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Draft Quack: Final 2019 Pac-12 Big Board

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Which Pac-12 prospects made the cut on the toughest Big Board on the internets?

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Conference Championship-Oregon vs Utah Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are multiple prospects in the Pac-12 this season, including several Oregon Ducks. Which prospects improved on their rankings from the midseason review and which need further work to seek NFL employment? I’ll break them down by offense and defense for this exercise.

OFFENSE

QB

1. Justin Herbert 6’6 237 Oregon Senior

Midseason ranking: 2

  • Herbert vaulted to the top of this list with a strong close to the 2019 season that ended up with him leading the way to a Rose Bowl victory. I love his physical tools including his arm strength and ability to control the pocket to a certain extent. He still has a tendency to get a little panicky when things cluttered, however. The Oregon offensive system didn’t really allow him to fully unleash his talents so his best football is ahead of him. Also, a big negative is his mental processing while in the pocket. Another weakness of his is that either he was unable or the system did not allow for anticipatory throws i.e. throwing receivers open. Granted, the receivers he had to work with weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, either. It was amazing to see what NFL caliber receivers can do for him at the Senior Bowl.

In this clip, you get quintessential Herbert in one go. The footwork while rolling out is abjectly abhorrent. He has 0 leg drive and is quite lucky that Penei Sewell held onto 91 as long as he did. Plus the throwing it up for grabs thing is Jay Cutler level of YOLO passing.

2. Tyler Huntley 6’1 205 Utah Senior

  • Huntley was the most consistent passer during the 2019 season in the Pac-12 from start to finish and thus gets the second spot on the board as a result. He was recently snubbed by the Combine after a decent season throwing to Utah’s limited receiving options. He has made tremendous strides as a passer in his final season and was invited to the Shrine Game as a result.

Midseason Ranking: 3

3. Anthony Gordon 6’2 199 Washington State RS Senior

Midseason ranking: 4

  • Let’s just say the third place is a steep drop off from the first two to put it nicely. Gordon is a nice prospect under the Leach Air Raid umbrella. He has a quick release and is very prudent with the ball, despite putting it up in the air so many times. He’s not the best at manipulating the pocket with his footwork. There is something to work with at the next level, however faint.

4. Jacob Eason 6’5 237 Washington RS Junior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • Woof. Eason had a precipitous fall after the midseason point. He reverted to Jacob Eason after starting off like a new age Tom Brady. He has the arm talent to make every throw in the book but the mental processing just isn’t there. There have been allegations that he wasn’t the greatest teammate but those are just allegations. He has all the physical tools but the consistency isn’t there. Honestly, Eason would be lucky to get drafted on Day 2 based on his intangibles but his physical tools will probably get him drafted in the first round. This clip below perfectly describes Eason as a prospect.

RB

1. Zack Moss 5’10 208 Utah

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • Moss is the best running back in the conference and did nothing to hurt that status during the second half of the season. He has pro level instincts and vision for the position. He would be ideal for a zone blocking system that predicates its backs on an one cut and go type of game.

2. Eno Benjamin 5’9 195 Arizona State

Midseason Ranking: 2

  • Benjamin has been the second ranked running back in the Pac-12 for two consecutive years. He’s not the most athletic running back out there but has enough athleticism to get by. Gets a little lost in between the tackles at times. Improved vision and IQ. Faced a ton of stacked boxes due to opponents respecting him and having a true freshman QB beside him. Benjamin had a great Senior Bowl effort as well. I expect him to get drafted on Day 2 based on his 2018 production along with a strong finish to the 2019 season.

3. Joshua Kelley 5’10 214 UCLA

Midseason Ranking: 3

  • Kelley has been one of the more underrated running backs in the Pac-12 due to the state of affairs in Westwood. He’s more of a in between the tackles type of runner that can move well enough laterally to make people miss. Kelley had a good week in Mobile as well. He should be a sleeper on Day 3.

