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Top Pac-12 players who spurned the 2016 NFL Draft

These players could have declared for the 2016 Draft and been picked.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Early declarations for the 2016 NFL Draft have come and gone and a wealth of talented Pac-12 players chose to return to school even though they had a great shot at heading to the next level and making money.

There are plenty of players like Christian McCaffrey and Juju Smith-Schuster who cannot declare, but here are the best that could have declared.

1. Luke Falk Jr. QB Washington State

Falk isn't a Jared Goff-type franchise quarterback shoe-in, but he has solid size and excellent accuracy that could make him a starter at the next level and as a redshirt sophomore, he could have started working on the NFL dream this year, especially considering he had some head injury issues at the end of the season. The great news for Mike Leach and the Cougars is Falk is back for at least another year to attack the Pac-12 record book.

Where could he have gone? Fifth or sixth round.

2. Gabe Marks Sr. WR Washington State

Marks is the only Pac-12 player coming back in 2016 who could have declared that I think should have. A fourth-year player who has proven almost everything he can as a receivers, I was shocked he opted to return for his senior season. Cougar fans and coaches have to be thrilled with his decision as he should team with Falk again to torch Pac-12 defenses.

Where could he have gone? Fourth or fifth round.

3. Zach Banner Sr. T USC

The 6'9 360-pound monster finally put it all together in 2015 and made first-team All-Pac-12. Guys with those measurements who are good enough to be first-team all-conference players usually head to the NFL as soon as possible, but I think Banner knows a victory lap in 2016 as a first-team All-American could bump him up to a first rounder.

Where could he have gone? Second or third round.

4. Eddie Vanderdoes Jr. DT UCLA

The Bruins were hit hard when Vanderdoes went down for the season right at the start of the 2015 season with an ACL tear, especially considering, like Myles Jack, he could have just declared  for the draft. The Bruins scored big when he decided to come back as he could easily be the conference's best defensive player if he improves and is fully healthy in 2016.

Where could he have gone? Third or fourth round.

5. Conor McDermott Sr. T UCLA

UCLA's version of Banner, McDermott is 6'9 310 and was an All-Pac-12 selection in 2015. Like Banner, he is coming back likely knowing another year of polish could turn him into a first round pick since he has the build of an NBA center, but plays tackle.

Where could he have gone? Third or fourth round.

6. Darren Carrington Jr. WR Oregon

Carrington made second-team All-Pac-12 despite missing half of 2015 due to suspension and I have to wonder if he would have had the full season to load up his stats, if he would have pulled the trigger on the NFL as a redshirt sophomore. Regardless, Carrington is back in 2016 with the chance to prove himself for an entire season and he could easily be the conference's third-best receiver.

Where could he have gone? Fourth or fifth round.

7. Chad Wheeler Sr. T USC

Not sure what will happen with Wheeler in 2016 after an incident in December sent him to a psychological evaluation and caused him to miss the Holiday Bowl. If Wheeler comes back to play his senior season in 2016, the 6'7 280 tackle will team with Banner to form maybe the nation's best tackle duo and could play himself into being a second or third round pick.

Where could he have gone? Fourth or fifth round.

8. J.J. Dielman Sr. T Utah

An all-conference selection with solid size, Dielman certainly would have gotten drafted after his junior year. He is back though for one more year with the opportunity to be a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and get into the better half of the draft.

Where he could have gone? Fifth or sixth round.

9. Salamo Fiso Sr. LB Arizona State

One of the conference's most-aggressive players who makes a ton of plays in the backfield and hits hard, he already plays like an NFL outside linebacker. He will move himself up draft boards if he replicates his junior season as a senior and is among the nation's leading tacklers for-loss.

Where could he have gone? Fourth or fifth round.

10. Shalom Luani Sr. S Washington State

The former rugby star from  New Zealand made a huge impact on the football field with the Cougars in 2015. He has huge potential so he could have headed to the league but returns to Pullman with the chance to be a first-team All-Pac-12er in 2016.

Where he could have gone? Fifth of sixth round.

11. Randall Goforth Sr. S UCLA

Goforth is quietly one of the best defensive backs in the Pac-12 and is one of those players who seems like he has been in college for ages. He is back for another year though and will be the leader of a UCLA defense that should be very good in 2016.

Where could he have gone? Sixth or seventh round.

12. Deon Hollins Sr.  LB UCLA

Hollins stepped up when Myles Jack went out and ended up being the Bruins' best  linebacker in 2015. He is adept at  making plays in the backfield and could lead the conference in sacks and/or tackles-for-loss in 2016.

Where could he have gone? Sixth or seventh round.