You won’t find any Huskies listed in the first round of Todd McShay’s way-too-early NFL mock draft for 2015.
But there are four Huskies who will have a chance to work their way there next season:
DANNY SHELTON, senior nose tackle
Shelton, an honorable-mention all-Pac-12 pick last season, is poised for a mammoth senior season. Being a nose tackle, that may not materialized as much in the statistics, but I sense he’s more motivated and determined to prove himself as one of the Pac-12 top defensive lineman.
MARCUS PETERS, redshirt junior cornerback
Peters, with those long arms, good size and solid instincts, just looks the part of a new-era NFL cornerback. He had a team-high five interceptions in 2013, with 14 passes defended. If they’re smart, Pac-12 quarterbacks won’t throw the ball Peters’ way much next season, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he works his way into the first round.
SHAQ THOMPSON, junior linebacker
Thompson is a bit of a wild card, in part because he, like Peters, will only be a junior next season. His best bet is as an outside linebacker in the NFL, but it will be interesting to see what he does in what I expect will be a limited role as a running back and kick returner in 2014. I have little doubt that Thompson will stack up well with the “measureables” that NFL scouts love to drool over.
HAU’OLI KIKAHA, senior defensive end
After two years and two ACL tears, Kikaha was UW’s biggest surprise in 2013 — recording 13 sacks (second-most in school history) and earning second-team all-Pac-12 honors. The guy just knows how to get to the quarterback. A great nugget from ESPN.com’s KC Joyer, who noted that Kikaha’s 45 combined quarterback hurries and knockdowns last season, according to Stats LLC, tied him with Pitt’s Aaron Donald — a first-round pick by the Rams last week — and “and ahead of such first-round pass-rushing luminaries as Anthony Barr (27), Dee Ford (28) and Marcus Smith (37). A showing of equal or near equal impact of this caliber would help vault Kikaha into certain first-round consideration despite his injury history.”