4. J.J. Taylor 5’6 170 RS Junior Arizona

Midseason Ranking: 6

  • It will be interesting to see how he does in the NFL at his frame. He will likely do well as a third down change of pace back type. An awesome ball carrier for his size. Performed well given Arizona’s struggles at quarterback. A willing blocker.

5. Salvon Ahmed 5’11 189 Washington Junior

Midseason Ranking: 4

  • A speed demon that heavily relies on his athleticism to get by as he doesn’t have much functional strength. A weapon out of the backfield. Ahmed declared for the draft as a true junior to somewhat of a surprise. I’m not surprised given his track record of injuries and the new Lossington OC that has a less than stellar reputation. Still in a loaded draft class, one has to wonder if Ahmed is draftable.

WR

1. Brandon Aiyuk 5’11 201 Arizona State Senior

Midseason Ranking: 3

  • He’s a YAC monster. Has opened a lot of eyes in the scouting community even with a true freshman QB trying to figure things out. Aiyuk was the best receiver in the Pac-12 in 2019 in a conference loaded at the position. A really fast riser up the boards. A really smooth route runner. He even garnered praise from Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy when he stated that Aiyuk has gotten better grades than former Sun Devil receiver and first round pick N’Keal Harry. It will be interesting to see how he tests at the Combine. He was one of my favorite receivers in this class.

2. Michael Pittman, Jr 6’3 219 USC Senior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • An interesting red zone threat given his size and great ball skills. Excellent route runner. Big catch radius and hands. Athletically, not the most inspiring but inside the 20 so he will need to test well in that area at the Combine after a good Senior Bowl week. He doesn’t have that breakaway home run speed but has just enough to get open. He didn’t lose his top ranking as much as Aiyuk earned it.

3. Laviska Shenault 6’1 215 Colorado Junior

Midseason Ranking: 5

  • The do everything playmaker for the Buffs on offense. He’s been used seemingly in every conceivable way as a receiver for them. He’s one of the best receivers in college football when healthy. His game compares to Sammy Watkins in terms of usage and physical skillset. He rightly declared for the draft and should be a first round pick as one of the best receivers in the loaded class.

4. Isaiah Hodgins 6’4 209 Oregon State Junior

Midseason Ranking: Unranked

  • Hodgins is a junior receiver that no one really talks about outside of the Pac-12 footprint and that’s about to change. He had a monster season for the perpetually building Beavers squad that surprised many this past season. A big body receiver that can also run routes with the best of them in this class. He’s this low on my board due to the sheer talent above him, not through any fault of his own. In the clip below, look how he gets wide open with the double move. It’s a work of art worthy of the world’s most beautiful museums. He should be an early Day 2 pick if any teams had any common sense.

5. Juwan Johnson 6’4 231 Senior Oregon

Midseason ranking: Unranked

  • Johnson took awhile to get going for the Ducks but once he turned it on, he was unstoppable. He was a key target for Justin Herbert and sealed the Rose Bowl with a clutch third down catch. A big body red zone type with a little wiggle to him. He had a case of the drops while at Penn State but has largely improved on that during his brief stay in Eugene. Did just enough to earn an invite to the Shrine Game. In this clip below, look at how smooth his release is off the line in a tight red zone situation. Completely fooled the defender.

6. Aaron Fuller 5’10 187 Washington Senior

Midseason Ranking: 2

  • Fuller suffered a big fall from graces due to an ineffective passing attack led by former Malamut OC Bush Hamdan. When’s he effective, lateral quickness is a delight. Frame needs work, however as he’s slightly built. The medical will be interesting to watch as he missed a lot of time in 2019 due to various injuries.

TE

1. Hunter Bryant 6’2 239 Washington Junior

Midseason Ranking: 2

The best tight end in the conference by default to injuries elsewhere at the position and he’s no bastion of health himself. If healthy, he can pose a match-up issue for the secondary but he has been banged up a bit this season. A willing blocker but primarily used as a receiver. In the clip below, this is a perfectly executed screen pass after he chips the defender and shows good burst after the catch.

