George Wrighster Picks NFL’s AFC Conference Division Winners

Patrick Mahomes

The AFC is home to the best quarterback play, and the strongest conference in the NFL. There are my picks to win each division in 2022 (Playoff teams in bold)



  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders

The winner of the Super Bowl is more than likely going to come out of this division, and I’m just going to come out and with my boldest prediction right out of the gate.

When the dust settles on the 2022 regular season, the Los Angeles Chargers are going to be in first place. 

Justin Herbert is ready to make a leap to NFL MVP, and the Chargers have the most dangerous wide receiver room in the NFL. Brandon Staley won 9 games last year despite having the fourth-worst scoring defense, and you know that’s been eating at him after using his credentials as the top defensive coordinator in 2020 with the LA Rams to land this gig. There’s a lot of pressure on Khalil Mack to help get this defensive line over the hump, because Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery weren’t doing enough to get it done without him. 

Patrick Mahomes is still that dude, and they might win the Super Bowl without winning the division, but Tyreek Hill was a vital part of their offensive success. Do you really think 8.6 yards per reception JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to replace that production? We’ll just have to see.

I think the Broncos get in with the addition of Mr. Unlimited, Russell Wilson. That leaves the Raiders on the outside looking in- and don’t try and tell me the Silver and Black are going to build on last year’s surprising rally behind interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia. He’s up in the freezing cold frozen tundra now, and the Raiders chances of making the 2022 playoffs went with him.

I’m not saying the Raiders can’t make some noise this year, but they have the bad fortune of taking a minimum of four losses in conference play. 

So to recap, your MVP and Super Bowl champion are likely both coming out of the AFC West.

AFC South


  • Tennessee Titans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

I believe Ryan Tannehill is closer to the 2021 version than the 33 Touchdown, 7 interception 2020 version that had Dolphins fans ready to walk into the ocean.

But I also believe it doesn’t matter. The strength of the Titans is their running game behind Derrick Henry and a finally-healthy offensive line. If they do what they are supposed to in the running game, and the defense continues the massive leap forward it made in 2021, they’re going to win the division.

The Colts are continuing their end of career Las Vegas residency QB carousel, this time with Matt Ryan. And if you consider that Matt Ryan has had one good season every three years for the past 14 seasons, he’s probably due for a decent year. But just like the Titans, this is a team built on running and defense, and the superstar pair of Johnathan Taylor and Darius Leonard are probably enough to put Indy on the playoff bubble.

The Houston Texans and my old team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are both much improved, and I expect them to be in a lot of games until the bitter end, but those endings will be bitter. I expect 5-6 win seasons for both squads. 

For any of these teams to make the leap to Super Bowl contender, they’re going to need to have a sure-fire franchise QB, but I can’t say with a straight face that any of them have one at the moment.

AFC North


  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Cleveland Browns

If you don’t think Lamar Jackson is worth $250 million guaranteed, you will by the end of the season. This division is about to be all Baltimore, all the time. 

John Harbaugh is coming off only his second losing season as the Ravens head coach in the last 14 years, and the worst team defense we’ve seen from Baltimore since 2002. Not only are we going to see progression to the mean, if this team stays healthy, we might see dominance. In my opinion, the Super Bowl champ is coming out of the AFC West, but if it’s anyone else, this is the team to watch. 

I’m not a Cincinnati Bengals hater, but let’s be honest. They got hot at the right time last year, but in the Super Bowl, the better team won. I do have them making the playoffs in 2022, and while that should be enough for Bengals fans that went 31 years between playoff victories, a taste of success can make you greedy. Be patient with Joe Burrow and Zac Taylor, and you’ll get back eventually.

I have the Pittsburgh Steelers finishing third in the division and contending for a playoff spot. Yes, even with Mitch Trubisky taking snaps. I could come out of retirement to play QB for the Steelers and Mike Tomlin is still going to find a way for my old ass to drag them to 9 wins. The problem with this is that it keeps you out of range to take a shot on a top QB in the draft, so this might be something they have to reconcile in free agency this offseason. I hear their rival has a QB with a suspect contract situation…

Last, and definitely least, the Cleveland Browns decided to waste a perfectly good roster on a suspended QB. If Deshaun Watson wasn’t being held out for you-know-what, this is a Super Bowl contending roster. And maybe that’s why they’re willing to take all the heat that comes with this decision, and punt their success until 2023. 

