After watching tape, talking to untold numbers of prep and JC coaches and considering about a dozen other factors, we’ve come up with our list.
Top 3: 2016 impact
Safety Robert Taylor
Scout lists him as a corner but he’ll be a safety at WSU. There are some strong safety candidates already on the roster he’ll need to beat out for the spot vacated by Taylor Taliulu’s graduation. But if he performs like we think he will in fall camp, CF.C projects he would play free safety for WSU and allow Shalom Luani to move to strong safety. Indeed, if Taylor performs like we think he will, WSU's safety tandem in 2016 will be as good (and hopefully better) than in 2015.
Linebacker Chima Onyeukwu
One of the surprises to us this recruiting season has been that more schools haven’t come after Onyeukwu after WSU secured his verbal in August (USC and Cal have been sniffing around). Onyeukwu can really run. He posted 57 tackles (40 solo) with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss in a season he was named first-team all-conference. Onyeukwu has a chance to be a very good Pac-12 'backer, the question is if it will come in the first year. Jeremiah Allison leaves some big shoes to fill and we're projecting Onyeukwu to line up at the WIL. If Onyeukwu performs like we think he might, WSU should be as good (and as always, hopefully better) than they were in '15 at that spot.
DL Garrett McBroom
The first two picks were easier, this one was tough -- there are some prep prospects who could well make an impact their true freshman season. In the end, though, we chose McBroom because of this: On the d-line, Hercules Mata’afa and Daniel Ekuale are our frontrunners heading into the spring (with E Darryl Paulo and T Destiny Vaeao graduating). But if WSU can’t rotate effectively, with little drop off, the WSU defensive front will tire in the late stages -- both in games and in the season. It is paramount in our view WSU is able to field a strong group behind the starters, and to challenge the starters. McBroom, who has signed as a midyear JUCO transfer, will have significant competition to beat out for significant turns -- with Jeremiah Mitchell, T.J. Fehoko and Hunter Mattox just to name a few. But he’ll also have a head start on the 2016 season, arriving to WSU in January and going through spring ball.