2. Colby Parkinson 6’7 235 Stanford Junior

Midseason Ranking: 3

  • A bit better blocking Devin Funchess if you will. He was leading target man for the Cardinal in 2019 and declared for the draft as a result.

3. Jacob Breeland 6’5 237 RS Senior Oregon

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • The best ability is availability as they say. Breeland wasn’t that during the second half of the season so he gets a severe downgrade from me due to that reason. Breeland was on track to becoming the Mackey Award winner before getting hurt so there is some talent there.

OT

1. Austin Jackson 6’6 310 USC Junior

Midseason Ranking: Unranked

  • Jackson is the best tackle in the conference due to other tackles not faring so well over the stretch run of the season. He’s immensely talented that was miscast under a terrible OL coach. He has been getting first round hype so clearly the scouts see something.

USC vs Utah 2019 OL

2. Calvin Throckmorton 6’5 310 Oregon RS Senior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • The longtime stalwart at right tackle for the Ducks is ticketed for guard at the next level due to his short arms. He had an outstanding college career an versatility will be his calling card. Has experience playing all five positions on the line. More importantly, he has experience as a left tackle while Penei Sewell was out with injury. He dips to number two through no fault of his own.

Oregon vs Auburn OL

3. Trey Adams 6’8 314 Washington Senior

Midseason Ranking: 2

  • More medical red flags than Communist China and the former Soviet Union combined. He’s a big dude but those medical issues are glaring. It will be interesting to see how he plays against smaller and quicker EDGE rushers in the pros.

2019 OL vs Cal

OG

1. Shane Lemieux 6’4 316 Oregon RS Senior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • Nothing to see here folks. Although Lemieux missed the Senior Bowl due to injury. Still, the best guard in the conference.

2019 OL vs Washington

2. Dallas Warmack 6’2 310 Oregon Senior

Midseason Ranking: Unranked

  • The nominal starter at right guard for the Ducks but his position was rotated quite frequently due to Warmack not being right after a shoulder injury. He still played very well when he was in.

C

1. Jake Hanson 6’5 295 Oregon RS Senior

Midseason Ranking: 3

  • Well, Hanson is the best center in the conference. He will need to test well at the Combine to keep that honor. He played the best down the stretch so it’s not like he lit the world on fire.

2. Cohl Cabral 6’5 304 Arizona State Senior

Midseason Ranking: 2

  • One of the best Pac-12 linemen for at least two years running. He has had some medical issues so that could be something to worry about. Primarily a center by trade but has played tackle in a pinch. Could be drafted in the middle rounds if the medical checks out. Versatility in that he can play both guard and center but is a center for the Sun Devils.

3. Nick Harris 6’1 293 Washington Senior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • Let’s just say that he didn’t finish his Huskies career with a flourish on top of a terrible Senior Bowl week. He simply isn’t good.

DEFENSE

EDGE

1. Bradlee Anae 6’3 257 Utah Senior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • The best edge rusher in the Pac-12 without question. There simply is no need to say any more. What he does to Throckmorton in this clip is borderline unfair. Look at the chop and swim move to get past him. It’s a work of art.

2. Christian Rector 6’4 270 USC RS Senior

Midseason Ranking: 3

  • Very good in the run game, holding up at the point of attack using his long arms. Not the most quick twitch athlete off the snap so he uses the long arms to keep the tackle at bay before going upfield. Not the most bendy athlete going around the corner. A run stopper at best. Injuries have hampered him in 2019, missing multiple games because of it.

3. Luc Bequette 6’2 290 Cal RS Senior

Midseason Ranking: 2

  • He isn’t the best pass rusher from the tackle spot where he usually plays but is a dynamic run defender. Has played a bit of EDGE this season due to Cal’s massive injury problems early on. Anchors well. Lateraly agility is a plus.

