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Versatile stars like UCLA's Myles Jack give the Pac-12 South plenty of NFL intrigue

Whether it's Myles Jack at UCLA or Su'a Cravens at USC, the Pac-12 South not only boasts college football's most dangerous threats, but some of the best pro prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft.

The SEC and ACC may have had the top draft headlines in recent years with the most total players drafted, but in 2015 the Pac-12 had the most first-, second- and third-round selections (they tied the ACC with nine in round one). Players like Leonard Williams, Marcus Peters and Marcus Mariota left big shoes to fill in terms of upcoming prospects, but this year we have resurgence of old with UCLA and USC back on top of the mock drafts.

The Pac-12 South seems to have its own unique style of play within college football, and with that comes some of the draft class’ most intriguing prospects. Just like with the hybrid first rounder Shaq Thompson last season, players like Su’a Cravens of Southern California and Myles Jack of UCLA present versatility we just don’t see very often in any other conference.

With that said, we turn it over to some of SB Nation’s finest Pac-12 writers to help us breakdown which West Coast kids from the South division could turn out to be next year’s stars.


(Analysis by David Potts, Ryan Kelapire, Jason Bartel and Gabe Encinas)

Scooby Wright III, LB, junior: Scooby Wright is the best pro prospect on Arizona, despite being a true junior. Wright does an excellent job of getting into the backfield and making plays. Sometimes that means getting after the quarterback, but it also means tackling running backs before they can even get back to the line of scrimmage. Ideally, he’d be a little faster and a little better in pass coverage, and that’s what he will likely focus on in order to make it at the next level. Still, if he repeats his 2014 campaign in 2015, he’ll be drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft and make an impact as a pass rushing linebacker almost immediately.

Cayleb Jones, WR, junior: At 6'3, 215 pounds, Cayleb Jones certainly has the size to be an NFL receiver. But what makes him special is the athleticism to go along with his size. It allows him to play in a multitude of different ways. His speed makes him a deep threat, his height and leaping ability allow him to go up and get jump balls and his quickness along and strength give him the ability to rack up yards after the catch. He's tough for defenders to take down. Though he has good hands and is relatively polished as a receiver, the thing that he needs to work on most is his route-running. He can struggle to get separation at times, and it could be a real problem for him once he has to face NFL corners.

Freddie Tagaloa, OL, junior: Tagaloa will be protecting Anu Solomon's blindside this season after sitting out last year after transferring from Cal. At 6'8 and 316 pounds, he has the size to warrant a draft pick. The biggest thing to watch will be if he adjusts to the speed of the game quickly after sitting out a year.

William Parks, S, senior: Parks is a high character guy and a natural leader who can really lift the spirits of the team. He excels in many areas as a safety, but he might actually be best out in the flats and in the backfield. Arizona is aggressive and uses him on a lot of blitzes, which can be seen in his tackles for loss in 2015, second to only Wright. He's able to scream off the edge on a blitz and take down the running back with fundamental tackling or hurry the quarterback and get a nice hit on the quarterback before the ball leaves his hand. He'll need to improve his man coverage. He usually leaves a nice cushion for the receiver to work with, which can allow for a lot of underneath routes for decent chunks of yards. Parks' athleticism allows him to follow in pursuit and poke the ball away from time to time, but most of the time he's getting beat in a man coverage situation.


(Analysis by Trevor Sikkema)

D.J. Foster, WR, senior: Foster is listed as a wide receiver, but they play him in the backfield quite a bit – he previously played running back for three years in Tempe. You can tell he’s more comfortable as a running back, but he’s not one to run through contact with ease. Has a nice stutter-step move. However, he lacks next level burst. He’ll get a lot of work this season, so we’ll know what we’re getting as a prospect come December.

Lloyd Carrington, CB, senior: It’s fun to watch cornerbacks be aggressive, and Carrington is one of those breeds. He’s 5'11 with a longer wingspan and likes to use his arms to annoy receivers with subtlety. His awareness and strength in the running game make him a possible safety convert if scouts don’t believe in his straight line speed.


(Analysis by Trevor Sikkema)

Nelson Spruce, WR, senior: Paul Richardson got most of the attention in Colorado before he made the jump to the NFL. Spruce has attempted to take over that big-play role and has found some success. He’s a lanky 6’2, 195 pounds and uses one-cut moves as his bread and butter. They play him as an outside receiver, and his success lies in crisp routes and sure hands rather than the speed or agility Richardson had. I’ve seen projections from the third to the fifth rounds, though I’m on the low end of those.

