The 2014 NFL draft has come and gone and taken some of the best Pac-12 players with it. But, there is still a lot -- A LOT -- of talent left in the league for the 2014 season, including several underclassmen who finished in the top 10 in different statistical categories last season.
Here’s a breakdown of the top returners in the Pac-12:
PASSING YARDS PER GAME
1. Sean Mannion, Oregon State, 358.6 yards per game (1st in Pac-12 in 2013)
2. Connor Halliday, Washington State, 353.6 yards per game (2nd)
3. Jared Goff, Cal, 292.3 yards per game (3rd)
4. Marcus Mariota, Oregon, 281.9 yards per game (4th)
5. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State, 259.6 yards per game (5th)
6. Brett Hundley, UCLA, 236.2 yards per game (7th)
7. Cody Kessler, USC, 212.0 yards per game (8th)
8. Travis Wilson, Utah, 203.0 yards per game (9th)
Of note: We keep talking about how strong the Pac-12 quarterbacks will be next season, but the fact eight of the top-10 passers from last season will be back in 2014 is a bit ridiculous. Last season, the SEC didn’t have anyone who averaged more than 350 yards per game. Its only player who averaged more than 300 yards per game (Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, 316.5 yards per game) is gone. The Big 12 had one player average more than 300 yards per game (Baylor’s Bryce Petty), and he’s back for 2014. But between the ACC and Big Ten quarterbacks, there wasn’t a single one that even averaged more than 300 passing yards per game.
RUSHING YARDS PER GAME:
1. Byron Marshall, Oregon, 86.5 yards per game (5th)
2. Tre Madden, USC, 63.9 yards per game (7th)
3. Michael Adkins II, Colorado, 59.4 yards per game (8th)
4. Thomas Tyner, Oregon, 59.2 yards per game (9th)
5. Brett Hundley, UCLA, 57.5 yards per game (10th)
Of note: The top two rushers last season were both underclassmen who declared early for the NFL draft (Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and Washington’s Bishop Sankey). The third- and fourth-ranked rushers were both seniors. This is a rare category where two players from the same school are both in the current top five and last season’s top 10. However, it’ll be interesting to watch the position battle between Marshall and Tyner to see which finishes this season as the Ducks’ top rusher, and that player could likely be at the top of this list come season’s end.
RECEIVING YARDS PER GAME:
1. Dres Anderson, Utah, 83.5 yards per game (4th)
2. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State, 80.1 yards per game (5th)
3. Chris Harper, Cal, 77.5 yards per game (6th)
4. Bralon Addison*, Oregon, 68.5 yards per game (8th)
5. Ty Montgomery, Stanford, 68.4 yards per game (9th)
6. Nelson Agholor, USC, 65.5 yards per game (10th)
Of note: For as strong as the conference is in returning QBs, there are a lot of notable receivers not on the list. The top three receivers in the league are gone, and even though Mannion and Halliday averaged more than 350 passing yards per game last season, they don’t have a single returning receiver in the top 10. The conference doesn’t have a returning receiver who averaged more than 100 yards per game in 2013.
TACKLES PER GAME:
1. Addison Gillam, Colorado, 8.9 per game (1st)
2. Eric Kendricks, UCLA, 8.8 per game (3rd)
3. Jason Whittingham, Utah, 8.1 per game (6th)
4. Derrick Malone, Oregon, 8.1 per game (7th)
5. Tyrequek Zimmerman, Oregon State, 8.0 (T-8th)
Of note: Gillam, who was a freshman last season, joins Mannion in the select group of individuals who led in a statistical category in 2013 and is back for 2014. In this group, Zimmerman is the only non-linebacker.
1. Steven Nelson, Oregon State, 6 (T-1st)
2. Marcus Peters, Washington, 5 (T-5th)
3. Greg Henderson, Colorado, 4 (T-9th)
4. Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Arizona, 4 (T-9th)
Of note: Quarterbacks, feel free to sling it. With only a handful of defensive threats deep, some signal-callers are going to feel much more confident sending a ball down field.
1. Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington, 13 (2nd)
2. Jacoby Hale*, Utah, 6.5 (4th)
3. Tony Washington, Oregon, 7.5 (T-9th)
Of note: We’ve talked a lot this offseason, and even in this story, about how good the quarterbacks are going to be this season. Well, here’s one more reason why they’ll be so good -- so few pass rushers return. Two (maybe three) of the top 10 from last season are back. Kikaha, who was second in the Pac-12 last season to Stanford’s Trent Murphy, will be the likely frontrunner for sacks leader in 2014 and he’ll have the opportunity to go up against some of the best QBs in the league -- of the eight returning top-10 quarterbacks, the Huskies will face six.
* Denotes a player who suffered a severe injury that could keep him out of the 2014 season