[Bumping to the front page, great read - dvieira]
The NFL draft is one of my favourite events of the year. It brings the promise of new potential to my favourite NFL teams and is the final send off for the great Oregon players we've watched develop. Every year I hope to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft a former Oregon standout, but instead wallow as Jonathan Stewart now carries the ball for the evil Panthers.
With the first round now less than 20 days away, I've decided to take a look at the draft prospects of the Ducks' departing players. In order to limit the numbers, I've only examined the Ducks that participated in the Oregon Pro Day in March (and only the players that were on this year's active roster). In total that's 15 players. Suffice to say, not all of those guys are going to be drafted, so I've focused on those with a legitimate shot of having their name called (in my opinion).
Casey Matthews, LB
The highest ranked of the Duck draft hopefuls. Casey is the only Oregon player I see being drafted high enough that he might be selected to fill a "need" of an NFL team. He played both inside and outside at Oregon and there's been talk of him being able to play both positions at the next level. While scouts like his football knowledge and pedigree, they're a little scared of his size, as he gives up 2 inches and 25lbs to his brother.
I see him projecting to an inside linebacker in a 3-4 or to the Sam backer in a Tampa 2 style 4-3. In neither system is that "The Guy," which will allow the coaches to get his maturity and leadership on the field while possibly masking some athletic shortcomings. While his injury at the combine has moved him down some draft boards to a 4-5th round pick. I see a team taking a chance on his last name and taking a perceived flier on him in the late third round.
Possible drafting teams: Indianapolis, Houston, Chicago
Kenny Rowe, DE/LB
Kenny wasn't invited to the Combine, which is a travesty in my mind. Yes his production waned a bit this year, but he was still an impact player when he wasn't being asked to cover Auburn's wide receivers. He plays the swing position of DE/LB really well, but as a "tweener" falls by the wayside in a Draft that is incredibly deep at the DE and 3-4 OLB positions.
But in my opinion Kenny is essentially a lighter version of Terrell Suggs. In fact, Suggs played at a lighter weight earlier in his career, when he was racking up sacks. I see one of either Rex or Rob Ryan, or the Ravens themselves, taking him for some depth and a bit of an experiment. I think he's a late round draft pick, and at worst a Free Agent signing that will crack a lineup in the League.
Possible drafting/signing teams: Jets, Ravens, Cowboys.
Jeff Maehl, WR
Ah yes, let the comparisons to Austin Collie, Wes Welker, and Kevin Curtis begin. Except, as we've learned, the whole scrappy white guy in the slot isn't all there is to Mr. Maehl's play. Oh yeah and setting a combine record in the 3 cone drill, tops in the 60 yard shuttle, and 2nd in the 20 yard shuttle at his position may have revealed what us Oregon fans already know, the man does is best work when he can get down field and get some separation. Add to that his solid perimeter blocking game, and a team that likes to run it outside and mix it up in the passing game will pick him up in the fifth. My guess is that joins a former teammate on a team that could use his special teams play as an heir apparent to their own player of his ilk, the Steelers (Hines Ward) or Carolina (Mushin Muhammad)
Possible drafting teams: Pittsburgh, Carolina, Jacksonville.
Brandon Bair, DT/DE
Mike Mayock has labelled him as a steal of a pick for a team that needs a 3-4 DE. Yes he's light for that position, but if there's a role we've seen this man play well it's to crash the line, take on blockers, and knock the ball down. That's everything you would want in a 3-4 end. Mayock has him going at the top of the 4th round. I think he falls a little due to his age, but is drafted around the end of the 4th or beginning of the 5th.
Possible drafting teams: New England, Houston, Kansas City.
Talmadge Jackson III, CB
"The Curtain." Apparently a first team All Pac-10 selection isn't enough to warrant much draft consideration from the "experts." TJ III is a player who has found his way on to the field consistently since his first game as a true freshman brings a lot of experience with him. And given the success of Byrd, Chung, and Ward in the league I think the Oregon DBs are establishing a reputation among coaches. I was surprised at how early Ward was drafted last year (though Mr. Takimoto called it in his Draft Day open thread). I think there will be some coach out there who recognizes the talent, even if he is a bit undersized and spends a late round draft pick on him. At worst he's a free agent pick up to play special teams or play on the practice squad.
Possible drafting/signing teams: Denver (John Fox seems to like Oregon Players), any other team needing a CB.
I think that's it for Oregon Players who will be drafted, but I'll offer some quick hits on the other Pro Day participants.
Javes Lewis: Maybe Javes and his agent are aware of something I'm not.
My Prediction for 2011: University of Phoenix diploma recipient.
DJ Davis: Reliable if unspectacular wide receiver, who is familiar with a spread offense and at his best when he is blocking at mid level and down field. Sounds like an ideal CFL receiver to me.
My Prediction for 2011: 2 touchdown catches for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Spencer Paysinger: A good showing at the Oregon Pro day and an All Pac 10 honourable mention may lead to an outside shot at a free agent signing.
My Prediction for 2011: He joins some Oregon Alum on the Las Vegas Locos of the UFL.
Marvin Johnson: Might rotational defensive play and standing out on special teams be enough to get him onto an AFL team?
My Prediction for 2011: Wearing jersey number 7 on defense for the Iowa Barnstormers.
Bo Thran and Jordan Holmes: While both were serviceable, reliable performers on the Line that earned conference honours, they're not on the standard professionally of Unger, Schwartz, or Tuopo. I think Holmes probably has the size and smarts to play professionally somewhere, but Thran will be a stretch.
My prediction for 2011: Holmes, depth on a CFL or UFL OLine. Thran, Oregon Graduate Assistant.
Malachi Lewis: Is there much of a professional market for a third string collegiate Tight End? What's that? Jordan Cameron (USC), whose career receiving stats (16 rec, 126yds, 1TD) are entirely from his senior year, is the 4th ranked TE in the draft and got a combine invite? That makes sense.
My prediction for 2011: Cameron is considered to be very athletic, Lewis' highlights on his Goducks.com page lists "third fastest time among TEs at winter timing." Lewis will help coach high school football in Oxnard while owning a construction company.
Chad Peppars: In my opinion Chad was the TJ III of the backups and special teams, solid career while not entirely noticeable.
My Prediction for 2011: Have you heard of the Continental Indoor Football League? I wonder if Mr. Peppars has...
Bryson Littlejohn: An integral part of the Linebacker rotation the past two years, and one of the more athletic players on the defense.
My Prediction for 2011: Graduate Assistant, University of Oregon. Defensive MVP, Littlejohn family Thanksgiving Football game.
Andres Reed: Andres, Thank you for your efforts in the New Mexico and Portland State games. Much appreciated.
My Prediction for 2011: Standout in the Medford Community.
Am I on the mark? Way off? Let me know your thoughts.