The best Pac-12 underclassmen who turned down the 2014 NFL Draft

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Mariota wasn't the only talented Pac-12 player to say no to the NFL this year.

  1. Marcus Mariota So. QB Oregon

Mariota could have realistically been the first pick in the 2014 draft but decided to give it another go at Oregon and polish his game along with chase a national championship and Heisman.

Impact for Oregon - Mariota's return makes the Ducks the unquestioned leading candidate to the win the Pac-12 in 2014 and a major national title contender.

Where he would have gone - Top five, possibly top overall to Houston.

  1. Brett Hundley So. QB UCLA

Hundley probably has the best physical package of any quarterback who could have declared for the 2014 draft, but has a lot of holes in his consistency and mental game and will return for his senior year to try and polish them and get the Bruins their first conference championship in more than 15 years.

Impact for UCLA - Hundley's return makes the Bruins the favorite to win the Pac-12 South and a potential Top 10 preseason team nationally.

Where he would have gone - Somewhere between 3-10, probably not getting past Minnesota at number eight.

  1. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Jr. CB Oregon

The Pac-12's top cornerback in 2013 is returning for his senior season even though he was almost a guaranteed first round draft pick likely because he is very young for his class, would like to graduate and to chase a national championship.

Impact for Oregon - Getting Ekpre-Olomu back was a huge score for the Ducks as he might be best cornerback in the entire country next season and they lost their other starting cornerback Terrance Mitchell to the draft early and Troy Hill's future is completely uncertain after getting arrested

Where he would have gone - Mid to late first round.

  1. Hroniss Grasu Jr. C Oregon

Arguably the nation's top center as just a junior, Grasu is a hardnosed lineman that spearheads the Ducks' prolific run game and keeps Mariota relatively untouched in pass protection.

Impact for Oregon - Grasu's return means that the Duck's should have one of the best offensive lines in the nation again as they return all of their primary starters.

Where he would have gone - Mid to late second round.

  1. Jaelen Strong So. WR Arizona State

A huge, ridiculously athletic receiver who put up great numbers in 2013, Strong emerged as the best "big" receiver in the Pac-12 has a complete package of skills that should make him the conference's best overall receiver in 2014.

Impact for Arizona State - Strong's return will be huge for Taylor Kelly, giving him the best pass-catching weapon in the conference, especially since they are losing Marion Grice and Chris Coyle.

Where he would have gone - Mid to late second round.

  1. Henry Anderson Jr. DE Stanford

Anderson is a monster at 6'6 295 versatile defensive lineman that can play end or tackle that was a key part of the Cardinal's fearsome front season the past couple of seasons and could be the best defensive lineman in the conference next season after USC's Leonard Williams.

Impact for Stanford - With Ben Gardner, Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov and Josh Mauro gone, they really needed Anderson to come back with his talent and experience to maintain the strength of their front.

Where he would have gone - Late second to early third round.

  1. Hayes Pullard Jr. LB USC

One of the biggest hitters in the conference and a stout presence in the middle, Pullard is one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12.

Impact for USC - Pullard will be the leader of the USC defense in 2014, returning for his senior year and is much needed as they lost defensive end George Uko and safety Dion Bailey early to the draft and don't have a ton of young talent at linebacker.

Where he would have gone - Mid to late third round.

  1. Ty Montgomery Jr. WR Stanford

The Pac-12's most electric return man is a unique athlete because he is an absolute blazer but also 215 pounds with the ability to run over defenders. He is one of the most dangerous players in the entire conference once he gets the ball.

Impact for Stanford - The Cardinal desperately need a playmaker like Montgomery because their scoring ability is incredibly limited otherwise.

Where he would have gone - Mid to late fourth round.

  1. Jordan Richards Jr. S Stanford

The safety other than Ed Reynolds at Stanford is already very good and especially strong in run defense with his strength at 210 pounds.

Impact for Stanford - The Cardinal really need Richards back after losing Reynolds early to the draft, especially if he can improve his pass defense.

Where he would have gone - Early to mid fifth round.

  1. Sean Mannion Jr. QB Oregon State

One of the nation's best players in the first half of the season, Mannion was a Heisman candidate until Oregon State's schedule strengthened and he came back to Earth. Still, he was one of the better quarterbacks in the conference in 2013.

Impact for Oregon State - The Beavers are trying to stay out of the bottom of the North, so they really needed Mannion back to steer the ship out of troubled waters, especially after losing star receiver Brandin Cooks early to the draft.

Where he would have gone - Early to mid fifth round.

  1. Eric Kendricks Jr. LB UCLA

A strong linebacker that does nothing but rack up tackles, Kendricks was overshadowed by Anthony Barr and Myles Jack in 2013, but is one of the best linebackers in the conference.

Impact for UCLA - Kendricks keeps the Bruins' linebacking unit very strong paired with the return of Jack.

Where he would have gone - Mid to late fifth round.

  1. Danny Shelton Jr. DT Washington

Shelton is one of the most underrated players in the conference and a big part of why the Huskies had a good run defense in 2013 as a plugger in the middle.

Impact for Washington - The Huskies really needed Shelton to come back as he is the only big defensive tackle that they have and the key to their defense.

Where he would have gone - Mid to late fifth round.

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