And if the Ravens don’t handle things with their QB’s contract situation, these standings could flip next year.



  • Buffalo Bills
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Jets

The division belongs to Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. I’ve always been a Josh Allen fan, and you definitely don’t need to look up any of my takes about him prior to the 2020 season because I’m telling the truth. You believe me, right? Anyway, if the Bills have a non-QB scramble oriented running game, it’s a wrap. 

Miami is not going to be as good as some prognosticators think, but I do have them finishing second,and likely making the playoffs. When your own owner is trying to move you off the team for Tom Brady or Deshaun Watson, you aren’t that guy. I’m talking to you, Tua. But enjoy additions like Tyreek Hill and Chase Edmonds, they’re definitely the type of guys that can mask arm strength issues with playmaking ability.

Recycling failed head coaches onto the offensive staff might work for Nick Saban, but do we really think Bill Belichick is going to get away with using Mat Patricia and Joe Judge to replace the entire offensive staff that Josh McDaniels took to Las Vegas? I think the Patriots will be good enough to finish third in the AFC East. Without Tom Brady, years of bad skill position drafting by Belichick is the ultimate reason the Patriots have fallen off, and should not be considered legit contenders.

And last, as usual, the New York Jets. Do I really need to explain why? Or can I just say that Joe Flacco is 2-12 in his last 14 starts, and Zach Wilson is only slightly better, going 3-10 as a rookie.

Just like when Tom Brady ruled the division, the only team with a legitimate QB remains king of the mountain.

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

Unafraid Show’s Pac-12 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Part Two

Unafraid Show's Pac-12 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Part Two

The 2020 NFL Draft is drawing near as Pac-12 Prospects have made their cases to teams as to why they should draft them. The Pac-12 has many players who could help teams out this upcoming season.

This article is part of Unafraid Show’s two-part NFL Draft preview.

Quarterbacks Lead the Way for Pac-12 in 2020 NFL Draft

Justin Herbert – QB Oregon

Justin Herbert will be the first Pac-12 player off the board on Thursday. However, there has been more debate of who will go first between Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa. Some pundits even view Herbert as better than Joe Burrow, the presumptive first overall pick on Thursday. Herbert would be an interesting fit with certain teams such as the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers. Both teams have receivers that could ease the pressure on Herbert. It will be interesting to see if Herbert is a day one starter or if he has to sit and learn. After being a starter for the majority of his college career, he has the potential to have a successful rookie season.

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Jacob Eason – QB Washington

Jacob Eason is primed to be a Day Two pick at the 2020 NFL Draft. Eason was the National Gatorade Player of the Year during his senior year of high school in 2015-16. However, Eason had an uneasy college career that started at Georgia. Still, Eason is a pocket passer that teams could see as an eventual starter. The best situation for Eason would be a place where there is an established veteran starter that he can learn from. Possible teams that fit that bill include the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.  

Anthony Gordon – QB Washington State

Anthony Gordon was named Second Team All Pac-12 in 2019. Gordon was able to thrive in Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, making him an intriguing fit as a backup in some of the hybrid NFL systems. Gordon could be a legitimate backup with teams such as the Arizona Cardinals who employ Air Raid concepts. However, Gordon looks to be a Day Three draft pick in part because he played in the Air Raid system in college. The last quarterbacks to play in Mike Leach’s system, Luke Falk and Gardner Minshew, have both started NFL games. It will be interesting to see if Gordon could have a similar career trajectory.

Steven Montez – QB Colorado

Steven Montez Colorado

Like Gordon, Steven Montez figures to be a late-round draft pick. Montez has great arm strength, but has flaws in his game. When he would extend plays during his time at Colorado, Montez would sometimes be able to find receivers open downfield. Those types of plays simply do not happen often in the NFL, but Montez’ ability to extend plays could help him as long as he takes care of the football.  

Pac-12 Offensive Talent Present In 2020 NFL Draft

Zack Moss – RB Utah

Zack Moss figures to be one of the first running backs off the draft board. However, he may not hear his name called until Friday night. He ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which is considered underwhelming for a running back. On the flip side, Moss was First-Team All Pac-12 in 2019, rushing for 1,416 yards and 15 touchdowns. The cousin of Santana and Sinorice Moss, two former NFL wide receivers, Moss could be a good power back option for some teams. Potential fits for Moss include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He proved himself as an effective pass-catcher at Utah with 28 receptions. Tom Brady loves throwing to his running backs, and Zack Moss would be an interesting piece in Bruce Arians’ and Byron Leftwich’s offense.  

