The way the world works in sports media these days is the minute that one major sporting event is over there has to be a “way too early” prediction about that sporting event for next year. After a championship game the way too early power rankings come out. And after a draft the way too early mock drafts are unleashed. That means you’ll see several of them lurking about the interwebs this morning.
The Washington Huskies should be at least a very good if not exceptional team in 2018. The reason for that is evident when you start thinking about which Dawgs may be entering the NFL in 2019. Here’s a look at which Huskies will have a shot at getting drafted next year.
OT Trey Adams, Sr. - 6’8, 331
Adams is the most common Husky to appear on early mocks and will have the best chance to be the first Dawg off the board next April. Here’s a listing of 2019 mock drafts and where they list Adams.
Charlie Campbell of Walter Football- 4th to the Texans
R.J White of CBS Sports- 7th to the Buccaneers
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report- 7th to the Cardinals
Walter of Walter Football- 8th to the Jets
Dan Kadar of SB Nation- 14th to the Seahawks.
The Walter Football mocks note that they had teams tell them that Adams likely would’ve been a 1st round pick this year even with the uncertainty over the torn ACL. Still, Adams will have to prove that he’s fully recovered from that injury to live up to that kind of draft position. He has the raw talent to do so but a top-7 pick is based on projection rather than performance at this point in his career. Adams was 1st team all Pac-12 as a sophomore but only played in 7 games before the ACL tear and so was held off of any post-season honor lists in 2017. He has all of the tools but if Adams isn’t dominant this season returning from injury then any team taking him will still have to assume a little bit of risk.
S Taylor Rapp, Jr. - 6’0, 207
Let’s get this out of the way now. Of course I want to see Taylor Rapp return for his senior year because it means the Huskies will be a better team. Luckily, the NFL drafts more on production than potential so if a player leaves early to get drafted it usually means they were a stud for you on the field first. And Rapp has certainly been that. The 2019 Walter Football mock above has Rapp going 31st to the Steelers. Jon Wilner has Rapp 3rd among Pac-12 players in draft ranking although he doesn’t try to put them into any kind of mock draft.
Rapp is a little undersized for a true safety but he has plenty of versatility as the Huskies used him as a nickel corner a fair amount this year. After taking over for Budda Baker’s do it all hybrid role this season I think Rapp will follow in his footsteps and be a late 1st/early 2nd round pick. He led the team in the 3 cone drill at the Husky combine with a time of 6.57 seconds. If accurate, according to mockdraftable.com that would be the 4th best time for any safety in the last 20 years at the combine. Even if his time is 6.7 it would put him as an athlete with truly elite agility at safety. Budda had a time of 6.76 which was in the 83rd percentile of safeties. In an NFL increasingly moving away from safeties like Kam Chancellor concussing receivers coming over the middle and towards yards after the catch and running backs motioning into the slot, having an athlete like Rapp in the middle of the field is increasingly valuable.
OT Kaleb McGary, Redshirt Sr. - 6’8, 325
There was heavy speculation that McGary might leave for the draft this year but he ultimately decided to stay for his final year of eligibility. McGary has been the starter at right tackle for Washington ever since halfway through his freshman year and started every game the past two seasons. He was named an all-conference 1st team selection for his play in 2017. Wilner lists McGary as his 4th best Pac-12 draft prospect for next year ahead of Adams mostly because there aren’t the same injury concerns. McGary isn’t as fluid of an athlete as Adams but he has the size to anchor someone’s right side for a long time.
DT Greg Gaines, Sr. - 6’2, 313
Gaines was another surprising but welcome returner as it didn’t seem he had much left to prove. The Husky big man tore his PCL during the season and it led to a down year on his part. If he can come back healthy and show the same strength and ability to take on double teams that he did in his sophomore season then he should be a 3rd or 4th round pick. Despite the injury he was still a 2nd team all-conference selection a year ago and an honorable mention pick playing behind Elijah Qualls and Vita Vea the year before.
CB Jordan Miller, Sr. - 6’1, 180
Miller was the top corner in the conference per Pro Football Focus in 2017 as opposing QB’s had just a 21.1 passer rating on throws to the receiver he was covering. Unfortunately, Miller broke his leg on the final play of the loss to Arizona State which ended his season. If he comes back fully healthy and plays at the same level next year in a full season you can expect his name to shoot up draft boards. If he is having to play his way into shape and doesn’t look quite the same then he’ll either be a late round pick or a UDFA.
CB Byron Murphy, Redshirt So. - 5’11, 184
It would be a bit of a shame for Husky fans if Murphy left for the draft next season considering it would mean he only got in one full season playing for the Huskies. The corner out of Arizona was the highest rated recruit that Petersen had gotten at Washington at the time of his signing and so he has an incredibly strong pedigree. After one redshirt year Murphy showed he was a stud from day one on the field with a pair of interceptions in his career debut at Rutgers.
However, he missed 7 games in the middle of the year with a broken foot sustained in practice which tested Washington’s depth at the position being down both corners after Miller’s injury. He returned before the end of the year and was a little rusty but rounded back into form. Murphy finished the season with 3 picks, 10 passes defended, and a forced fumble in just 6 games. Opposing QB’s had a passer rating of just 44 when throwing at Murphy’s guy.
RB Myles Gaskin, Sr. - 5’10, 191
No one would’ve faulted Gaskin for declaring for the 2017 draft but boy are Husky fans glad to see him back for one more go around. From a draft perspective there isn’t really anything that Gaskin can do at this point to raise his stock except improve his pass catching and pass blocking abilities. Gaskin made 1st team all-conference in 2016 and 2nd team all-conference in 2017 despite putting up better numbers. Without Royce Freeman and Ronald Jones it will be the Gaskin and Bryce Love show in the conference at running back. Gaskin is listed as having run a 4.44 at the Husky combine which would place him in the 88th percentile among running backs. My guess is that number will actually be closer to a 4.5 but Gaskin will likely be a mid to late round pick next year. Having an extra year of experience (and tread on the tires) at a position with an incredibly short shelf life will be viewed as a negative rather than a bonus.
QB Jake Browning, Sr. - 6’2, 206
Oh yeah, this guy. Browning has been a 4-year starter at Washington which is incredibly rare in this day and age. He has clear physical limitations that suggest he won’t be a starter in the NFL. But the comp people always throw around is Kellen Moore and Moore made a lot of money as a perennial backup. If we find out that Browning struggled recovering from off-season shoulder surgery before 2017 more than we thought and he has some extra zip in 2018 that leads to another Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year award then he’ll have a shot as a mid-round pick. Browning has passed for 9,105 yards with 78 TDs to just 24 INTs with an extra 12 rushing TDs to this point in his career.
Other Potential Draftees
TE Drew Sample, Sr. - 6’5, 261
S JoJo McIntosh, Sr. - 6’1, 211
DL Jaylen Johnson, Sr. - 6’3, 294