ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. says this year’s Washington Huskies can win it all
Despite losing five of its star players to the 2017 Draft, there’s plenty of hype surrounding this year’s Washington Huskies football team, which was ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll. And while Vegas has Alabama as a 5-2 favorite to win the 2017-18 college football title game, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes UW can win it all.
Vegas has Washington at 30-1 odds to win a national title, but Kiper told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk that Washington has the fewest flaws out of the top-ranked teams.
“There’s not that defined, big-time team this year,” Kiper said. “I don’t see a team right now that you can say, ‘Man I’m confident they’ll win a national title.’ I don’t feel that way about anybody.
“And I thought about it at the end, I said which team has the fewest flaws, the fewest concerns? Which team has the leadership that you need on both sides, and some veterans, and a great coach? And I just came back to Washington.
“With (quarterback Jake) Browning and the offensive skill people they have, the line, the defensive personnel in the front seven, even on the back-end, I just said, ‘OK, they’re the team with the fewest concerns’… they got a taste of (being close to a national title) and I have a lot of respect for Chris Petersen and that staff.”
Kiper also shared his opinion on a few Washington standouts:
Vita Vea, DT: “He’s (ranked) 16 on the big board right now. As far as defensive tackles go, he’s right there at the top. There’s some competition there with Christian Wilkins who’s moving back inside for Clemson there and for Maurice Hurst from Michigan, some pretty good ones there, but I think he can be the first one taken.”
Azeem Victor, LB: “Coming back, you know, how does he play? I liked everything I saw with him. He gets to the football, he flows to the ball, he’s instinctive. I have him right now as the second-best senior inside linebacker behind Rashaan Evans from Alabama… I’d say Victor with a big year would be in the second- or third-round discussion.”
Trey Adams, OT: “I had him a little higher and I just went with Connor Williams, who was the most consistent left tackle I saw when I watched them. Orlando Brown, Oklahoma is another one. Adams right now is right there as the second- or third-best underclassman offensive tackle. And I’d say ahead of (Notre Dame’s) Mike McGlinchey, the senior, because McGlinchey I think is going to project at right tackle in the NFL. I would think Adams has a chance to be a first-round draft choice.”
Jake Browning, QB: “Great college quarterback. We’ve seen it before, guys, we’ve seen a lot of guys who have won big in college who don’t project nearly as high. So is he in the league? There’s a Washington State quarterback, Luke Falk, who has a second-round grade right now, he’s a senior. He made a good decision to go back (cites arm strength). But I’d say for Browning, hey, a great college quarterback who will not project as high to the NFL as some of those press clippings indicate.”