Michael Pittman Jr. – WR USC

Michael Pittman Jr. will probably be a Day Two draft pick. With a deep wide receiver class in the 2020 draft, Pittman will be a steal for whoever gets him. A Biletnikoff Award finalist, Pittman posted 1,275 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019 for the Trojans. With a bigger build, Pittman could complement a team who needs a possession receiver. Pittman ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He has the speed to do well at the NFL level.

Brandon Aiyuk – WR Arizona State

Brandon Aiyuk is in the same boat as Laviska Shenault as far as his draft stock. NFL Network reported that Aiyuk had core muscle surgery on April 7. Aiyuk is regarded by many as a first-round talent. He had big-play ability at Arizona State. The team that ends up drafting Brandon Aiyuk will be getting a playmaker that can excel in both the receiving and return game on special teams. A prime fit for Brandon Aiyuk would be the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is still looking for a solid second receiver along with Davante Adams, and Aiyuk fits the bill.

Austin Jackson and Calvin Throckmorton Could Help Teams on Offensive Line

Austin Jackson – OT USC

Austin Jackson has the potential to be a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. His athleticism will attract teams on draft night. Teams may view Jackson as a project though because his fundamentals need work. A team who may look to draft Jackson either late in the first round or early in the second round could be the Denver Broncos. Jackson figures to compete for a starting job wherever he goes.

Calvin Throckmorton – OG Oregon

Calvin Throckmorton led a talented group of offensive lineman at Oregon in 2019. However, Throckmorton had an uneasy performance at the 2020 Senior Bowl. Still, he was a First-Team All Pac-12 Selection in 2019, and can play any position along the offensive line. Throckmorton finished his career at Oregon with a 3.8 GPA and Second-Team Academic All American honors. He will probably be a Day Two pick, but a team who wants an intelligent, versatile offensive lineman should know that Throckmorton fits that description.

Evan Weaver, Jaylon Johnson Lead Defensive Players from Pac-12 in 2020 NFL Draft

Evan Weaver – LB California

Evan Weaver garnered Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2019. However, he is projected to be a late-round draft pick because he is simply undersized. Despite that, Weaver led the country with 182 tackles during the 2019 season. He ran a 4.76 40-yard dash, and has the intangibles to be a contributing member for an NFL team. Weaver may not be the prototypical NFL athlete, but he will have a chance to prove himself if a team is willing to give him a chance.

Jaylon Johnson – CB Utah

Jaylon Johnson could be a first-round draft pick on Thursday. Johnson garnered First-Team All Pac-12 Honors in both 2018 and 2019. Johnson also received All-Academic honors. Teams that value a good mix of talent with hard work will see Johnson as someone they want on their football team. Standing at exactly six feet, some people may question Johnson’s size at the cornerback position. Still, he plays the position with physicality and is not afraid to challenge opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage. Don’t be surprised if Johnson is a late first-round pick on Thursday.

After 2020 NFL Draft, Pac-12 Players Will Start Next Chapter

There is plenty in store once the 2020 NFL Draft gets rolling on Thursday night. We will be able to see where all of the Pac-12 standouts from the 2019 season will end up starting the next phase of their football career.

Pac-12 Players Perform Well At The 2020 Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl Justin Herbert Pac-12

The 2020 Senior Bowl presented an opportunity for many Pac-12 players to help their draft stock. In what would be a 34-17 victory for the North team over the South team in Mobile, Alabama, some players were able to take advantage of their opportunity while others struggled.

Pac-12 players that played in the Senior Bowl:

Arizona State: RB Eno Benjamin, WR Brandon Aiyuk

California: S Ashtyn Davis, LB Evan Weaver

Colorado: QB Steven Montez, LB Davion Taylor

Oregon: QB Justin Herbert, OL Calvin Throckmorton

UCLA: RB Joshua Kelley

USC: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

Utah: DE Bradlee Anae, LB Francis Bernard, DB Terrell Burgess, DT Leki Fotu

Washington: C Nick Harris

Washington State: QB Anthony Gordon

Justin Herbert Leads Way for Pac-12

Justin Herbert started for the South team coached by Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. Herbert went 9-of-12 for 83 yards and threw a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. He also added 22 yards on the ground. Herbert won MVP honors for his performance. Showing poise throughout the first quarter, Herbert was able to put on a performance that should help his case for being a top pick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.

