Devy Spotlight: Previewing the Pac 12 for 2018
Dating back to the first NFL draft in 1936, what we now call the Power-5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC) have produced over 77 percent of all first-round picks. These are the conferences and schools that attract the top high school talent every year and ultimately produce the majority of devy talent for dynasty league owners. This summer, I’ll be taking you on a tour of each of the Power-5 conferences (and maybe even some non-Power-5 schools too) and sharing some of my favorite devy prospects at each position. (Check out the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12, up already.)
Which Pac 12 players could make up the next crop of future NFL fantasy stars? Here are 10 names you need to know for devy purposes:
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert trailed only metrics superstar Baker Mayfield in PFF grading per dropback in clean pockets in 2017. He also led the nation in yards per attempt under pressure. These are a few good foundational building blocks to expand upon as he enters his draft-eligible season. Originally classified as a dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school, Herbert certainly isn’t immobile and will be a quarterback who can pad his fantasy stats with some rushing production, but he shouldn’t be confused with Lamar Jackson either. Early 2019 NFL mock drafts are showing Herbert as the early favorite to be the first quarterback selected.
Khalil Tate, Arizona
Tate is a dual-threat athletic marvel and will be one of the most exciting players to watch in all of college football in 2018. As an 18-year-old sophomore who started just nine games, Tate accounted for over 3,000 total yards and 26 touchdowns in 2017, including over 1,400 yards on the ground. He posted five consecutive conference games with at least 130 passing yards, 130 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Tate is still raw as a passer, but he has plenty of time to become a more complete prospect.
Bryce Love, Stanford
Love was draft-eligible following his stellar 2017 season but opted to return to school for his senior year. He has been a highly efficient back, posting over seven yards per carry in each of his three seasons despite significant increases in usage on an annual basis. Stanford hasn’t given Love much opportunity to display any receiving skills he might possess and I’d like to see that change in 2018.
Myles Gaskin, Washington
Gaskin could be looked at as 2019’s Royce Freeman, a player who was a four-year compiler but doesn’t have any elite or differentiating skills. He can do everything at a requisite level for fantasy purposes. Gaskin will easily have the most tread burned off his tires out of this group when he enters the league with somewhere between 900 and 1,000 college touches to his name by the end of a healthy 2018 season. To his credit, he’s been remarkably consistent from an efficiency perspective, averaging between 5.7 and 6.2 yards per carry in each of his seasons to go with over 200 carries and 1,300 rushing yards each year as well.
Zack Moss, Utah
Moss has done very well to elevate his profile after ranking well outside the top 1,000 prospects in the 2016 recruiting class. He impressed greatly as a sophomore, totaling over 1,400 yards from scrimmage and posting 10 touchdowns as the focal point of the Utes offense. He was involved in the passing game to the tune of 29 receptions, which is always a positive indicator for fantasy potential. He should again pace the team in touches and find himself among the conference statistical leaders in 2018 and could become a mid-late round option in the 2019 NFL Draft.
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
After enduring a long drought of high-profile big receivers with Power-5 pedigree, dynasty players can be excited about the top of the 2019 draft class and Harry is a primary reason. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Harry has the size of a throwback alpha wide receiver. He checked in with over 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 and provided plenty of highlight reel moments. It will be interesting to watch how former NFL head coach Herm Edwards utilizes Harry this season. Most early mock drafters have Harry slotted as a mid-late first round selection in 2019. I think that’s the floor for this talent.
Tyler Vaughns, USC
Vaughns impressed in his first season on the field for USC, including stellar performances when the lights were brightest. He popped in a head-to-head matchup with Harry with a line of six receptions, 126 yards and two touchdowns against the Sun Devils. He also had a big game against Ohio State in the Trojans’ bowl game. With teammate Deontay Burnett moving on to the NFL, Vaughns should be the main focal point of the USC air attack in 2018.
Demetris Robertson, Cal
Robertson splashed in his freshman season only to lose his sophomore year to injury. The injury was apparently a chronic issue that he supposedly played through during his stellar freshman campaign, when he hauled in 50 receptions for over 700 yards. The speedster should be fully recovered and ready to dominate in 2018.
Caleb Wilson, UCLA
Wilson was on an 80-reception, 1,000-yard pace before his early-season injury robbed us of what could have ended up being been the top statistical receiving line of any tight end in the country in 2017. The dynamo scorched Texas A&M for an astonishing 208 yards on 15 receptions in the season opener and followed it up with an 11-catch performance against Stanford just three weeks later. A former high school quarterback, Wilson is still learning the position, but his size and athleticism are already proving to be a tough matchup for opposing defenses. He will have to deal with the loss of Josh Rosen this season, but if he stays healthy, he will be on the short list of tight ends in consideration in the top 50 of next spring’s draft.
Tyler Petite, USC
Petite will return for his senior season in 2018 but will have to cope with the loss of Sam Darnold. His 2017 season could have been more impressive statistically, but he was effectively phased out of the offense over the last month of the season. Petite reportedly runs a sub-4.6 forty at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds. If he can show better production in his senior season, he’s a player that could rise sharply during 2019 NFL Combine week.