High School and Recruitment
Coming out of Wenatchee High School in the class of 2015, Trey Adams was a four star prospect measured as a .89 by the 247Sports composite and given a 91 rank by 247Sports’ own analysts. Within the state, Adams was the second ranked offensive lineman after Bellevue’s Henry Roberts, who ended up at UW but whose peak was as a versatile sixth man and never started.
While Roberts was nominally ranked higher, Adams’ rare physical measurements and athleticism showed a potential that would quickly be realized during the first part of his college career. At 6’7,” 270 lbs out of high school and with a basketball background, his frame and reach had the potential to make a prototypical OT, while his agility and movement elevated his potential to elite status.
After a college career that unexpectedly lasted five years (more on that in one second) and included several surgeries, Adams’ numbers coming out of his redshirt senior year are unfortunately worse than the promise he showed as both a recruit and in his first two seasons at UW.
While his frame is still ideal — 6’8” and 318 lbs — his NFL Combine performance reflected the toll of college injuries: a 5.6 second 40 time, 24.5 inch vertical jump, and 93 inch broad jump, and no category where he was a top performer. Considering his past athletic strengths, the decline in his quantitative abilities feels like a big “what-if.”
College and On-Field Analysis
While he didn’t start the first game of his Washington career against Boise State, Adams played for the Dawgs against Sacramento State the next week, started again at left tackle against Utah State by week three, and was clearly the guy at that position going forward. He then went on to start all future games that season until an injury kept him out of the Apple Cup and bowl game against Southern Mississippi. During his true sophomore season in 2016, Adams started every game, was a second team All-American, and anchored a Husky offense as the Dawgs went to the College Football Playoff; it looked like he certainly was on the path to play one more year, enter the NFL Draft, and become Washington’s first first-round offensive lineman pick since Lincoln Kennedy. Just as important, Adams was part of the class of 2015’s core group along with Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin that were instrumental in Washington’s return to prominence.
And, for much of 2017, that seemed to be the case. Adams started all of the games up until the cursed Arizona State matchup that was lost by an offensive implosion and multiple missed chip-in field goals. Thus, his season was over, and the injury was late enough where it wouldn’t heal in time for a fully healthy NFL Combine performance. So he came back, only to require back surgery in the summer that kept him out for most of 2018 before being eased into left tackle and starting in the Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl. With such little tape from 2018, he returned again for 2019, was clearly affected by those previous knee and back injuries, and here we are. While he still received All-Pac-12 first team honors, it felt like much of that was based more on his legacy of excellence and not a current eye test.
Of the core unit that returned Washington to their place, the guy who was most sure to receive a lucrative first round contract, who was most sure to be the first to leave, was the last one left in Husky Stadium with a draft stock that was a fraction of his former projection.
At his best, Adams was physically dominant, had excellent knee bend, quick feet, long reach, and eye-opening agility for someone his size. After his knee and back surgeries, he was often weaker, stiffer, and slower, and at times would get beat by opponents who never would’ve stood a chance against the 2015 or 2016 version of Trey Adams.
As someone who’s obviously rooting for him, the biggest thing I’d pin my hopes on is the fact that, while he played the last few games of 2018 and all of 2019, that really isn’t that far removed from two significant injuries. So, if there is a chance that he would improve or even return partially to his old form, it would be based on the thought that time is your friend where healing’s concerned. Unfortunately, the shadow over that is sports history being littered with cases where that hope is never realized. While I wish very much for him to regain at least some of his mobility and quickness, I also realize that knee and back injuries aren’t conducive to a genuinely full recovery, especially in people of his size and playing his position. Even more stacked against him is that quickness in the trenches isn’t measured by seconds, but by blips of a moment. The difference between Trey Adams having success or failure any given snap is determined by what happens during the blink of an eye.
The problem with looking at Adams is how disparate it was year-to-year and when comparing his performance prior to the big injuries and after. Obviously, the most telling performances as far as NFL teams are concerned is his last year and a bit after injuries set in since those are clearly more prescient regarding his potential. That being said, if you’re an NFL GM wanting to take a chance on him in the later rounds, obviously your angle would be hoping that with time Adams could return to his earlier form or at least near it. Who knows if that’s possible — likely it’s not, but if your team drafts him at a later round and he does overcome his injury history and get his athleticism back to earlier, then you’ve obviously just gotten a huge steal.
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.