters from the Huskies’ 2016 Pac-12 championship defense have been drafted: Kevin King, Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Elijah Qualls in 2017; Vea, Victor and Bierria in 2018; three more are projected here to be drafted in 2019, starting with Rapp. Even in a veteran secondary loaded with NFL talent, Rapp emerged as a starting safety as a true freshman on UW’s 2016 Pac-12 championship team. This winter, the 6-foot, 207-pound Bellingham native impressed with his speed and agility during UW’s combine testing; he posted top times in the three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle with (hand-measured) times that would have placed him atop the marks at the NFL combine.
Byron Murphy, redshirt sophomore cornerback
DB-U, anyone? The Huskies in recent years have been a defensive-back factory for the NFL, with Desmond Trufant (first round, 2013); Marcus Peters (first round, 2015); Kevin King (second round, 2017); Budda Baker (second round, 2017); and Sidney Jones (second round, 2017) all early-round selections. Rapp, Murphy, Jordan Miller and JoJo McIntosh could follow in 2019. Whether Murphy, three years removed from high school, should declare after the 2018 season is a debate for another day. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Murphy proved to be one of the best corners in the Pac-12, even while missing half of the 2017 season with a broken foot.
4. Kaleb McGary, senior right tackle
McGary, 6-8 and 325 pounds, has been a rock at right tackle the past two and a half seasons. He toyed with the idea of declaring for the draft after the Fiesta Bowl, but should benefit from a solid senior season. Could be a Day 2 selection in 2019 if all goes well.
5. Greg Gaines, senior defensive tackle
Like McGary, Gaines gave strong consideration to leaving with a year of eligibility remaining before ultimately deciding to return for his senior season. UW is glad he did, and Gaines should also benefit from a healthy senior season.
6. Myles Gaskin, senior running back
Says something about the talent on the UW roster that Gaskin isn’t higher than No. 6 here. By the end of his senior season, Gaskin ought to hold just about every significant rushing record for the Huskies. He got a fourth-round grade by NFL talent evaluators last December and, sure, scouts will nit-pick his size in the buildup to the 2019 draft. But Gaskin’s speed, durability, craftiness and pass-catching ability ought to push him into Day 2 consideration.
7. JoJo McIntosh, senior safety
The meanest, hardest hitter on the UW defense, the 6-1, 211-pound McIntosh has the size and length NFL teams look for in a strong safety. A second-team all-Pac-12 selection, he had 50 tackles and one interception last fall.
8. Jordan Miller, senior cornerback
At 6-1, 180 pounds, Miller is long and lean, a la Marcus Peters. Miller played sparingly as a true freshman in 2015 and was a key reserve in that 2016 loaded secondary. As a junior in 2017, he finally got his chance the start. Midway through the season, he ranked as one of the Pac-12’s top cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus, before suffered a season-ending broken ankle at Arizona State in October. He is on track to return for fall camp, but he’ll be in a deep competition to regain his starting job.
9. Drew Sample, senior tight end
Dissly’s fourth-round selection by the Seahawks showed the value of blocking tight ends, and Sample is very much in the mold of Dissly. After a great start to the 2017 season (career-high three catches for 63 yards vs. Rutgers), Sample was limited by an ankle injury some last fall. The Newport High graduate is committed blocker and a capable receiver who could have his true breakout as a senior this fall.
10. Jake Browning, senior quarterback
There will be a lot of mixed opinions about Browning once he gets in the NFL wringer — and, yes, there already are many mixed opinions about him among UW fans. But he’s as smart and as sharp as any QB in college football, and at the very least his resume demands a long look from NFL evaluators.
Also: Tevis Bartlett, senior linebacker; Jaylen Johnson, senior defensive lineman; Ben Burr-Kirven, senior linebacker; Chico McClatcher, junior receiver; Shane Bowman, senior defensive lineman; Austin Joyner, junior defensive back; Myles Bryant, junior defensive back.