Many expect the Bengals to select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick of the NFL Draft. However, Herbert and Burrow have similar games, and both can be threats running the football. If Herbert can add to his Senior Bowl performance with a great NFL Combine and Pro Day, he could be picked within the top five-seven picks. The Dolphins, Chargers, and Panthers (picks five, six, and seven) are all expected to strongly consider drafting a quarterback. Herbert separated himself from Jordan Love, another projected first-round pick and starter for the North team, in the Senior Bowl.

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Joshua Kelley and Anthony Gordon Also Impress on Offense in Senior Bowl

UCLA running back Joshua Kelley and Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon were the standout Pac-12 offensive players for the North team. Kelley had 15 carries for 105 yards, and Anthony Gordon had two touchdown passes in the third quarter. When Gordon went in, the game was tied at 10, but after the third quarter, the North was leading 31-10. Gordon could build off his senior bowl performance to possibly be a Day 2 pick at the NFL Draft.

Joshua Kelley was able to show that he can be physical inside, but can be explosive in space. He also could make a case for being a Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick if he builds off his performance in the Senior Bowl.

Bradlee Anae Steals the Show on Defense in Senior Bowl

Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae had a huge day at the Senior Bowl for the North team. He recorded three sacks on the day, and wreaked havoc against the South offensive line. Anae was the best defensive player on the field in Mobile and made his case to be a Day 2 pick at the draft.

Steven Montez, Calvin Throckmorton Have Uneven Performances in Senior Bowl

Colorado quarterback Steven Montez entered the game to start the second half and had a very uneven performance. Montez finished 3-of-8 for 22 yards and an interception. He took a sack on a 3rd-and-1 as he scrambled back and made a five-yard loss into a 15-yard loss on the sack.

However, Montez and fellow South quarterback Jalen Hurts did not get the protection from their offensive line to be fairly evaluated based on their performances. Calvin Throckmorton, an offensive lineman for Oregon, played for a big portion of the game and had trouble blocking Bradlee Anae on the few occasions they were matched up against each other. None of the tackles for the South fared well against Anae, but Throckmorton’s stock did not go up based on his performance.

Pac-12 Had Some of the Best Performances at 2020 Senior Bowl

The Pac-12 had a positive 2020 Senior Bowl. Justin Herbert, arguably the premier player in the conference this past season, was able to win MVP. Bradlee Anae made a great impression nationally. There is talent in the Pac-12, and future recruits can see that players that play on the west coast in the Pac-12 can be successful.

Justin Herbert’s Rose Bowl Win and 3 Rushing TD’s Saved His NFL Draft Stock

Justin Herbert NFL Draft

Justin Herbert’s First Drive was Phenomenal

12 plays, 75 yards and a rushing touchdown highlighted by a Justin Herbert stiff-arm.

It was a near-perfect opening drive for Herbert and the Oregon Ducks. Herbert’s first possession stats included:

  • 4-of-5 completions for 49 yards
  • 2 rushes for 7 yards and a touchdown

With ease, Justin Herbert and company carved through the Wisconsin Badgers. Although Oregon fans have become accustomed to high-scoring outings by their Ducks, this was against Wisconsin’s ninth-ranked defense in the nation, per Football Outsiders DFEI. To start like that was incredible. If Herbert kept his play at that high of a level, his 2020 NFL Draft stock would have risen substantially.

However, that didn’t happen.

Stalled Offense and Poor Decision Making

On his very next drive, Justin Herbert erased his flawless first possession. Tied at 7-7, following a Wisconsin kick-return touchdown, Herbert threw a horrible throw into traffic. Granted, most of the time passes near lineman are batted down. Few are intercepted like this. But, this throw was different. It was oddly low, into a cluster of players and Wisconsin’s Jack Sanborn was sitting there, waiting with eyes on Herbert. Herbert didn’t even try a different read.

Either he didn’t see the Sanborn or the Wisconsin cluster, threw the ball far lower than he wanted to or thought he could force a football through too tight a window. Regardless of why the interception happened, it grades very poorly for Herbert.

After opening the game with a 12 play, 75 yard touchdown drive, Oregon’s offense faltered for five consecutive drives. Justin Herbert couldn’t get anything going. Interception, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs.

It wasn’t until the final four minutes of the first half when Herbert was able to lead any significant drive. But, that wasn’t solely because of him. Instead, it was mostly due to the Oregon Ducks’ defensive plays.

