Washington Huskies Draft Prospects
The Huskies are primed for a big season this year, led by some superstar upperclassmen while the combination of seniors Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin has proved to be one of the best in school history. The mountains, oh sorry, the tackles protecting them have been staples at UW over the last four years as well. Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary are primed to be dominant once again this season.
The defense is going to miss Vita Vea, now Greg Gaines will be the massive anchor along the D-line. Taylor Rapp is arguably the best safety in America and he leads the Husky secondary which is possibly the nation’s best. These guys are all primed for great college seasons, but how do they project at the next level?
LT Trey Adams
Weight: 327 pounds
NFL fits: Anywhere
2018 Watch Lists: Outland Trophy, Athlon Preseason All-America (2ndteam), Sporting News Preseason All-America (1stteam), Athlon Sports Preseason All-Pac 12 (1stteam)
Adams started 25 games over his first two years at Washington, and the first seven games of the 2017 season until a torn ACL against Arizona State ended his season. Adams said that he never even gave the NFL a thought and was set on returning to Washington for his senior season.
A kid from the mountains of Washington, he looks like one on the football field at 6’8, 327. Adams is the second tackle on a lot of scout’s big boards, behind Alabama’s Jonah Williams. Adams has Top 10 potential and in a draft where the first round is dominated by trench players, Adams should hear his name called early in the 2019 NFL Draft.
QB Jake Browning
Weight: 210 pounds
NFL Fits: New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals
2018 Watch Lists: Davey O’Brien Watch List, Maxwell Watch List, Walter Camp Player of the Year Watch List, Heisman Trophy Watch List, Athlon Preseason All-Pac 12 (2nd team)
Browning didn’t necessarily burst on the scene as a freshman, even though he became the first ever true freshman to start a season opener in school history. His coming out party came during his sophomore year when Browning secured the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year award. He also tied a Pac-12 record, throwing for 43 touchdowns in 2016.
Not surprisingly, he saw a great deal of regression in 2017 after superstar receiver John Ross left and was the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft. He threw for 19 touchdowns in 2017 and is primed to bounce back in 2018. Head Coach Chris Petersen likes to call Browning a coach on the field, and Browning can make every throw.
He doesn’t necessarily have the strongest arm, but he’s accurate, with a 64.4% career completion percentage. He’ll make a team very happy to spend a fifth or sixth round pick on him. Will he start in the NFL? Only time will tell, but Browning’s intelligence and accuracy should give him a good shot.
RB Myles Gaskin
Weight: 203 pounds
NFL Fits: Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers
Award Watch Lists: Heisman Watch List, Walter Camp Player of the Year Watch List, Sporting News Preseason All-America (2nd team), Athlon Preseason All-America (1st team), Athlon Preseason All-Pac 12 (1st team)
Notice what all of the teams that Gaskin fits on have in common? A young running back who could use a good backup. That’s exactly what Gaskin is. A super productive back, rushing for 1,300 yards in each of his first three years, he has become arguably the best running back in Washington history.
Sadly for Husky fans, he doesn’t have the size to become a true bell-cow back at the next level. But Gaskin has the speed and strength to still find his own role in the NFL. If Gaskin can run for at least 1,300 yards again this season, he’ll smash the school record, currently held by Napoleon Kaufman.
Not only will that raise him to legendary status at UW, he’ll also raise his NFL draft stock. At best, expect him to be a second or third round pick with a great chance to carve out a spot as a number two back.
RT Kaleb McGary
Weight: 318 pounds
NFL Fits: Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks
Award Watch Lists: Athlon Sports Preseason All Pac-12 (1st team), Outland Trophy Watch List
Kaleb McGary is Mr. Consistent. He’s played in every game of his college career so far and started every game in each of the last two seasons. Barring injury, that’ll continue in 2018. He’s been an incredibly sturdy right tackle for the Huskies.
The door is pretty open and shut with McGary, he comes in every week and does his job. He protects Jake Browning’s right side and definitely has the size and strength to play either tackle spot at the NFL level. He could be the left tackle at Washington, he just happens to be slotted next to arguably the best left tackle in the country.
McGary has the potential to be a high impact mid-round pick, he’s probably going to get lost in the shuffle of some of the top end tackles. With Greg Little, Jonah Williams and Michael Deiter in the mix, this is bound to be one of the top tackle classes in a long time. McGary just adds solid depth to the class.
DT Greg Gaines
Weight: 322 pounds
NFL Fits: Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills
Award Watch Lists: Outland Trophy Watch List, Athlon Preseason All Pac 12 (1st team), Bednarik Award Watch List, Bronco Nagurski Award Watch List
Gaines is a solid run defender, but he isn’t incredibly apt at getting after the passer. He recorded a career-high 3.5 sacks during his sophomore season, but the UW pieces around Gaines definitely helped. In 2018 though, there’s no more Vita Vea or Elijah Qualls next to him.
Gaines would be a typical early down run defender in the NFL, and with his size, he could find himself in a Brandon Williams type role. He would be a third or fourth round steal for anyone with a weak run defense. The Chargers or Colts especially need a Gaines type player. He might not ever be a star defensive tackle in the NFL, but he can definitely be a 10-year type player.
S Taylor Rapp
Weight: 212 pounds
NFL Fits: Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans
Award Watch Lists: Bednarik Award Watch List, Bronco Nagurski Award Watch List, Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, Athlon Preseason All America (1st team), Athlon Preseason All Pac 12 (1st team)
Taylor Rapp is really, really good. He came in as a true freshman and moved Budda Baker (maybe you’ve heard of him) into the nickel back role. Rapp led the 2016 Washington Huskies in interceptions as a freshman. That defense consisted of Baker, Kevin King, and Sidney Jones, who were all second-round picks in the NFL Draft. Pac-12 quarterbacks didn’t go anywhere near Rapp in 2017, and he was only able to get one pick.
This guy loves to hit, flies to the ball, and has great hands. Remind you of another great safety in Seattle? Someone named Earl Thomas? Rapp has the potential to be the first safety picked in next year’s draft, as he has all of the tools to make a scout’s jaw drop. He can sit back and play center field or come down in the box and hit. He could be the NFL’s next great safety.