Starting Friday, 39 participants from the Pac-12 will join hundreds of draft prospects from other conferences — we hear a few are from the SEC — for four days of on-field workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The NFL Network, which will broadcast every minute of it, made lead analyst Daniel Jeremiah available on a teleconference Monday.
(Jeremiah takes over for Mike Mayock, who left the TV booth to become the Raiders’ GM.)
The Hotline jumped on the call and asked Jeremiah, who lives in Southern California, an opened-ended question.
Because the conference doesn’t have a high-profile quarterback in the draft, I wanted to know what — or who — had resonated most deeply with Jeremiah after his film study:
Q: What are your thoughts on the Pac-12’s group of prospects at the combine, and is there anybody in particular you’re looking to see?
He took that question and made a beeline for Seattle:
“I continue to be impressed with Chris Petersen and the Washington program. When you look at the job that he’s done of identifying players and developing players and pushing them out, it seems like every year they continue to do it.
“You look at the secondary, all the guys they’ve had picked over the last several years. They’ve got another one coming up in (cornerback) Byron Murphy who’s got a chance to be a first-round pick. He’s very, very instinctive, great ball skills, he’s tough. I don’t think he’s going to run as fast as some of the other corners they’ve had in recent years, and that maybe will drop him into the second round, but that’s somebody that I’m a big fan of.
“Taylor Rapp, the safety from Washington — again, I keep using the same words, but instinctive. They do a great job there of identifying really natural, instinctive football players, and Taylor Rapp is somebody who doesn’t miss tackles. He can play a variety of positions. You can play him as a nickelback or he could play a little bit over the slot if you wanted him to. He could be a high safety, could be a force player. He’s just a really, really good player.
“And then Kaleb McGary is another one, the big tackle there at Washington, who’s played on the right side. If you sort through the medical stuff there — he’s had a heart issue — but he’s almost 6’7”, 320 pounds. He’s quick, he’s strong, he’s tough. There is a lot to work with with him. To me when I watch him, he reminds me a little bit of (Andrew) Whitworth watching him at LSU where you kind of envision and you maybe could see where that was going with him. To me, McGary is somebody that has that type of upside and ability.
“In terms of the conference as a whole, just been really, really impressed with that group and what they’ve done up there at that school.”
Washington has nine players in Indianapolis, a quarter of the Pac-12 participants. The total (39) is the lowest in years:
2015: 442016: 492017: 472018: 452019: 39
(The full list is below.)
We’ll be tracking all the Pac-12 players over the weekend. Here are four storylines of particular intrigue:
Justin Hollins’ numbers.
Oregon’s outside linebacker/edge rusher has a chance to post an eye-opening 40-yard dash for his frame (6-foot-5, 243 pounds) and become one of the breakout stars of the combine.
A solid player for the Ducks (honorable-mention all-conference), Hollins is currently slotted for the late rounds. By the end of the weekend, that could change.
Also in his favor: He plays a position of immense value.
No offensive lineman has generated more pre-draft buzz, or done more to boost his stock, than Washington State’s Andre Dillard.
“Used to be we tried to avoid offensive linemen from the Air Raid, but they’ve done a nice job of finding this kid and developing him,” Jeremiah said. “And Dillard is a big-time dude.”
Can Dillard, projected for the middle of the first round, do enough to maintain all the ground he has covered?
Or will something surface that gives scouts pause and causes him to drop?
The big WRs.
ASU’s N’Keal Harry is 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds. Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside is 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds. Both could be picked early. Both are physical, with good hands. Both could have long, productive careers.
But how will they run?
For both, the initial burst — the first 10 or 20 yards — will be scrutinized, perhaps more than the full 40.
If they can convince scouts of their ability to get off the line of scrimmage quickly, to gain separation, the second round awaits. If they don’t show much burst, the third or fourth round could be their destiny.
Last year, the Pac-12 had two quarterbacks picked in the top 10.
This year, it might not have any quarterbacks picked in the top 100.
Washington’s Jake Browning is a late-round pick, at best.
ASU’s Manny Wilkins wasn’t invited.
Only Washington State’s Gardner Minshew, currently pegged for the middle rounds, is a likely selection.
“He’s accurate, especially underneath-intermediate,” Jeremiah said. “He’s got a quick mind. You see him work through the progressions well. Arm strength just average, size just average, but he’s somebody I know talking to the folks that got to be around him at the Senior Bowl that they just love being around him.
“He’s the kind of guy you want in the building, and absolutely I think he’ll get drafted. I wouldn’t be opposed if somebody decided to do that in the first round. I think you’ve got somebody that’s got some skills you can work with going forward there.”
Here’s the list of participants, with recruiting stars assigned by Rivals when the players were high school seniors.
Arizona StateWR N’Keal Harry (5 stars)DL Renell Wren (3)
ColoradoS Evan Worthington (3)
OregonS Ugo Amadi (4)LB Justin Hollins (3)DL Jalen Jelks (3)WR Dillon Mitchell (4)
StanfordWR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (3)K Jake Bailey (2)OL Nate Herbig (3)CB Alijah Holder (3)RB Bryce Love (4)LB Bobby Okereke (4)TE Kaden Smith (4)
UCLAOL Andre James (4)TE Caleb Wilson (2)
USCLB Cam Smith (4)OL Chuma Edoga (4)LB Porter Gustin (5)CB Iman Marshall (5)S Marvell Tell (4)
UtahOL Jackson Barton (4)LB Chase Hansen (4)LB Cody Barton (3)K Matt Gay N/AS Marquise Blair (3)P Mitch Wishnowsky (2)
WashingtonQB Jake Browning (4)LB Ben Burr-Kirven (3)DL Greg Gaines (3)RB Myles Gaskin (3)OL Kaleb McGary (4)CB Jordan Miller (3)CB Byron Murphy (4)TE Drew Sample (2)S Taylor Rapp (3)
Washington StateOT Andre Dillard (2)QB Gardner Minshew (0)RB James Williams (3)
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