I am going to start this year off by looking at a SI article by Chris Burke that came out this week. He listed the top PAC 12 Players in the NFL. You can find that article here: All PAC 12 Alumni. And thanks to Chris Landon for pointing out this article to me. What him and I both notice was that only three players from Washington made the list. With 52 players on the list , I think it shows you why U-Dub football struggled for a decade. I will take a further look at the guys that made the list and delve into players that didn't.
Players on the list
Donald Butler - MLB San Diego
Donald is a nice place to start. We were all fortunate enough to watch Butler in college, and most of us are probably not surprised to see his success. After missing his rookie year with an achilles injury, he has been a starter ever since. Donald was chosen as a captain in 2013 and I am sure will be again. Butler is the QB of the Chargers defense. Donald will be in San Diego for a few more years after signing a new contract last year. An all-pro season is not out of the question.
Marcel Reece - FB Oakland
Ok - so Marcel has played multiple positions and is probably not best defined as strictly a FB. He's still worthy of this list. He has been a versatile member of the Raiders, playing TE, FB and even some tailback. Marcel carried the ball 46 time last year averaging 4.7 ypc. He also caught 32 balls for two TD's. Marcel is an integral part of both the run game and passing game for the Raiders whether he has the ball in his hands or is blocking.
Desmond Trufant - CB Atlanta
A nice little surprise addition to list. Desmond had a nice rookie year on a terrible team. Given how bad Atlanta was and what I saw of Desmond early in the season, I was surprised to find out he finished with such a strong year. The former first round pick could see multiple pro-bowls down the road and have a similar career trajectory to that of his brother.
Other NFL Huskies Who Didn't Make the Cut, But Should Have
Dashon Goldson - S Tampa Bay
Dashon may not have had his best season in 2013, but he was a pro-bowler in 2012. With Lovie Smith taking over in Tampa we could see Dashon have another great year. Known as a hard hitter with multiple fines in his career you wonder if the new rules are impacting his production. The four players ahead of Dashon are great players too. But I am sure us Dawg fan could eliminate one of them to get Goldson on the list. I look forward to the comments.
Mason Foster - LB Tampa Bay
It's a harder argument to have Mason on the list but I felt the desire to include him with his teammate Goldson, Mason has been a consistent starter for the Bucs since joining the league. He's recorded 200 tackles over the past two years and he scored two defensive TDs last season. He's a young, emerging playmaker and an entrenched starter for one of the better defenses in the NFL.
Future list members (non-rookies)
Jake Locker - QB Tennessee
Many people are saying this is a make or break year for Montlake Jake. Locker started to shows signs of becoming an above-average QB when healthy last year, and so far the new coaching staff says that they are impressed. Take that with a grain of salt, but Jake will be given the opportunity to succeed this year. If he can stay healthy, I anticipate the Titans will commit to keep Locker around. Ken Whisenhunt has a strong track record with QBs and he appears to have a plan to take advantage of Jake's multiple skills. The number of excellent QB's from the PAC 12 is lengthy and will take a lot for Jake to make this list in the future. But, given both his work ethic and the pieces that he has around him in Tennessee, it is feasible.
Chris Polk - RB Philadelphia
All of us were surprised when Polk went undrafted. None of us will be surprised if he eventually becomes an impact player. Chris should be the primary backup to LeSean McCoy this year and will be one play away from being the starter on a high-powered offense. Chris scored 3 TDs on just 11 carries last year, demonstrating that the Eagles like him at the goal line. I am a firm believer that if Chris can get an opportunity to start, he will make the most of it.
Jermaine Kearse - WR Seattle
I wouldn't have thought about putting Chop Chop on the list until Doug Baldwin's name popped up. Jermaine became a bigger and bigger part of the Super Bowl Champion's offense as the season went on in 2013. Although Baldwin currently is a bigger piece of their offense, Kearse has the potential to really benefit from the departure of Golden Tate. The Seahawks drafted a burner in Paul Richardson, a playmaker who could push Kearse into the background. But I wouldn't surprised to see Kearse become a starter going forward.
Bishop Sankey - RB Tennessee
Bishop was the first RB taken and is still not getting respect from many national writers. Bishop earned the top RB honor by having a great combine to match his great Husky career. Combining with Jake Locker Tennessee will be a team I watch this year. I anticipate Sankey having a nice, quiet 1200 yard season.
Austin Sefarin-Jenkins - TE Tampa Bay
Austin had a great college career and as one of the top pass catching TE's in the draft he should have a great long career. Another great TE in Washington history, a lot of his immediate impact will be based on the QB play at Tampa. I am not sure how I feel about the Bucs bringing in Josh McCown to do the job.
Khalif Barnes - T Oakland
Khalif is going into his 11th year in the league. I believe a starter pretty much the whole time, he will continue to start for the Raiders at RT.
Senio Kelemete - G New Orleans
This may be Senio's last chance to make an NFL roster. He went from Arizona to New Orleans in 2013.
Alameda Ta'amu - DT Arizona
Ta'amu's move from Pittsburgh to Arizona was probably a good one for him. However, he tore his ACL and the end of last season and is unlikely to be ready to start the season.
Travis Coons - K Tennessee
Another former Husky on the Titans roster. Travis will compete for the Titans kicking job in 2014. A clutch performer in college this could be his job to lose.
Greg Ducre - CB San Diego
Greg opened some NFL eyes with his 4.32 40 time. He will have an opportunity to make the practice squad or play on special teams if he makes the squad.
Caesar Rayford - DE Dallas
After a few years playing arena football Caesar finally made a team in 2013. Briefly with the colts at first and then the cowboys. He finished the season on the practice squad.
Kevin Smith - WR Seattle
The signed Smith back in June. Kevin has an uphill battle to make the roster. Hopefully, he can latch on to the practice squad.
That wraps all the Huskies in the NFL. What do you think about the SI article and where I placed UW's Alumni? Should more huskies be on the list? Will any of the rookies be on the list right away?