As the fourth ranked high school football prospect in America and a 5 star recruit, it wouldn't have been that difficult to predict that Shaq Thompson was going to one day be a first round NFL Draft pick. If you predicted 3 star quarterback Marcus Mariota was going to be a first round pick coming out of high school, you would easily deserve to be ranked over Miss Cleo in terms of your psychic ability.
The same goes for if you thought Demarious Randall was going to be a first round pick as a safety back when he was a corner at Mesa Community College or if you thought future Washington Huskies Danny Shelton and Marcus Peters were going to end up being top 15 picks in the NFL. These three along with Mariota were all 3 star recruits coming out of high school or junior college yet they all ended up on the same level as the other five first round picks from the Pac-12 that were taken in the 2015 NFL Draft, each of whom was seen as a blue chip prospect before they got to college.
Pointing out that four of the nine Pac-12 players that were taken in the first round last Thursday were 3 stars is not my attempt to point out flaws with recruiting rankings. It's just me pointing out that it's entirely possible for your team's 3 star recruits to one day be in the same shoes as Mariota, Shelton, Peters, and Randall. There are several 2015 Pac-12 recruits that I think could one day follow in the footsteps of those four and share an uncomfortable bear hug with Roger Goodell.
There are reasons why these players aren't highly touted right now, but I see traits that could make them highly touted in a three or four years when they are being looked at as prospects for the pro level. Most of these players likely won't be high picks, but I see potential in them that they could.
Defensive tackle - Elu Aydon (Oregon State)
At 6'2" and weighing in around 315, there is no questioning that Aydon should have the physical characteristics of an NFL prospect after he spends some time in the Beavers strength and conditioning program. He's going to be a massive dude.
The native of American Samoa is extremely raw in terms of his technique, but the power he plays with jumps out at you. His ceiling is ridiculously high at nose tackle and I could see him possibly moving to guard on offense as well and becoming a mauling run blocker. He plays mean and should get exponentially better during his time in Corvallis.
Offensive tackle - Nick Carman (Utah)
The Utes are rarely pulling in 4 and 5 star talent, but they have been really good at identifying and developing lower rated talent. I think they did a great job landing Carman and I loved his senior film. He has really light feet and likely has a future as a left tackle. There never seems to be enough good left tackles in the NFL and Carman could end up surprising a lot of people with his athleticism at the position.
Safety - Kameron Powell (Washington State)
The 2015 recruiting class didn't finish like Mike Leach and his staff wanted it to for the Cougs, but they were able to hold onto Powell. He's a very physical player that has a knack for creating turnovers and has a GPS for the football.
Deone Buchanan was a former 3 star recruit that was a first round pick in 2014. It wouldn't surprise me if Powell's career at Washington State mirrored that of Buchanan.
Athlete - DePriest Turner (Cal)
Turner was originally committed to Duke as a quarterback before eventually flipping to the Bears because he thought his future would be brighter on defense. I feel the same way. He is a big time athlete. The kind of athlete Cal badly needed in their secondary.
This one is purely based on his athletic upside because I didn't see enough of him on defense to say what I truly think he is going to be. I just know that he is a great athlete and and has the physical tools that could translate into an NFL future.
Safety - Nathan Meadors (UCLA)
This is another player who starred more as a quarterback than on defense in high school. He showed enough on defense though for programs like UCLA, Oregon, and Notre Dame to be excited about his future.
He is a fluid athlete that can lay the wood as a tackler as well. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on his career as it progresses with the Bruins.
Athlete - Quinten Pounds (Washington)
Pounds is one of the few prospects that I could legitimately see become a very good player on offense or defense. It's rare to see a player that is smooth with his movement, yet also explosive with his speed. Right now he is slim and needs to get a lot stronger. He'll have some time do so with the Huskies.
We know that Chris Petersen and his staff have coached up underrated talent before that turned into NFL players. I could see Pounds being another on the list.
Edge player - Gabe Reid (Stanford)
Reid was one of my favorite recruits in this entire class. He doesn't have the ideal height (6'2") or length that most programs want in an edge rusher, but he fits the prototype of a twitchy athlete. He is so quick and explosive with his first step and shows the ability to dip and bend like few others can.
He might end up taking a two year mission so his NFL future could be a long way away, but I think he has the rare athletic qualities that can make up for being undersized.
Linebacker - Jonah Moi (Oregon)
Moi is coming from the junior college ranks so he will have less time to have an impact in the Pac-12 before his NFL opportunity will come up. That's okay though because I think he has the ability to step in and make an impact from day one when he gets to Oregon.
Athletic tools are one thing, but he has great instincts and recognition skills to go with it. He is the kind of player that should never have to leave the field and should be creating buzz during his first season with the Ducks.
Defensive Tackle - Kevin Scott (USC)
Scott is actually the lowest rated player to sign with USC in their outstanding recruiting class, but his potential is as great as just about anyone. It's easy to say 5 star defensive tackle Rasheem Green may be a first round pick one day, but Scott could end up being on the same level as Green by the time they both leave USC.
Scott's senior film is awesome. He flashes freakish athleticism. In anyone else's recruiting class in the Pac-12, he would be hailed as a gigantic steal, but he was overshadowed by all of the elite talent USC brought in this year. A few years from now, it would not surprise me at all to see him mentioned before some other higher rated players in this same recruiting class.