Relying on Defensive Turnovers

At the end of the game, Oregon forced four turnovers. Three fumbles and one interception. Considering Brady Breeze took one fumble to the house, Herbert doesn’t get credit for those seven points. However, two of Herbert’s three touchdown drives came off of turnovers. His team got him the ball at the Wisconsin 36, the Wisconsin 33 and the Wisconsin 30.

With field position like that, Herbert’s scoring drives were less impressive. Ignoring drives after turnovers and his first-half kneel, Justin Herbert’s nine remaining drives included:

  • One Touchdown
  • One Interception
  • 6 Punts
  • One Game-Sealing Drive to Run out the Clock

Not great. Yes, we can’t take away his touchdowns. He had two, critical touchdowns in the game that came off of turnovers. He didn’t lead them to field goals on those. They came away with 14 points because of him. However, a top-NFL scout needs to be able to create his own success and not rely so heavily on his defense.

Justin Herbert Shows Off Stiff Arm and Dual-Threat Ability

Thankfully, for Justin Herbert’s case, he chose to run. His three rushing touchdowns displayed the NFL’s newest delight: dual-threat ability. In the NFL, the game is evolving. Quarterbacks are running more read-options and designed quarterback runs. It’s a new era. NFL play-callers desperately want quarterbacks with versatility.

With successful stiff-arms and a game-winning 30-yard rushing touchdown, Herbert showed off that versatility. It changed the way scouts will look at him.

Although he’s no Lamar Jackson, Herbert’s athleticism in the Rose Bowl saved his lack of throwing success.

Just Enough to Cover-Up Mistakes and Maintain Draft Stock

While some saw an erratic passer, others saw a leader with grit and the clutch-gene. Herbert’s three rushing touchdowns displayed his athleticism. His 30-yard rushing touchdown showed his athleticism and game-winning ability. Then, at the end of the game, his poise on a game-sealing drive demonstrated his “winning effort”. Like Bucky Brooks said, his play “wasn’t always pretty”. But, Herbert did just enough to erase his mistakes.

At the end of the day, the Rose Bowl is still just one game. Justin Herbert’s four-year career for Oregon has been iconic. Some would even put him above the likes of Marcus Mariota in Ducks’ fame. With his highlight-reel three-touchdown scamper and the Rose Bowl “W”, Herbert kept himself in the top-three quarterback discussion.

Top 5 Candidates for 2019 PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year Through Week 4

Easop Winston WSU Houston 2019

The PAC-12 may run the risk of beating each other up this season, but there’s no doubt the conference has a ton of talented players on both sides of the ball.

The quarterback play in the PAC-12 has been arguably as good as ever this season, and a QB is likely to win the coveted 2019 PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year.

Here are five candidates – not all quarterbacks – who could win that award by the end of the 2019 season.

Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon

Long considered a Heisman favorite and potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert has not disappointed in his senior campaign so far.

Herbert has completed a whopping 74.4% of his passes for 1,127 yards and 14 touchdowns through four games this season. He has yet to throw an interception, and his passing efficiency rating is a staggering 183.1.

Herbert is on pace to shatter most of his accomplishments from the last few seasons, and not only has a great chance to be the offensive player of the year in the conference, but he could become the next Oregon quarterback to win the Heisman.

Anthony Gordon, Quarterback, Washington State

Herbert has been a machine of efficiency for the Ducks, but it’s hard not to ignore the staggering volume of statistics that have been posted by Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon through three games.

Gordon has thrown for 1,894 yards already this season, with a stellar 74.9% completion rate and 21 touchdowns – lead of course by his nine touchdown game against UCLA.

Gordon does have four interceptions, his biggest knock so far, but if he keeps playing like this it will be really hard to not give him the award

He is on pace for nearly 6,000 yards through the air, which would shatter the NCAA record of 5,833 set by B.J. Symons at Texas Tech back in 2003. If he even places in the top-five, the award is probably his.

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Washington State Cougars wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. (8) scores on a 39-yard touchdown reception during an NCAA football game between the Houston Cougars and the Washington State Cougars at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, on September 13, 2019.

Easop Winston, Wide Receiver, Washington State

The man on the receiving end of so much of Gordon’s damage done this season has been Washington State receiver Easop Winston, who himself has made a pretty compelling case to the offensive player of the year in the conference.

Winston already has 348 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns on the season, putting him on pace for just over 1,000 yards and 24 touchdowns. While he probably won’t reach those lofty totals, if he continues to produce big time numbers he has a chance to be recognized at the end of the season.

