Top Husky Draft Prospects For 2015

Last weekend, 256 collegiate players heard their names called in the NFL Draft. Two Huskies wound up being drafted while several more have signed with franchises as undrafted free agents. Here is a look at the top Husky NFL prospects for next year and what their future may hold if they are to get a shot at playing in professional football...

CB Marcus Peters - Probably the top Husky from an NFL prospect standpoint. Although he would still have a year of eligibility left, if he has as big of a season as we all expect, he will likely forgo his senior season to start his professional career. At a little over 6'0 tall and weighing right around 200 pounds, Peters definitely fits the mold of what NFL teams are looking for. He's great when the ball is in the air and, while he's adequate in one-on-one, press coverage, he's at his best in a cover-two scheme, what a majority of the NFL teams use to one degree or another, where he can read the quarterback and make plays on the ball. He's solid in run-support, but he's not as physical as former Husky Desmond Trufant was when he was making plays for the Dawgs. He has the potential to be a first-rounder, but he's likely to get a second or third-round grade because of his lack of elite speed.

DT Danny Shelton - The biggest knock on Shelton has always been his motor, but over the past couple of years, that hasn't been as much of a factor and he hasn't seemed to take many plays off while playing in every game since he arrived at Montlake. The other big issues facing Shelton is the fact that most scouts consider him a "one-trick pony" because he lacks the pass-rushing abilities of the elite defensive tackles. Most would consider Shelton a two-down zero or one-technique in the NFL and that would be an ideal place for him. He's got the lower-body strength to hold up well against the run and the quickness to get penetration on running plays, but he'll never collapse the pocket on a regular basis and he only has one sack in his three seasons with the Dawgs. Shelton will likely wind up being a second or third round draft choice and if he finds his way into the right scheme/system, he could easily have a nice 10 to 12-year career before he hangs up his cleats for good.

LB Shaquille Thompson - People have been talking about it on the message boards, but I just haven't seen enough from Thompson to think he will bolt early unless he just blows up this season. It isn't that he hasn't played well, but I just haven't seen him live up to his overall potential. Thompson's instincts are great, but he still makes a lot of mistakes, something I think could easily change with the lack of free-lancing he will do in the new defensive scheme. As a true sophomore in 2014, under the old staff, Thompson was allowed to roam and use his athleticism, but under the new staff, I expect him to know his assignments and that should cut down on the mistakes. Thompson is great in space, but he struggles when he's asked to take on a block, disengage and then make the tackle. He gets "lost in the trash" a lot (caught up in traffic) and while he's got very good closing speed, it's not elite. He wasn't used much as a blitzer, so that makes me wonder if he is just poor at that or if the old staff just liked other guys better in that role. Hopefully the new staff will unleash him and help him live up to his full-potential. Thompson has the ability to be a game-change for the Dawgs, but he needs to show it in order to be considered as a candidate to leave early.

WR Kasen Williams - Yes, Williams has put up huge numbers and ranks as the third-best receiver, from a numbers standpoint, to ever don the purple and gold. That being said, when you are looking at him as a pro prospect, Williams' big problem is his lack of explosiveness. At the high school level, he was so much bigger than everyone else, he just overwhelmed his opponents. However, at the collegiate level, his speed has been pedestrian and he hasn't gotten much in the way of separation. That will only get harder in the NFL where a vast majority of the corners and safeties he will face will have better speed and quickness. In the air is where Kasen has made his "money", however, like the speed factor, in the NFL, corners will be able to leap with him and he won't be as effective. Now, there are plenty of successful wideouts in the NFL who don't possess the athleticism of Williams, but that doesn't mean he's a gimme to find a place on an NFL roster. He's a great downfield blocker and he's good with the ball in his hands, but with some of the holes in his game, he will likely drop on some draft boards once scouts start to pick apart his game. There's also the factor of his recovery from a broken leg and foot injury which could limit him early in the season. I see him as a mid to late rounder, but if he can find a franchise that is looking for him to be a third or fourth wideout early on, then he could easily wind up with a solid start to his NFL career.

DE Hauoli Kikaha - Kikaha got a year of eligibility back so he will only be a junior, but if he has another huge season, I expect him to leave to start his NFL career. At 6'3" and weighing just 250 pounds, Kikaha could find problems if he is drafted by a 4-3 team. In a 3-4, he could wind up being a stand-up pass-rusher and that would allow him to do what he does best -- harass the quarterback. Last season, the fourth-year player from the Islands was just a menace, totaling a team-leading 13 sacks (12 solo, two assists) to go along with 70 tackles (46 solo) and 15.5 tackles-for-loss. He spends a lot of time in the opposition's backfield and he's relentless in his pursuit of the ball-carrier. His biggest drawbacks will be his size and his injury history (two torn ACLs). Kikaha will likely be a late-round prospect, but you never know. If that's the case, it might be better for him to return to UW.

OT Ben Riva - Riva has been one of Washington's most consistent linemen over the past four years. He's a hard worker, he's a sound technician and he's got ideal size to play tackle. Riva isn't super-athletic, but he's got enough athleticism to be successful at the next level. He's probably a free-agent type, but with a standout senior season this fall, you never know.

LB John Timu - Timu is smart and he's physical, but his problems are two-fold -- lack of speed and he struggles in space compared to other top linebacker prospects. In college, Timu is athletic enough to play in space, but in the NFL, I don't see him being able to play outside. He would be an ideal fit inside in a 3-4 scheme where he wouldn't be called upon to cover backs and tight ends on a regular basis.

Other players who could have futures in the NFL: OT Micah Hatchie, LB/DE Josh Shirley, DL Evan Hudson and OC Mike Criste Top Stories