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Top 2016 Pac-12 NFL draft prospects

5/6/2015

The NFL received a nice infusion of Pac-12 talent last week, which means it's time to look into the crystal ball to find out who will be following them next year.

Using significant input from several Pac-12 coaches, here are 10 names to serve as a starting point for a discussion regarding next year's draft prospects. (*Denotes two years of eligibility remaining going into 2015 season.)

RB Devontae Booker, Utah: If Booker didn't take the junior college route, his 1,512-yard junior season for the Utes might have been his last one. However, with just one year of Division I experience, Booker chose to return to Utah and could make a push for a 2,000-yard season. If Booker isn't one of the first five running backs selected next year, it will be a surprise.

DE/OLB DeForest Buckner, Oregon: If teammate Arik Armstead was good enough to go No. 17 overall, what does that say about Buckner, who was by far the more productive lineman for the Ducks? Statistical production, of course, doesn't tell the whole story, but combined with his physical stature (6-foot-7, 290 pounds) Buckner is an impressive prospect.

*S/LB Su'a Cravens, USC: Whether he ends up at linebacker or safety at the next level is to be determined, but, either way, it is clear Cravens is about as obvious a talent as there is in the conference, and a likely first-rounder. On a defense that featured Leonard Williams, considered by many the top defensive player in the 2015 draft, Cravens was the most important player.

*QB Jared Goff, Cal: Cal's lack of success has kept Goff off the national radar, but there's no denying his top-of-the-first-round potential. Whether it works out that way is guesswork -- he still needs to add weight to his 6-4, 210-pound frame -- but he checks nearly every box NFL scouts covet and has the production to warrant consideration.

*LB Myles Jack, UCLA: When Shaq Thompson was picked in the first round by Carolina, it was a welcome development for Jack, who views Thompson as a comparable prospect to himself. The plan is for Jack to play inside linebacker this season, but he likely projects at outside linebacker and, if he chooses to leave, will be one of the draft's best defensive players.

QB Cody Kessler, USC: After a productive junior season, Kessler could have tried his luck with the NFL, but opted to return for a season in which there will be high expectations -- both for the team and Kessler individually. He doesn't have ideal height for an NFL quarterback (he's listed at 6-1), but will be prepared for the mechanics of running an NFL offense.

OT Kyle Murphy, Stanford: Murphy was probably talented enough to start at left tackle for Stanford as a freshman, but because he arrived as part of the same recruiting class as Andrus Peat, he's had to wait his turn. If the trajectory of his first three seasons continues, Murphy should be among the top tackle prospects in the draft.

OL Max Tuerk, USC: One NFL talent evaluator said Tuerk would have been the second-best center prospect (behind Florida State's Cameron Erving) if he chose to leave after last season. He returns to anchor what is arguably the best offensive line in college football.

*DT Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA: The main thing for Vanderdoes is health. When healthy, he's shown he can be a force up front, but there's a sense his checkered injury history has somewhat slowed his development. He'll be an early draft pick eventually -- whether that's next year or the following year is anyone's guess.

*LB Scooby Wright III, Arizona: If game tape is a football player's ré

sumé, then Wright is in good shape. Plus, as the Bednarik Award winner, he has history on his side. Dating back to Charles Woodson in the 1998 draft, every winner of the award has been drafted no later than the third round, including eight of 16 in the first round.