Jacob Eason, Quarterback, Washington

The former Georgia quarterback is having a very solid start to his career as a Husky, and while he’s behind both Herbert and Gordon statistically, it’s not impossible to imagine him getting the nod if he continues to play well and the Huskies go undefeated from here on out.

Eason has recorded 1,063 yards and 10 touchdowns through four games this season, along with a nice 73.1% completion rate and just two interceptions.

He has some catching up to do if he wants this award, but stranger things have happened.

Isaiah Hodgins, Wide Receiver, Oregon State

A true dark horse for this award, Hodgins plays receiver for a bad PAC-12 team, but the numbers he has put up so far indicate he could be a wildcard candidate for offensive player of the year.

As Oregon State’s only real threat offensively, Hodgins has already hauled in 23 receptions for 347 yards and five touchdowns on the young season. While he has a long, long way to go to move past Herbert and Gordon to win the award, he does have a lot going for him in a relatively inept Oregon State offense.

It will be hard for anyone to top Herbert or Gordon for this award, but there’s no question that the PAC-12 has a lot of talented offensive players in the 2019 season. Still, with no true offensive standouts in the Pac-12 South, will the 2019 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year’s best candidates only come from the Pac-12 North?

Ten Pac-12 Players Who May Be NFL Draft 2020 First-Round Picks

Ten Pac-12 Players NFL Draft 2020 First-Round Picks

The PAC-12 may not be viewed as the powerhouse that the SEC is, but make no mistake, each year plenty of high-quality talent is selected in the NFL draft out of PAC-12 schools.

It’s too early to tell, but players like Andre Dillard (WSU), Byron Murphy (UW) Marquise Blair (Utah) and Kaleb McGary (UW) all have a chance to make an immediate impact in the NFL after getting drafted last season.

The 2019 college football season is nearly upon us, and once again the PAC-12 has numerous candidates who might hear their name called early on draft day next season.

10 players out of the PAC-12 who have a realistic chance of getting selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Justin Herbert Oregon Ducks

Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon

Herbert is not only a near-lock to go in the first round next season – barring an injury – he has a great chance to go No. 1 overall. It was definitely a surprise when the star quarterback elected to return to college for his senior season, coming off a junior year where he threw for 3,151 yards with an excellent 29-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, leading the Ducks to a 9-4 record.

Herbert said he felt he had unfinished business with the Ducks, and he’ll return as an immediate candidate for the Heisman trophy, alongside Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Herbert has been praised for his ball placement, knowledge of the game and his sneaky mobility, although durability concerns and a tendency to stare down receivers could hurt him at the professional level.

Expect Herbert to be the first PAC-12 player selected next year, and possibly the first player overall.

Laviska Shenault Colorado Buffaloes Pac-12

Laviska Shenault, Receiver, Colorado

Laviska Shenault is not only one of the best names in the PAC-12 (more on that later) but he has a real chance to be a top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, particularly if he can build off an incredible junior season.

At Colorado, Shenault hauled in 86 receptions for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns, while also carrying the ball 17 times for 115 yards and five more touchdowns.

Shenault is listed at six-foot-two and 215 pounds, and most scouts think he’ll time out around a 4.40, which gives him an extraordinary blend of size and speed.

He’s still a bit raw as a receiver, but his versatility, size, speed, and instincts make it easy to see him as a future star – and one that should get drafted early in 2020.

Walker Little Stanford OL NFL Draft

Walker Little, Tackle, Stanford

Stanford tackle Walker Little is anything but – standing at six-foot-seven and weighing 317 pounds. He was co-freshman offensive player of the year in the PAC-12 two years ago and was an absolute beast at clearing rushing lanes for Bryce Love of the Cardinal.

Little is already projected as a mid-first round pick, and if he can stay healthy (he’s battled injuries in the past) there’s little reason to assume he won’t find himself as an NFL starter as soon as 2020.

Calvin Throckmorton Pac-12 NFL Draft

Calvin Throckmorton, Tackle, Oregon

On nearly any other list, Laviska Shenault would be the best name. However, it’s pretty darn hard to beat Oregon tackle Calvin Throckmorton, a name that sounds like it belongs in the Harry Potter universe.

Throckmorton is listed as a tackle, although he has experience as a guard as well – and many analysts believe that is where he will end up in the NFL.

His explosiveness is nearly unparalleled, and his ability to pull and locate blockers makes him an attractive piece to run-heavy NFL squads. He does struggle out in open space however and might be a liability as a pass-blocker.

Throckmorton will have to mitigate some of those concerns if he wants to end up in the first round, but his size, explosiveness, and high football IQ make him a tantalizing prospect entering his fifth season at UO.

Trey Adams Washington Huskies Football offensive lineman

Trey Adams, Tackle, Washington

Trey Adams is an absolute unit, standing at six-foot-seven and weighing over 300 pounds. Despite that he has shown good body control as a pass-protector, making him a potential left tackle in the NFL and capable protector of the blindside.

Durability is a big concern here, as the UW star has missed big chunks in each of the last two seasons. He’ll need to be healthy and productive next season if he wants to find himself getting selected in the first round, but he does have the talent to go that high.

Jaylon Johnson Utah Utes cornerback

Jaylon Johnson, Cornerback, Utah

Jaylon Johnson enters his third season at Utah coming off a sophomore campaign that saw him snag four interceptions, along with 31 solo tackles and two sacks.

Johnson has the near-perfect size for an NFL corner, standing six-foot and weighing 190 pounds. He’s physical and aggressive at the point of contact, making him a great asset against bigger, more physical NFL receivers.

He’s raw, and has some issues in quick throws. But Johnson has the tools and build to be a high-quality defensive back in the NFL. He could find himself getting picked in the first-round of the NFL Draft if he has a strong junior campaign.

Jacob Eason QB Washington transfer from Georgia bulldogs

Jacob Eason, Quarterback, Washington

The range of outcomes that are possible for new Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason is nearly infinite.

The transfer from Georgia sat out last year but is expected to start for Chris Peterson and company next season. Eason wasn’t bad the one season he started at Georgia, completing 55.1% of his passes for 2,430 yards with a nice 16-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

But after losing his job to Jake Fromm, Eason will have to prove himself in the Pacific Northwest. If he can harness his absolute cannon of an arm, he could easily find himself getting selected by a QB needy team in the first round.

Troy Dye 2020 NFL Draft Oregon linebacker

Troy Dye, Linebacker, Oregon

Dye has started for the Ducks over the past three seasons, posting remarkably consistent numbers throughout his career. His 182 solo tackles are already 22nd all-time in the PAC-12, and his 125 assisted tackles rank 16th.

Dye possesses excellent range and instincts as a linebacker, and his size and style of play should mesh well with the current NFL style.

He does have some issues in run protection, often relying on seeing the ball-carrier and chasing them rather than anticipating, but those are things he can learn at the pro level. It would take a step forward from Dye for him to jump into the first round, but as it stands he has a great chance to be a high-quality NFL starter for a long time.

KJ Costello Pac-12 conference quarterback Stanford

K.J. Costello, Quarterback, Stanford

Scouts, coaches and general managers love their tall quarterbacks. It’s why Paxton Lynch was an NFL Draft first-rounder and Russell Wilson fell into the third – even though Lynch is now fighting for a job backing up Wilson in Seattle.

K.J. Costello stands six-foot-five and weighs a lean 215 pounds, and his size and absolute rocket arm make him an appealing potential first-round target next season.

He led the Cardinal to a 9-4 record by throwing for 3,540 yards with a nice 29-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a solid 65.1% completion percentage.

Costello’s IQ in the pocket is excellent, and he has complete trust in his receivers – often making challenging throws and seeing openings before anyone else can.

He’s a bit limited mobility wise – as most six-foot-five quarterbacks are – but another strong season could vault Costello into the first-round conversation, particularly if multiple quarterback-needy teams emerge. He may end up being a Pac-12 NFL Draft first-rounder.

Christian Rector USC defensive end

Christian Rector, EDGE, USC

EDGE defenders were all the rage in the NFL Draft first-round last year, and while the PAC-12 doesn’t have a huge laundry list of elite, draft-eligible pass-rushers in 2019, one who could sneak his way into first-round consideration with a strong campaign is USC’s Christan Rector.

Entering his fifth year with the Trojans, Rector will need to show consistency if he wants to get attention at the top of the NFL Draft. An imposing six-foot-four and 270 pounds, Rector can absolutely wreak havoc off the edge – but too often he disappears for entire games.

His hand placement and use of length have been strengths of his in the past, but he often gets too upright and struggles to fill gaps in the run-game – both traits that he’ll need to improve on in his final season down in Southern California.