Whether or not underclassmen declare for the draft at the end of the season is one of the most-important things in college football these days. With that in mind, here are the Pac-12 underclassmen to keep an eye on in 2017 to see if they will decide to take the leap or not at the end of the season.
JoJo Wicker Jr. DE
The Sun Devils only have one real player to keep an eye on. Wicker is 6’3 275 and was second-team All-Pac-12 in 2016. He’s an NFL style edge player who already has the size to make the jump.
Ryan Nall Jr. RB Oregon State
Nall isn’t going to blow anyone away with a 40 time, but a 6’2 235 running back with nearly 1,500 yards rushing and more than 300 receiving and 18 touchdowns in just two seasons who runs tough will have to at least think hard about the NFL as long as he keeps things humming.
Bryce Love Jr. RB Stanford
Dalton Schultz Sr. TE Stanford
Joey Alfieri Sr. LB Stanford
Harrison Phillips Sr. DT Stanford
Quenton Meeks Jr. CB Stanford
Justin Reid Jr. S Stanford
Stanford’s underclassmen can be hard to gauge because they list players by academic year, but I think this is accurate. Love has the tools to be the next Stanford back to hit the NFL, he just needs to get a full season as the guy. Schultz is expected to be the next Cardinal NFL tight end, and he could jump after 17 if he becomes that. Alfieri is a big linebacker with NFL size who might be ready if he puts together and All-Pac-12 season and the same could be said for Phillips, but on the defensive line. Meeks could be the Pac-12’s best cornerback who has the potential to be the first corner off the board in 2018 with a good enough season. Reid could think about the leap if he has another All-Pac-12 season.
Josh Rosen Jr. QB UCLA
It’s a rare year recently when UCLA doesn’t have a glut of players who could leave early. Rosen is the only obvious candidate and a very obvious candidate. He has first overall potential if he puts together the season he has the potential to in 2017.
Sam Darnold So. QB USC
Ronald Jones Jr. RB USC
Deontay Burnett Jr. WR USC
Daniel Imatorbhebhe So. TE USC
Porter Gustin Jr. DE USCRasheem Green Jr. DT USC
Cameron Smith Jr. LB USC
Iman Marshall Jr. CB USC
The Trojans are loaded with underclassmen talent. Darnold seems to be the odds on choice for the number one pick in 2018 as long as he declares. Jones should be gone with another 1,000 season. Burnett blew up in the Rose Bowl and could ride that into a season in 2017 that could warrant leaving early. Imatorbhebhe might test the waters because he is a transfer who has been in college for a while. Gustin and Green are borderline first/second round picks depending on how well they play in 2017. Smith might be the draft’s top inside linebacker prospect. Marshall is another guy who could be the first cornerback taken.
Chad Hansen Jr. S Utah
Former quarterback Hansen is huge at 6’3 220 with great instincts. He could jump if he has a big enough season.
Jake Browning Jr. QB Washington
Myles Gaskin Jr. RB Washington
Trey Adams Jr. T Washington
Vita Vea Jr. DT Washington
Greg Gaines Jr. DT Washington
The Huskies may lose a few underclassmen again. Browning is a questionable NFL prospect, but some have him pegged as a decent draft pick, so he could declare after a good enough season. Like Browning, Gaskin is small for an NFL prospect, but he is a running back who will have a lot of mileage and little to prove, so I could easily see him jumping after another 1,000-yard season. The 6’8 320 Adams might jump if he can hold his stock at 1st/2nd round. Vea is in his fifth year since high school and I think is all but gone. Gaines isn’t a great NFL prospect, but a 6’2 320 player who should be first-team All-Pac-12 will have to think about the next level.
Tavares Martin Jr. Jr. WR Washington State
Hercules Mata’afa Jr. DE Washington State
The long and athletic Martin should consider the draft if he cracks the 1,000-yard mark. Mata’afa isn’t the biggest prospect, so he might be a player who comes back for another year even if he has a big junior season.