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Thursday, January 24, 2013
Recapping Pac-12's early draft departures

By Ted Miller

Ten Pac-12 players opted to enter the NFL draft a year early. Several others opted to come back.

Here are the guys who left: Keenan Allen, WR, California; Robert Woods, WR, USC; Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State; Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford; Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford; David Bakhtiari, OL, Colorado; Joe Kruger, DE, Utah; Nickell Robey, CB, USC; Terrence Brown, CB, Stanford; and Steve Williams, CB, California

And here are the notable guys who stayed: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State; Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA; Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford; Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford; Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford; and Deandre Coleman, DE, California

So how do things stand?

Biggest winners: Sutton was the Pac-12's Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American, yet he opted to return for his senior year, perhaps the most surprising call by a conference prospect. Barr has perhaps more NFL upside than any other player in the conference, but he opted to return to UCLA. The Sun Devils and Bruins' defenses just got a whole lot better in 2013. And these two figure to battle for 2013 Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Biggest loser: Stanford was a winner  and a loser. The good news was Skov, Murphy and Gardner opting to return to what should be an outstanding defense. Still, no other team lost three quality starters: Ertz, Toilolo and Brown. Ertz and Toilolo were cornerstones of the Cardinal's tight end-heavy attack, combing for 95 catches and 10 touchdowns last season. Ertz is a likely early draft pick, so his departure is understandable. Toilolo's is a bit more surprising, seeing that he could put up huge numbers as a feature guy in 2013 for a high-profile team, which would boost his prospects. Brown also was a bit of a surprise, as he was a solid but unremarkable player.

Headscratchers: Brown, California cornerback Steve Williams and Utah defensive end Joe Kruger all entered the draft with uncertain prospects. Each was only honorable mention All-Conference this season. Each might have been able to boost his stock by coming back in 2013, but a verdict on this won't be delivered until draft day.

The replacements: Here are some ideas on who steps in for the departed guys: