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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Pac-12 among top purveyors of NFL talent

Rebecca Noble
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez scowls inside Arizona Stadium on Sept. 19.

Every year, the NFL draft rolls around and a new buzz and excitement is filled for those teams who struggled the previous season. Players will begin their new lives in the pros as they aim to help struggling or successful franchises.

The SEC has led all conferences with 246 draft picks in the last five years, including 54 from last year alone. The ACC has 185 over the past five seasons and the Pac-12 Conference is third with 160.

The Pac-12 had 39 draft picks last year, nine of which came in the first round to tie the ACC for the most on day one. Washington saw three first-round picks, while Oregon and USC each had two.

The Arizona Wildcats, meanwhile, failed to get a single player drafted.

Players like Scooby Wright III, Cayleb Jones and Will Parks are all hoping to change that trend this year.

“I think Scooby is going to be a great pro,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “Wherever they project him and whatever club takes Scooby, he’s going to wind up being, I think, an 8-10 year veteran.”

While Arizona lacks in the draft department, the Pac-12 has seen some talented players make their way in the NFL.

Marcus Mariota from Oregon was the second overall pick last year and he turned in a successful rookie campaign with the Tennessee Titans. Leonard Williams from USC was widely regarded as the most talented player in the draft and was taken sixth overall by the New York Jets. Shaq Thompson, the 25th overall pick from Washington, saw substantial time as a linebacker with the Super Bowl-bound Carolina Panthers.

The Pac-12 has the potential to make another big splash in the draft this year.

Jared Goff, from California, is the consensus No. 1 pick to the Los Angeles Rams among seven analysts from UCLA linebacker Myles Jack and Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner are seen as top-10 picks as well.

Had Wright not suffered injuries throughout his junior year, the All-American linebacker might have been a mid-first round pick. If he stays healthy, Wright, a now mid-round prospect, could end up being one of the steals of the draft.

Jones and Parks are both projected in the later rounds or as undrafted free agents.

So while Arizona’s draft talent has been scarce, the Pac-12, as a unit, has produced some incredible talent. Keep an eye on those later rounds, though, as those Wildcats among others might surprise you if given the chance.

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