2014 NFL Draft Prospect Preview: Oregon vs. Washington

Potential first-round picks Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins can boost their fluctuating draft stocks with strong performances versus Oregon. (Photo: Jim Z. Rider — USA Today Sports)

Washington (by Joseph Curtis)

Sean Parker, S, Sr. (5’10”, 195lbs)

Parker may be one of the most overlooked safeties in college football. The two-time team captain, who has been on the field since he came on campus as a true freshman, is the heart of the Huskies defense.

He has put together a good resume in his time at Washington. He has finished second on the team in tackles each of the past two seasons, has recored 10 career interceptions and has 31 career starts.

Parker began his career at Washington as a nickel back and routinely covers slot receivers in Washington’s defense, showing he still has the ability to match up in man coverage. He is at his best when plays are in front of him, allowing him to drive off his back foot and break on the ball.

When he works over the top, Parker can be a liability in coverage. He is hesitant breaking on deep routes at times and he doesn’t always take the best angles, allowing wide receivers to get open downfield.

If he can clean up those parts of his game, however, he displays the talent to be a dynamic player in deep coverage. He is a ballhawk who looks for opportunities to go after the ball, and he has the ball skills to make interceptions. He is also a big hitter who delivers clean shots on receivers that can knock the ball out.

He sometimes gets too aggressive going for the big hit, and tackling has been an issue this season as a result. He too often misses tackles going for big shots, or tackles high and gets dragged for extra yardage after contact.

Parker shows good instincts in run support and closes quickly on ball carriers. He would be quite a force against the run if he could routinely tackle.

Parker is beginning to get some more looks from the draft community with Washington’s success this season, and he could see his stock rise.

Keith Price, QB, Sr. (6’1”, 202 lbs)

Price was regarded as an up-and-coming quarterback prospect and a possible Heisman candidate after his superb sophomore season in 2011. A disappointing 2012 season, however, devastated his draft stock.

Five games into his senior season, Price looks to have gotten back on track and looks more like the intriguing quarterback from his sophomore season than the disappointing player from his junior season.

One of the reasons for this reawakening is better decision-making. He has shown a greater trust in his teammates this season rather than trying to make plays by himself.

Still, there are concerns about his throwing ability. The most apparent issue is his inconsistent velocity. He occasionally he flashes some good zip on short-to-intermediate throws, but usually lacks good zip on his passes, which brings some doubt to whether he could truly drive the ball downfield at the next level.

While his accuracy has improved this season, his ball placement on intermediate to deep passes is lacking. This has caused his receivers to have to make adjustments to the ball, and limits their impacts after the catch.

Price is an underrated athlete who can make plays with his feet, but is a pass-first quarterback who uses his athleticism to elude the rush and scramble out of the pocket. He needs to do a better job, however, of keeping his eyes downfield when he is moving around.

Price’s best traits are his intangibles. He is the clear leader of the Huskies offense and has the maturity, poise and intelligence of a more experienced player. He has displayed toughness as well, including playing the second half of the Stanford matchup with a thumb injury on his throwing hand.

While Price has some issues as a passer, he should interview well and a team may fall in love with his intangibles, so he could get a shot as a project quarterback in the NFL.

Bishop Sankey, RB, Jr. (5’10”, 203 lbs)

Overshadowed in the Pac-12 by De’Anthony Thomas and Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey, Bishop Sankey may end up proving to be not only the best back in the Pac-12 but the best draft-eligible back in the country.

Coming off a sophomore season where he gained 1,688 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns, Sankey looks to have picked up where he left off this season. Through five games, he has 828 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns.

He possesses great vision and is a decisive runner who cuts and hits the hole quick. He has the ability to get skinny when needed. He also displays enough patience to wait for blocks to progress and for holes to open up.

Though a bit undersized, he has a very compact build and shows the strength to run inside. He does a great job of keeping his shoulders square as he works upfield, and he shows some power to break through contact.

He also displays the agility to keep defenders off-balance and has a fantastic jump-cut to move around in traffic. He lacks the elite speed to be a homerun hitter, but can use his agility to gain extra yardage.

Sankey is a true three-down workhorse back, which he demonstrated by recording a school-record 40 carries this season against Arizona. He is a good receiver out of the backfield on third downs, and isn’t afraid to get low and block an incoming rusher.

Sankey is only a junior, but he should compete to be the first running back off the board if he declares for the 2014 draft.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jr. (6’6”, 276 lbs)

With athletic, playmaking tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham wreaking havoc in the NFL the past few seasons, more teams are looking to take big, athletic tight ends early in the draft. Few fit that mold better than Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Less than two-and-a-half seasons into his collegiate career, the behemoth Seferian-Jenkins already holds almost every tight end record at Washington. He gained 1,390 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first two seasons, and has 14 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Also a member of the Washington basketball team as a freshman, Seferian-Jenkins is very athletic and knows how to use his size to his advantage on the field. He can create separation with quick cuts and speed, but also use his body to box out defenders and make catches. He is built like an offensive tackle but runs more like a wide receiver.

As a blocker, Seferian-Jenkins is solid and holds his own, but he needs to show more strength and aggressiveness to truly be a great blocker at the next level.

His stock may be falling this season. He was suspended for the season opener due to an offseason DUI arrest, and looked a bit sluggish and a bit out of shape upon returning.

Prior to this season, Seferian-Jenkins was a consistently solid pass catcher who would reach out and make catches away from his body. This year, He has struggled at times with drops, including a crucial drop late in Washington’s loss to Stanford.

Despite the drops against Stanford, he did look more fluid than he had earlier this season and will hope to continue work his way back to how he was playing last season and start maximizing his potential.

Even with a tough start to his junior season, Seferian-Jenkins’ intriguing blend of size and athleticism makes him the prime candidate to be the first tight end taken in the 2014 NFL draft, and a likely first-round selection.

Danny Shelton, DT, Jr. (6’1”, 327 lbs)

If Sean Parker is the heart of the defense, then Danny Shelton is the foundation. Shelton is a massive mortal in the middle of the Huskies defense.

It’s difficult to overlook Shelton when watching the Washington defense. The defensive front is built around him taking up space, and he does just that at a listed weight of 327 pounds. While he is only 6’1”, he appears to have long arms and uses them to keep lineman from getting inside on him.

He has decent athleticism for his size. He is a short-striding runner who moves well in the box but lacks to the speed to get to the edge.

Shelton is quick out of his stance with a powerful punch. He plays with good form initially, but struggles with his balance. He can be neutralized with a cut block or can be knocked to the ground by a good double team.

While his ability to clog running lanes makes him an asset, he provides virtually nothing against the pass. He struggles to get a good push and does not show the ability to penetrate offensive fronts. He recorded his first solo sack of his career this season against Idaho State.

Shelton may not declare after this season, but his ability to clog running lanes will draw him attention as a likely 4-3 nose tackle at the next level.

Kasen Williams, WR, Jr. (6’2”, 212 lbs)

Kasen Williams has been one of the Huskies’ top receiving threats since he walked on campus, but he is turning his raw talent into something more this season. He caught 113 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns during his first two seasons at Washington, but has 21 receptions for 344 yards and one touchdown only five games into his junior seasons.

Williams is a big receiver with a muscular build and special athletic gifts. He isn’t a burner, but he has enough speed to create some room from defenders and make some plays in the open field. He also displays unique leaping ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point. He was an accomplished jumper in high school who won state championships in the triple jump, high jump and long jump.

Williams is also very strong, but he is just beginning to learn how to use his strength and size to be a more physical receiver. He needs to display more physicality after the catch.

He has good, strong hands but has struggled with drops in the past. That looks, however, to be improving thus far into his junior season.

Like Seferian-Jenkins, Williams was had a run-in with the law this offseason when he was cited for being under 21 and operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or marijuana. As part of his citation, he was placed on two years’ probation.

Williams has first-round potential with his remarkable blend of size and athleticism, but needs to continue to progress and stay out of trouble to reach that level.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bishop Sankey, Danny Shelton, De'Anthony Thomas, Game Previews, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Josh Huff, Kasen Williams, Keith Price, Marcus Mariota, Oregon, Pac 12, Prospects to Watch, Sean Parker, Taylor Hart, Washington

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