BROCK AND SALK

Ranked: Brock’s top 5 UW Huskies in 2024 NFL Draft

Apr 24, 2024, 4:49 PM | Updated: 4:53 pm

UW Huskies Rome Odunze...

UW Huskies' Rome Odunze celebrates after a win over Oregon on Oct. 14, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The 2024 NFL Draft has a chance to be a historic one for the UW Huskies.

Why UW Huskies OL Fautanu is the right fit for Seahawks

The Huskies sent 13 players to the NFL scouting combine, which is two more than the program-record of 11 NFL draftees set in 1983 and 1992. However, both of those drafts featured 12 rounds. Since the draft moved to seven rounds in 1994, UW’s best mark is 10 draftees in 1998. So the Huskies have a real shot of breaking or at least tying the program’s record for most selections in the modern draft era when the draft starts Thursday.

College football analyst and ex-UW Huskies quarterback Brock Huard, a 1999 NFL draftee, knows a thing or two about the current UW class and the one of 1998. With a chance to tie or break the mark set by Huard’s teammates in 1998, the former NFL QB ranked his top five Huskies for the 2024 draft Wednesday on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

1. WR Rome Odunze

Odunze is projected to be the first UW player off the board and is a potential top-10 pick during Thursday’s first round. In fact, Odunze could end up being the highest receiver ever taken out of UW. Both John Ross (2017) and Reggie Williams (2004) were selected No. 9 overall. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Odunze is a two-time Associated Press All-American and two-time All-Pac-12 first-team selection, and he piled up nearly 3,000 receiving and 20 TD receptions over the the past two seasons. He was also a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (nation’s best wide receiver) last season. Odunze makes up one-third of the trio that highlights the draft’s high-caliber receivers, which also includes Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and LSU’s Malik Nabers.

“His character is unmatched, his play on the field is unmatched,” Huard said. “His fourth-down conversion from your own 28-yard line in the Apple Cup, the only reason (UW) went to the national title game was because of that conversion. And I just love him from the inside out, man. He’s one of my favorite Huskies of all time going to play in this league. I’ve compared him to (former Arizona Cardinals star) Larry Fitzgerald. I think he’s in that kind of caliber and going to play a long, long time and make a place really, really happy.”

2. OL Troy Fautanu

Fautanu is a projected mid-to-late first-round pick after starring at left tackle with the Huskies. Fautanu helped UW’s O-line win the Joe Moore Award, which is given to nation’s best offensive line, and won the Morris Trophy (best lineman in the Pac-12) last season. The 6-foot-4, 317-pound Fautanu is a popular pick to end up with the Seattle Seahawks at No. 16 overall. You can read more about Fautanu in Huard’s final Seattle Seahawks Draft Profile.

3. QB Michael Penix Jr.

The Heisman Trophy runner-up isn’t at the top of this list or at least at number two? That’s how talented the top end of this Huskies group appears to be. Penix was a revelation for UW in his two seasons after transferring from Indiana. The 6-foot-2, 216-pound QB amassed 9,544 yards and 67 TDs while completing 65% of his throws in a Husky uniform. Penix, known for his pinpoint accuracy in the pocket, won the Maxwell Award (given to college football’s best all-around player) and was a finalist the Davey O’Brien Award (the nation’s top QB). UW has a strong history of producing NFL QBs, including the likes of Warren Moon, Chris Chandler and Mark Brunell, and Huard believes Penix is on par with the best.

“You get 13, 14 of us (former UW QBs) together and say, ‘OK, who throws the best? Who throws the best ball out of all you guys?’” Huard said. “… It’s going to be a tie between Warren Moon and Michael Penix. That’s the esteem that I hold him in, and I think my peers there in Huskyville would hold him in. He’s an absolute just beauty to watch.”

4. OL Roger Rosengarten

Fautanu isn’t the only member of UW’s Joe Moore Award winning offensive line that could potentially hear his named called on the draft’s first day. The 6-foot-5, 308-pound Rosengarten started all 28 games over the past two seasons playing on opposite of Fautanu at right tackle, which means he was tasked with protecting the left-handed Penix’s blindside. Rosengarten showed off his athleticism at the combine with a 4.92 40-yard dash.

“The fastest O-lineman in the draft by the way, much to Troy Fautanu’s chagrin, but it was Roger Rosengarten,” Huard said. “I’ve seen some mocks (with him going to) San Francisco in the late first round at 31. He’s a guy whose stock has gone up and up and up. The Michigan game is about the only game he’s played poorly. … (He) is going to be a great pro, he’s going to play 10-plus years.”

5. DE Bralen Trice

The lone defensive player to crack Huard’s top five is a two-time Associated Press All-American and two-time All-Pac-12 honoree. Trice piled up 23.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks during 27 games over the past two seasons, including three tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on his way to being named defensive MVP of the Sugar Bowl victory over Texas. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound pass rusher did nothing but produce at Montlake, but he doesn’t have elite measurables. He ran a 4.72 40-yard dash.

“I love Bralen Trice,” Huard said. “I profiled him earlier. I don’t know how he fits here in Seattle. (He’s) going to be probably a late-second to third-round pick just because he doesn’t have all the measurables. He’s not particularly long, not particularly twitchy … but at every time the last two years when a struggling Husky defense that gave up a lot of yards needed a big play, who was all around it? Who was all over it? It was (Trice). … (He’s) durable, available, has a nose for the football and a motor that never, ever, ever stops. He made some huge plays, including in the Sugar Bowl, where the offense was a lot of the story, but his defense was why they went on to play for the national championship.”

Honorable mentions

Before delving into the top five, Huard mentioned a few Huskies that just missed the list. The three Huard highlighted were running back Dillon Johnson, tight end Jack Westover and safety Dom Hampton.

Listen to Brock Huard’s rankings of the 2024 UW Huskies draft class at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6-10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on UW Huskies football and the NFL Draft

Why rankings don’t matter for UW’s Odunze, other top WRs
Klatt: Why Seahawks should draft Michael Penix Jr. at No. 16
• UW’s Fautanu shares thoughts on possible move to guard in NFL
UW Huskies Spring Practice: Observations after big scrimmage day

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