Whole Nine Sports

Top 3 Players from the Pac-12 (Defense)

Our second installment of a top prospects from a Power 5 conference brings us to the west coast of America as we take a look at the Big 10 conference. The Pac-12 is routinely one of the best conferences in football as top-to-bottom.

Defensive Line

Greg Gaines (Washington) – Gaines was able to get all of the attention on him in 2018 after the departure of Vita Vea, and he didn’t disappoint. He’ll probably end up as a nose tackle in most systems, but he showed off some pass rushing prowess during one on one drills at the Senior Bowl.

Renell Wren (Arizona State) – The 6’4, 315 pound player still has room to add weight, which is probably the biggest positive most teams see in him. He had a disappointing season, but he should still get drafted based on his potential.

PJ Johnson (Arizona) – A huge player with a ton of potential, Johnson measures in at 6’4, 335 pounds and should find some success at nose tackle. He has a ton of power in his thick frame, and just needs to learn how to use it to overpower the man in front of him.


Cameron Smith (USC) – While Smith struggled with injuries during each of the past two seasons, he’s still an incredibly impressive player when he’s able to get/stay on the field. He’s got the ability to compete for a starting spot from day one on an NFL roster and will be a valuable pick.

Ben Burr-Kirven (Washington) – The nation’s leading tackler in 2018, Burr-Kirven is undersized and probably won’t be able to succeed as a middle linebacker at the NFL level, but he has the potential to be an excellent player as an outside linebacker as an early Day Three pick.

Porter Gustin (USC)- More of an EDGE prospect, Gustin is another impact player when he’s on the field. Gustin has a knack for getting after the quarterback, and is a sure tackler for an outside linebacker. Gustin has the potential to be a huge riser at the NFL Combine if he can prove that he’s healthy.

Defensive Backs

Byron Murphy (Washington) – Murphy is far and away the best corner in the conference, and if he were a little taller, he’d probably be a top five player in this class. Murphy is still an incredibly refined corner and still has potential to be the first corner off the board.

Taylor Rapp (Washington) – A hard hitting, incredibly rangy safety, Rapp is hard to project. Some scouts have him as a free safety, others have him as a strong. No matter what they think he is, he’s definitely the best safety in the class.

Marvell Tell (USC) – Another very versatile safety, Tell is the kind of player who would succeed in the modern NFL at free safety. He’s adept at coming downhill, and has a high football IQ. He also wraps up and tackles incredibly well for a safety.