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Top preseason Pac-12 NFL Draft prospects: Pac-12 players to keep an eye on this season

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Sam Darnold is the favorite to be the top draft pick in 2018.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
  1. Sam Darnold So. QB USC

The pressure is huge on Darnold going into 2017, but it’s for a reason. He could easily be the next John Elway to come out of the Pac-12. He simply has the best package of tools of any quarterback in this draft. The big question might be if he will consider leaving after just his sophomore season.

2. Vita Vea Jr. DT Washington

Not a household name now, but he should be by the end of the season. The 6’5 340 defensive lineman is athletic enough to be a Top 10 pick and was dominant against Alabama’s front in the Peach Bowl.

3. Josh Rosen Jr. QB UCLA

The Rosen hype took a year off, but all it will take is some health, wins and productivity to get it right back on track. He isn’t far behind Darnold in the NFL QB hierarchy and might be the best pure passer eligible for the 2018 draft.

4. Iman Marshall Jr. CB USC

Marshall hasn’t put together a big season yet, but he has first round corner written all over him. He is over six foot and over 200 pounds with five-star athleticism. He could be a better pure corner than Adoree’ Jackson if he puts it all together.

5. Cameron Smith Jr. LB USC

Smith isn’t a world class athlete, but he has excellent size at 6’2 245 and a track record as one of the best inside linebackers in the country. He could work his way into the end of the first round.

6. Trey Adams Jr. T Washington

6’8 320, three-year starter with an All-Pac-12 track record. He is one of the top offensive line prospects in the nation coming into 2017.

7. Porter Gustin Jr. DE USC

The Pac-12’s scariest edge player. Gustin has the athleticism to play linebacker at 6’5 265, but also has the size to lock up with tackles and defend the run. He has major first round potential.

8. Quenton Meeks Jr. CB Stanford

Another six foot, two hundred pound plus corner with ball skills and athleticism. Like Marshall, the sky is the limit for Meeks and he could end up in the better half of the first round if he plays well enough.

9. Royce Freeman Sr. RB Oregon

Hard to peg Freeman. He seemed like a surefire first round pick early in his career and has ideal size at 5’11 230, but he has a lot of mileage, injury issues and struggled last season when Oregon, and their young offensive line, weren’t rolling. He can lock in as at least a second rounder though by putting up 1,000 yards in 2017.

10. Dante Pettis Sr. WR Washington

Another hard to peg prospect. Pettis is one of the most-productive receivers in college football coming back, but will have to prove himself sans John Ross in 2017. He isn’t a burner, but is a world class leaper with deceptive athleticism which could put him at the top of draft boards.

11. Ronald Jones Jr. RB USC

Jones has a deadly combination of size, speed and production. He isn’t huge like Freeman, but he has nice bulk, but also has major home run ability whenever he gets the ball.

12. Azeem Victor Sr. LB Washington

Has the size and proven track record needed to be a standout linebacker at the next level. NFL scouts will love his leadership and locker room abilities as well as his ability to punish offensive players and be where the ball is.

Others to watch

Myles Gaskin Jr. RB Washington

Luke Falk Sr. QB Washington State

Jake Browning Jr. QB Washington

Rasheem Green Jr. DT USC

Lowell Lotulelei Sr. DT Utah