IDL

1. Leki Fotu 6’5 337 Utah Senior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • The measureables are impressive. He has a developing pass rush arsenal. Very good explosion skills off the ball. Hand usage is very good. Well built upper half. He’s a space eater that frees up his line mates to go make plays. Look the explosion off the snap in the clip below. It’s seriously impressive.

LB

1. Troy Dye 6’4 225 Oregon Senior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • Dye is the best overall linebacker in the conference. He can cover sideline to sideline as well as flow downhill (there are frame issues when he does, however). Perfect fit to counter this generation’s offense that requires tempo and space. He has had several injuries in 2019 including a broken thumb that hampered him during the final stretch.

2. Evan Weaver 6’2 234 Cal Senior

Midseason Ranking: 2

  • A tackling machine. He’s notched multiple 20+ tackle games this season already. Instincts are a plus. Athleticism is not a plus but it’s serviceable if a DC can match him up correctly. A tackling machine. He’s notched multiple 20+ tackle games this season already. Instincts are a plus. Athleticism is not a plus but it’s serviceable if a DC can match him up correctly.

3. Francis Bernard 6’1 230 Utah Senior

Midseason Ranking: Unranked

  • Bernard was one of the best linebackers in the conference in 2019 that no one nationally really talked about. He’s a very instinctive linebacker due to playing running back priro to his arrival in Salt Lake City. He really turned it on during the second half of the season and earned a Senior Bowl invite.

4. Davion Taylor 6’0 224 Colorado Senior

Midseason Ranking: Unranked

  • Taylor converted to defensive back after playing linebacker previously for Colorado this past season. He also ran track in college so he has athleticism for days. Still developing as a tackler so he’ll likely be a late round pick. He did well enough to earn an Senior Bowl invite though so there’s that.

CB

1. Jaylon Johnson 6’0 190 Utah Junior

Midseason Ranking: 3

  • Johnson is an impressive physical cornerback prospect. Tackling is on point. Ball skills are great as well. He’s one of the better corners in the conference. Do not test this man in coverage.

2. Jace Whittaker 5’11 180 Arizona Senior

Midseason Ranking: Unranked

  • Whittake is one of the more unheralded corners in this conference due to the state of things in Tucson defensively. He has an NFL future.

3. Darnay Holmes 5’10 191 UCLA Senior

Midseason Ranking: Unranked

  • Holmes really shot up my board after a strong close to the season and a closer look at the tape. He had an outstanding Senior Bowl and a good season for the hapless Bruins. Holmes put himself into the Day 3 conversation, possibly Day 2.

S

1. Ashytn Davis 6’1 195 Cal RS Senior

Midseason Ranking: 2

  • One of the best safeties in the 2020 class. Very disciplined in fundamentals. Doesn’t take too many false steps and get beat easily. Ball skills are above average. Frame wise, he’s stuck between free and strong safety. He will need to do something about the frame when he’s asked to be in the box against linemen. It’s a shame that he missed out on the Senior Bowl.

2, Myles Bryant 5’9 185 Washington Senior

Midseason Ranking: 1

  • Size wise, he compares to the Rams’ standout cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. He plays a lot bigger than what he’s listed at. Will still play a bit as the nickel at the next level. Lateral agility is a plus and instincts are as well. Versatile athlete with great speed. He was primarily used as the single high safety in a Cover 1 shell by the Huskies for some reason. Had a relatively good game against Oregon.

3. Julian Blackmon 6’1 204 Utah Senior

Midseason Ranking: 3

  • Blackmon had a really good year at safety before suffering an injury against Oregon. He was on track to Mobile before it. A versatile asset in the secondary as he played cornerback before moving over this past season. Had good games against BYU and UCLA prior.

4. Terrell Burgess 5’11 192 Utah Senior

Midseason Ranking: Unranked

  • Burgess was the key cog in the Utes’ highly ranked defense last season and was invited to the Senior Bowl as such. There has been some speculation that he could be a corner at the next level as well. In this rep below, he played the ball perfectly and picked off the pass. He profiles more as a strong safety type but can play some free safety also.