Do you go for the best overall player, or for your biggest need? Well, it depends on the team. I don’t believe the Huskies have any position that looks like a major weakness that needs an immediate talent infusion. Maybe quarterback, because it is a complete mystery, and it doesn’t sound like a clear #1 has separated - but right now I would wager Kevin Thompson is the guy.
Based on last season, you could also include inside linebacker and wide receiver, but looking at the roster, there are a lot of talented pieces. And I’m not sure there is an obvious WR or MLB choice from Pac-12 teams that we could plug in and would instantly become the #1. Maybe one of the USC receivers, like Amon-Ra St. Brown? OLB Hamilcar Rashed at Oregon State would certainly improve the linebacking corps, but the outside is the relative strength of that unit, right now. Nate Landman from Colorado, perhaps?
I will only be selecting from currently available Pac-12 players. Otherwise, I would probably pick Penei Sewell and just be done with it. I have a lot of faith in Jaxson Kirkland as our LT, but adding a talent like Sewell would take our already pretty good offensive line to the next level. Thankfully, he won’t be playing for Oregon either.
Here are my choices:
QB Kedon Slovis - USC
He is probably the best returning quarterback in the conference, along with Jayden Daniels at Arizona State. He knows how to spread the ball around, and is accurate, completing over 70% of his passes. And it’s not just “easy” air raid completions - he completed 62% of his passes that traveled at least 10 yards. That’s number one in the country, and 20% higher than the next best quarterback.
The Huskies have some intriguing pieces under center, from the athletic and big armed Jacob Sirmon, to 8th year senior Kevin Thompson, to the savvy Dylan Morris. There is certainly tons of potential for one of those options to take the reins, but I’m not sure the coaches would have gotten Kevin Thompson if they felt great about their options. They also tried to nab JT Daniels and KJ Costello, who ended up and Georgia and Mississippi State, respectively. That doesn’t seem like a coaching staff that is thrilled with their QB options. Or maybe they just wanted increased competition. But, introducing a bonafide Pac-12 starter could really unlock this offense and “activate” the playmakers outside like Puka Nacua, Ty Jones, Terrell Bynum, and true freshman Rome Odunze. Assuming new OC John Donovan’s offense isn’t a complete disaster, it really feels like a good QB is all it will take to bring this offense to at least Pac-12 Championship level. With our defense, I would say top 3 in the conference in points per game is that level.
DE/EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux - Oregon
Defense is not where this team needs help. But you simply can’t ignore a player like KT and think he won’t contribute. When Joe Tryon opted out of the season, the Huskies lost one of their most exciting pass rushers, and a player who looked primed to break out this season. As it stands, they will be relying on 5th senior Ryan Bowman, second year Liatu Latu, 280 pound Zion Tupuola Fatui, and true freshman Sav’ell Smalls. That is certainly a deep group to choose from, but I’m not sure has a big time difference maker. Bowman will continue to be a valuable contributor, and I expect big things from Latu (and to a lesser extent ZTF) in his second year rushing the passer. Sav’ell Smalls is obviously an exciting player too, and it sounds like the coaches have loved his intensity and pass rush skills so far in camp. While I expect him to be in the rotation this year and disrupt offenses, we haven’t seen it yet so it is just speculation at this point.
This is a very good unit with a high ceiling, as it stands. It would be even better with Joe Tryon. And it would be AMAZING with Kayvon Thibodeaux. He is an elite level talent that got 9 sacks as a true freshman last year and would not only help absorb the loss of Joe Tryon, but likely elevate the entire unit.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown - USC
You can never have enough offensive playmakers in modern college football. Remember John Ross? I’m as excited as anyone for the talented and highly recruited WRs to get their chance, and the Sean McGrew - Cam Davis - Richard Newton running back group should be a productive trio. Cam Davis might end up being really, really good. But do we know with absolute certainty we have a Pac-12 Offensive POY candidate on our team? That’s why I’m going with Amon-Ra St. Brown. He’s the type of WR and competitor that would thrive on any team and his 77 catches for 1,042 yards and 6 TDs would likely put him in contention for the first option outside. Also, he’s a shoe in for the All-Name team, which is a nice bonus.
And the Draftee Is...
I have to go with Slovis. In 2020 college football, you need points. And a great quarterback makes any offense good. That Cal defense that the Huskies haven’t been able to figure out? He eviscerated them with 400 yards and 4 TDs and an eye popping 82% completion. He also put up good numbers against strong defenses like Iowa and Notre Dame, though both games were losses. He’s not perfect: 9 interceptions is a few too many, even with 30 TDs, and he takes too many sacks. But you can’t tell me this offense wouldn’t be that much better with a proven and productive Pac-12 quarterback.
I thought about a running back, possibly Jermar Jefferson or CJ Verdell - both great players - but I think the returns of a big time QB would elevate this offense more than another running back. A great WR like St. Brown would be huge for the Husky offense, but I think there is enough talent around whoever starts at QB that adding another playmaker is a lower priority right now. I thought about inside linebacker too - but the best option right now is probably Nate Landman from Colorado. He’s very productive and has good instincts, but I don’t think he’s at the level that would transform our inside linebacking unit. The other players on this list could.
Who would you choose?
Which Pac-12 Player Would You Add to the Huskies?
This poll is closed
QB Kedon Slovis
DE/EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown