The Washington Huskies rank #25 in the USA Today preseason poll. Every day from August 1st-25th, NFL Draft Insiders will break down a team from their rankings starting with 25 and counting down all the way to 1.
Today I'll preview the Washington Huskies. The Huskies are the sixth team from the PAC 12 to be ranked in the top 25 overall.
Washington lost head coach Steve Sarkisian to the USC Trojans. The Huskies replaced him with former Boise State head coach Chris Peterson.
Peterson lost a lot of pieces on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Keith Price, running back Bishop Sankey, and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Huskies' best player on the offensive side of the ball is wide receiver Kasen Williams. Williams had back-to-back seasons with six receiving touchdowns before a career low season with 29 receptions and one receiving touchdown. His junior campaign was limited because Williams broke his leg against California. The broken leg injury caused Williams to miss the rest of his junior season.
Williams needs to have a breakout senior season and a strong draft stock if he expects to maintain his draft stock as a third-round prospect.
Outside of Williams, Washington's only other strong point is offensive line. Washington has four seniors on the offensive line and junior left guard Dexter Charles. The rest of the Huskies' offense lacks the experience to win. Head Coach Chris Peterson has to take guys like sophomore quarterback Cyler Miles and running back Dwayne Washington by molding ths guys into winners.
On defense Washington has one impact player on the defensive line, one impact player starting at one of the linebacker postions, and one impact player on the secondary. The rest of this defense is a joke.
The defensive line is led by nose tackle Danny Shelton. He can play nose guard in a 4-3 or nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Shelton is more suited for nose tackle in a 3-4 defense even though he currently plays in a 4-3 scheme. Shelton can use the zero technique, power moves to attack the interior offensive linemen, and block shedding to stop the run or pressure the opposing quarterback. Imagine Alameda Ta'amu without the character issues he displayed after the Steelers drafted him. That is what Danny Shelton is like.
The star player at linebacker is middle linebacker John Timu who will be named defensive captain for the second year in a row. Timu has yet to post a season with 50 tackles or more even though he has started every season at middle linebacker since his freshman season. Replacing Mason Foster has been no easy feat for Timu.
On secondary the Huskies' have Marcus Peters. Peters reminds me of Desmond Trufant and he played next to Trufant as a freshman. Peters is now a junior and will be one of my sleepers in the 2015 NFL Draft if he declares. Right now I have him graded as a third-round pick. Everyone else on this secondary is either a sophomore or a freshman. It will be up to Peters to lead the way for this secondary.
Prediction: 9-3 Washington should start 4-0 just like last year. They could climb up a few spots in the top 25. They have five tough PAC 12 opponents in Stanford, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona State, and Oregon State. Worst case scenario is they go 7-5 and lose to all five opponents. The only one of those teams the Huskies face on the road is the Oregon Ducks. Every other opponent plays in Washington. Oregon State is only one of these teams not to be ranked in the pre-season polls. I say the Huskies defeat Oregon State and UCLA. Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong is one of the better receivers looking for revenge against Peters who shut him down last time. The other thing to consider is that Brett Hundley has no receivers to throw to. Washington will upset Arizona State or UCLA, but not both. Losing to Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State seems realistic enough to happen. Washington gets revenge on UCLA after losing to the Bruins and the Sun Devils claim revenge on Washington after losing to the Huskies in 2013. A 9-3 record in Chris Peterson's first season is a reasonable request for Husky Nation.
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