NFL draft expert Todd McShay thinks highly of the Pac-12 Conference in general and the Washington Huskies in particular this year, and also writes that the Seahawks would be wise to use their first-round pick on a potential replacement for RB Marshawn Lynch.
McShay’s latest mock draft, released this week, projects Huskies NT Danny Shelton and fired CB Marcus Peters among five Pac-12 products going in the first round April 30. The Seahawks pick 31st in the first round, and McShay advises Seattle to take Georgia RB Todd Gurley.
“It’s been rumored recently that the Seahawks could sign Marshawn Lynch to a long-term deal this offseason (he’s entering the final year of his contract), but I’ll believe that when I see it,” McShay wrote on ESPN.com.
“If Lynch isn’t with Seattle beyond the 2015 season, Gurley is a perfect replacement. He was a top-15 talent in this class prior to tearing his ACL this season, a powerful downhill runner who also has excellent speed — the best NFL comparison I can come up with for Gurley is Lynch.
“The Seahawks would have to be comfortable with his health situation, but he could be an ideal successor to Lynch. They could also look to address the offensive or defensive line (in the first round).”
McShay predicts Shelton will be selected seventh overall by Chicago.
“Shelton would provide a versatile, big body along the interior,” McShay wrote, “as he commands double-teams against the run and can push the pocket as a pass-rusher. (Oregon defensive end) Arik Armstead is another option here.”
Peters, who was kicked off the Huskies squad for disciplinary reasons, is pegged by McShay to go 22nd overall to Pittsburgh.
“Based purely off of game tape, Peters is the best all-around cornerback in this class,” McShay wrote. “He has a good combination of instincts, cover skills, toughness and ball skills (11 interceptions the past three seasons). But Pittsburgh will have to feel comfortable with his character before drafting him.”
McShay’s projected No. 1 pick, by Tampa Bay, is Florida State QB Jameis Winston. USC DE Leonard Williams would go second to Tennessee. Regarding other Pac-12 rivals of Williams, McShay sees Oregon QB Marcus Mariota going sixth to the New York Jets, Armstead eighth to Atlanta and Stanford OT Andrus Peat heading to Houston at No. 16.
Huskies linebackers Hau’oli Kikaha and Shaq Thompson are projected as second-round picks on ESPN’s extended list of draft prospects, based on NFL potential. Kikaha is ranked 53rd, Thompson 57th, Shelton eighth and Peters 18th. Washington State’s top prospects are WR Vince Mayle (No. 130) and DT Xavier Cooper (No. 272).