Analyst’s Note: I really wish I could have cornerback Kenneth Crawley in here, but I could not find any games to watch. I’ll be sure to keep looking for some floating around and get back to you. His length and speed make him a possible sleeper.


(Analysis by Trevor Sikkema)

Su’a Cravens, S, junior: Watching 2014 tape on Cravens is frustrating. I know they play him at the hybrid linebacker spot because of his elite range (he even gave Ameer Abdullah fits), that’s not where he’ll play in the NFL.

A guy with that kind of range and body length paired with the force he can tackle with make him a perfect strong safety candidate. Cravens would be the player assigned to neutralize a team’s best pass catching tight end, or play as a walk up safety near the box and in the slot. He’s a great defensive talent. I just wish I had a better look at him playing a true NFL role rather than USC using him in a spot when he can make a constant impact -- those two things don’t always matchup.

Cody Kessler, QB, senior: I’m no self-proclaimed quarterback guru, but after doing this whole draft thing for a few years I have a good idea of what to look for right off the bat with my quarterback. One of those factors is the difference between timing and touch; when you’re off rhythm, how well can you make a throw? Kessler has developed a lot of trust in head coach Steve Sarkisian’s system, and you can tell by the 39 touchdowns to just five INTs he threw last year.

A quick release and sharp mechanics in his motion help him throw passes with great velocity on short/intermediate passes. However, when I watch his tape, I notice the offense is designed to get the ball out of his hands fast; his timing completions are quick and accurate. When he’s asked to stand in the pocket or wait to throw a deep ball his touch is less than average; he just hasn’t developed that instinct. I think that’ll hurt him as he moves on from USC.


(Analysis by Trevor Sikkema)

Myles Jack, OLB, junior: Myles Jack is one of those players who just looks the part. He’s the only player in Pac-12 history to win both Offensive (RB) and Defensive (OLB) Freshman of the Year. His elite athleticism make him a natural on defense. No matter where he’s lined up, linebacker, defensive end, outside corner (yes, I know), you can tell he has a swagger about him.

He can backpedal like a free safety and pursue like a middle linebacker. He hits with intensity, but knows when to wrap up and often does it well. When you watch his tape you can’t help but laugh at how easy this man makes football look. He’s a top 10 player.

Kenny Clark, DT, junior: Scouts seem to love Clark for his run-stopping ability (or so I read). But, just because a player is big and gets double teamed a lot, doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a great run defender. I do seem him occasionally make a good push when he’s left one-on-one, but he truly is more of an anchor-type defensive tackle. He won’t impress you with lateral movement, but he doesn’t hang his hat on getting east to west. I’ve seen some first-round projections on Clark, but I’m not there yet.

Fabian Moreau, CB, senior: If you’re playing man coverage, a fluid back pedal is a must and Moreau has it. He’s a face-up corner who likes to keep receivers in front of him. He’s not one to draw a ton of penalties because of the way he plays off receivers, but that doesn’t make him any less aggressive once the ball is in the air. It’s a deep defensive back class, but I think Moreau is a Day 2 hopeful.


(Analysis by Trevor Sikkema)

Devontae Booker, RB, senior: My favorite part of Booker’s game is that he’s always falling forward when he’s getting tackled. He keeps a strong center of gravity and runs hard up the field as soon as he touches the ball. He reminds me a bit of Florida State’s Karlos Williams in the sense that he’s always getting those extra yards by driving his body forward. He has the running style of Williams, Booker doesn’t have that top-end speed.

He’s a consistent carrier and a guy who Utah relies on to get them up the field each drive, but I wouldn’t say Booker is dynamic (he doesn’t have to be). He’s a fluid runner who takes contact well. There’s a place for him somewhere.

Jared Norris, ILB, junior: Norris was a tackling machine last year racking up the fourth most tackles in the Pac-12 with 116. He’ll most likely be a 3-4 inside linebacker because of limited range in pursuit.

He shows nice a break off blocks for a player of his position and brings good power when squaring up a ball carrier. His awareness in coverage is better than his athleticism allows him to move, which is both good to hear and limiting in what he can do. He’s a reliable player, and those kind of guys always have a shot to make their mark.