Huskies, Cougars each return three of the Pac-12’s top 10 highest-graded players in 2017

UW’s Jake Browning and WSU’s Luke Falk are among the Pac-12’s best, according to Pro Football Focus, which notes that UW’s Greg Gaines was one of the most underrated players in the nation last season.

Let Apple Cup fever begin again.

After playing for the Pac-12 North title last November, the Huskies and Cougars are expected to challenge for the conference title again in 2017. Having two of the nation’s most prolific quarterbacks is a good place to start, and both Washington and Washington State have top-end talent beyond the backfield.

Pro Football Focus, in fact, lists three Huskies and three Cougars among its top 10 highest-graded players from 2016 who will return next fall. USC had two players make the list, including QB Sam Darnold (No. 1) and LB Cameron Smith (No. 9)

Here’s where the UW and WSU players ranked and some of what PFF said about each player:

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2. UW QB Jake Browning

What PFF said: “Browning’s steady play since his freshman year is big-part of the Huskies’ recent return to national prominence. Browning doesn’t have a huge arm but he is accurate; his 70.6 accuracy percentage ranks No. 11 among Power-5 quarterbacks. Browning spends time working on his craft and improving his game each offseason with last offseason seeing him work on his deep ball accuracy. He saw the results on the field as his deep accuracy percentage of 48.6 ranks No. 4 among returning Power-5 quarterbacks. The 2017 version of Browning should be even more polished that previous versions and ready to take the Huskies back to the playoff.”

3. WSU G Cody O’Connell

What PFF said: “The Cougars’ offensive scheme spreads the opposing defense out across the field and aids the offensive linemen with very large splits to help identify rushers. However, O’Connell was still one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the nation last…

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