The Pac-12 is known for pumping out receivers, defensive backs, and cornerbacks in recent years. And with a talented senior class along with these Top 10 juniors, it sure seems that trend won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Three receivers lead off the list, along with three USC Trojans and Colorado and Washington State being represented early in the junior rankings.
1. Robert Woods, WR, USC
The cream of the crop in the Pac-12 and the rest of the 2013/2014 NFL Draft, Robert Woods has special NFL receiver qualities. His connection with Matt Barkley the past two seasons has been fun to watch and evaluate. Woods has ideal body control, quick change of direction to adjust to routes, and has consistent footwork on his routes to both get separation as well as consistently be on the same page as his quarterback. He doesn’t have the massive size we’ve generally seen from top receivers selected in the NFL draft, but has the nuances and body control development of a future top NFL receiver.
2. Keenan Allen, WR, California
Along with Woods, Allen is not only among the best juniors in the Pac-12, he’s among the best receivers in all of college football. He has ideal size, uses it well as he attacks in more vertical routes, and is consistently fighting for position on the intermediate and middle of the field routes. He developed good chemistry with Zach Maynard last season, and another year of their connection should give him a chance to pass 100 catches, something he approached but couldn’t get over last season.
3. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
The 6’4, lanky downfield threat has been a dominate receiver the past two years for the Cougars, regardless of the quarterback carousel that has occurred the past two season. He’ll need to add weight to his frame to continue to battle downfield, but his ability to catch away from his body and adjust downfield to the ball allows him to consistently pick up first downs and finishing the play in deeper routes. With Mike Leach’s offense, he’ll need to adjust to a few quicker routes that he hasn’t fine-tuned yet, but Leach has worked wonders with receivers with far less talent.
4. Keith Price, QB, Washington
Price capped off a very impressive season with a fantastic offensive effort in the bowl game shootout with Robert Griffin any Baylor. Built a little smaller and more fragile, Price has stayed healthy thus far in his career. His release point and ability to adjust his mechanics on the move should make up for his lack of ideal size at the quarterback position. A talented athlete in space, he did a great job of checking down inside and outside the pocket to his 2nd and 3rd read, and didn’t attack with his feet too much. He relies on his arm and downfield accuracy, and has some remarkablly similar passing ability and development to Robert Griffin did a season ago.
4. David Bakhtiari, OT/OG, Colorado
Now turning into an offensive line factory, Colorado has yet another future draft pick on their offensive line. Allowing only one sack last season, Bakhtiari plays with good balance and kick slides laterally without being overly susceptible to counter inside rush moves. He’ll be moving to the left side this year where his 6’4 size and length may struggle to consistently handle the host of quicker and bigger rusher the Pac-12 has to offer.
6. Kevin Graf, OT, USC
In his second year as the USC starting right tackle, a position formerly held by 2011 Top 10 pick Tyron Smith, Graf doesn’t quite have the same athleticism as Smith. However, he has ideal size, is built well in both his upper and lower half, and was a consistent downfield blocker for the Trojans in the running game. He’s able to keep his feet well downfield and adjusts his body well to win leverage in both pass and run blocking situations.
7. Nickell Robey, CB, USC
While the “Honey Badger” is the most notable undersized defensive back in college football with playmaking ability, Robey has a similar skill set, playmaking ability, and concerns going to the NFL. The 5’8, 165 pound cornerback/free safety ‘tweener has been an aggressive tackler in the short area and, in obvious passing situations, has been able to get vertical with his receiver and disrupt passes. With a cornerback like Robey, who has quick change of direction but is seriously limited physically and in-air, he can’t afford to be out of position. If he can show both aggressiveness while also being able to not allow receivers to use their size and physicality on him, he could get an NFL shot in a year or two. Hard to bet against a talent like him.
8. Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford
One of two tight ends from Stanford on this list, the Cardinal’s ability to utilize their tight ends was very impressive a season ago, and shouldn’t slow down or change, even without Andrew Luck at quarterback. Toilolo’s combination of blocking ability and second level pass catching ability allow him to be at worst a #2 tight end in the NFL. And with his 6’8 size and the way he’s able to move with that length, he could improve even further into a rare tight end weapon.
9. Sean Parker, S, Washington
Formerly a top recruit coming out of college, Parker flashed his explosiveness last season in the run game. No longer the ideal size for an NFL strong safety (he’s just under 6’0, under 200 pounds), his aggressiveness and ability to filter through blocks in pursuit was fantastic to watch last season. If he can flash more ability to attack in the passing game in the middle of the field, he could develop into a solid draft pick come 2014 draft.
10. Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
The second of two tight ends on the Stanford roster, Ertz has a bit more of Coby Fleener in hin than Toilolo does. Ertz has some more developed routes in the short area while also still having the size and concentration to attack the seam. Not quite the blocker that Toilolo is (he’s 20 pounds lighter as well), he could be the more productive statistically of the two.