It's that time of year. The suns out for more than 6 hours a day, the snowfall is less frequent, the start of baseball season means the hockey highlights now take up only 70% of each SportsCentre episode. Okay, maybe things are a touch different up here.
At any rate, it's this time of year when I pull out my keyboard to offer my take on how our Departing Football Ducks will fair in their post-Oregon careers. The NFL has made another move to continue to dominate the news cycle and pushed the draft back to May this year. That, of course, means everyone's had more time to completely over-analyze the players to a borderline nauseating level. But you know who really hasn't been awarded that analysis (until now)? The draft-eligible Oregon players.
With Mariota, Grasau, and Ekpre-Olomu deciding to stay 1 more year, Lyerla's personal issues, and DAT's injury there aren't any standout Oregon Players at the top of many big boards. The highest rated Duck player according to nfldraftscout.com (CBS Draft Portal) - Josh Huff at 136, good enough for a mid 4th round selection. Taylor Hart ranks in at 166, the only other player ranked in the top 200. Let's compare that to the other Pac-12 schools. Here are the number of players each school has ranked in the top 200. (Number in parenthesis is number of players ranked 135 or higher)
Arizona - 1 (1)
ASU - 2 (2)
Cal - 2 (0)
Colorado - 1 (1)
Oregon State - 3 (3)
Stanford - 7 (6)
USC - 6 (3)
UCLA - 4 (3)
Utah - 3 (2)
Washington - 2 (2)
Washington State - 1 (1)
Yikes! While I don't think this will be 2011 (when only Casey Matthews was drafted), I'm guessing most Oregon fans can skip the first round if they want to hear a Duck called. The rules are simple, to get some of AT's patented top-of-the-line analysis, you must have participated in Oregon's Pro Day, Held March 13, to qualify.
But first a quick recap on last year. Last year was the first year in the three I'd been doing this that the results exceeded my predictions. And they did big time. Dion Jordan went top 3, Kyle Long went in the first round, Kiko Alonso was evaluated on play and went in the second, John Boyett got to hear his name called, and Will Murphy collected 17 pay-cheques with the name of real, honest to god, NFL team. Well done class of 2013!
Some other quick notes on that Class Rasaan Vaughn spent time on the Jets' Practice Squad. Isaac Remington started the season on the Eagles Practice Squad and now plays for the Arizona Rattlers of the AFL. Michael Clay was in Dolphins Training Camp and is now an assistant coach with the Eagles. Jackson Rice spent some time in the Washington Rookie Camp. Nick Cody was cut by the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL.
Onto the 2014 class.
De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR
One of the most exciting players in Oregon Football History has been nothing short of a joy to have associated with the program. Not only due to his on the field contributions but the joy he has brought through his community involvement and Twitter feed. Unfortunately Tavon Austin's relative obscurity this year following all his pre-draft hype have people questioning weather speed and agility alone, without at least some size, are worthy of a high draft pick. And then of course, a midseason injury, his first have raised durability questions. I don't think the slow combine will hurt him too much because the tape shows his football speed. He'll be a 3rd-4th round luxury pick for a team that wants his big play ability, and can bear the risk.
Possible Drafting Teams: New Orleans Saints; San Diego Chargers; Kansas City Chiefs
Terrance Mitchell, CB
Mitchell toiled in Ifo's shadow these past two years mostly due to the fact that Ifo got the press following their sophomore seasons for making the plays that resulted from people not willing to throw at Mitchell. Unfortunately it has meant that Mitchell was coming from behind when he decided to declare for the draft. The thing he has going for him is that people draft Corner Backs. They've been the most widely drafted position for years, the NFL is a passing league, and Mitchell has played cover corner in a passing conference. He's a bigger corner with good ball skills who can take chances. I'm not sure who will get drafted first him or DAT. DAT has the better highlight real, but the new attitude is "playing Running Back will get you recruited, playing Corner Back will get you drafted."
Possible Drafting Teams: Seattle, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens
Josh Huff WR
Josh's signature play for 3 and 11/13th's of his career was the catch right before half in the Stanford 2010 game. Darron Thomas pumped once and through a dart to a streaking freshman receiver. I was at the Beach Road Hotel at Bondi Beach on a rainy Grand Final Sunday, and that play turned around the first half for me. Oregon was within a touchdown after trailing by 3 scores. Then he topped it with the winner over OSU this year. The two years in between were marred by nagging injuries, but he persevered and boy did it pay of with a big senior year. I think Huff was unfairly treated for the "I don't want to play in a Rose Bowl" comments. He was part of 4 of the most successful Oregon teams ever, the only team accomplishment that was left was a National Championship. Injuries and size will keep him down, but a big turnaround in character will hopefully help him be an early day 3 draft pick.
Possible Drafting Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, New York Giants
Taylor Hart, DE/DT
Before the 2013 season I thought Hart might be able to play himself into a first round pick. He had a quietly efficient junior campaign and had built on every year. 2013 leaned a little more toward the "silent" part of that scale, but he is still ruthlessly dependable on the line. He's big and has solid play that overcomes a goofy style. He couldn't participate in the Senior Bowl or run at the Combine due to a broken foot, but put up respectable numbers at Oregon's Pro Day. He'll play as a 3-4 defensive end or maybe a rotational 1 technique in Tampa style defense. Again, I think he's a late third to late fourth round pick. Any of these first four could go in any order and I would not be surprised.
Possible Drafting Teams: Kansas City, Cleaveland, Oakland
Boseko Lokombo, LB
BoLo couldn't be BoLo in 2013. With the developing Linebackers around him he wasn't free to take chances the way he could when Kiko and Mike Clay were gumming up the middle. He also never seemed to take on that leadership role the way Clay, Kaddu, and Matthews had done before him. He has great size and is a good athlete who can occasionally make a splash play. Drafting is a long shot, but I think he'll stick on at a training camp all summer. And he's already got his primo CFL draft spot to fall back on.
Possible Drafting/Signing Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills
Avery Patterson, S
Avery's 2012 season was a gift. Filling in for the injured John Boyett he made the most of the opportunity he had a solid if unspectacular 2013 and has a nose for the ball from center field. I don't think it's enough to get him drafted but he'll play some level of football next year.
My Prediction for 2014: After the first round of cuts from a training camp roster, he signs on with a CFL team for the remainder of the season and learns the new position of Defensive Half-Back.
Brian Jackson, S
The Ducks' other safety this year was largely an enigma. No interceptions and only one tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Seemed like a quality glue guy in the secondary, but was definitely the 4th member of that squad.
My prediction for 2014: Heads back to Hoover High School as a coach, and finally gets MTV to produce another season of two a days, to bring back those memories of his Freshman Class, of high school.
Wade Keliikipi and Ricky Havili-Heimuli, DT
The other members of the Defensive Line rotation that particpated in the Pro Day are somewhat interesting. Both have great size but neither posted particularly notable stats which is typical for a 3-4 nose tackle whose job is to eat up blockers. Both are long time contributors and could raise some eyebrows.
My prediction for 2014: Both are signed to training camp rosters and get some meaningful preseason minutes with one sticking on a practice roster. Both return for a game during an NFL bye week and remind fans just how much of a presence they were on the line.
Everett Benyard, OL
A versatile Offensive Lineman with good size? He's the type of utility player you like to have around for depth. He got in for all games this year too
My Prediction for 2014: This year's Will Murphy? Probably not, but after helping Chip Kelly's off-season workouts he sticks around Philadelphia as a member of the Soul.
Daryle Hawkins, WR
Under-appreciated for his 5 year contribution to the team as a backup QB who could run the Scout team to a physical receiver who occasionally had a case of the drops. Though never to Jaison Williams proportions.
My Prediction for 2014: Sets a record for being involved in the most trick plays in a single season of the Continental Indoor Football League.
Drew Howell, LS
As a reliable long snapper you can eek out a solid living in the NFL for 10 or so years until the League Minimum Veteran salary climbs to high to justify keeping you around. You make a couple tackles and try to stay out of mind and consider life after football. Howell may want to make that consideration a little early.
My Prediction for 2014: He and Alejandro Maldonado establish a special teams camp for kids in Southern California. It goes great except for the guy in the stands, who looks a lot like Matt Barkley in a moustache taunting them every day.
Lavasier Tuinei, WR
After bouncing back and forth between the CFL and NFL the past two years, it looks like LT wants to give it one last shot.
My Prediction for 2014: Bounces around between a CFL team and... another CFL team.
Leave your thoughts below, and enjoy the draft. Remember my drinking rules for the draft can be found here.