Graduating Ducks – Who’s Going To The NFL?

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Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur/CC0

We’re over a month into the NCAA season, and with the next NFL draft half a year away, it’s the perfect time to pay attention to the Oregon senior Ducks with the best chances of entering the NFL. We’ll also go over the 2019 Duck draftees and which rosters they’ve ended up on.

Justin Herbert

Ducks’ QB Justin Herbert is among the most sought-after names in the NFL‌ draft, and it seems very likely he’ll seek a career in pro football.

In fact, Herbert already has an implicit experience with NFL drafts considering he was touted to be a first pick for the 2019 draft.

Ultimately, however, the Ducks’ QB decided to pass on the opportunity to go pro and finished his last year in college instead.

This was a surprising move for many; for Herbert, staying one more year home was preferable to joining the highest ranks of football.

“You can’t get another year of college football like that. As soon as you go to the NFL, it’s a business. I was fortunate enough to realize that, and I think I made the right decision,” he said for USA Today.

In 2018 Herbert was closely followed by New York Giants scouts, though this year he seems to have likely piqued the interest of the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Chris Grier (general manager of the Fins) and Kevin Colbert (holding the same position at the Steelers) were among the spectators that personally witnessed Oregon’s crushing defeat of Stanford.

The game saw Justin rise to fourth place in passing yards in the Ducks’ all-time rankings.

Pundits point to Herbert as one of the favorites to be a number one pick for the 2020 draft, though he’s facing serious competition in the face of Louisiana State’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.

Calvin Throckmorton

Offensive lineman Throckmorton had to prove his versatility once again during the Stanford face-off when he started at center in place of injured Jake Hanson.

This was the second time that Calvin started a game at the center position (and the second time this season), although Throckmorton is all too well familiar with filling different shoes on the field.

An April article in University of Oregon’s quarterly issue Around the O reminded readers that Throckmorton “started all 34 games over the last three years [at the time of writing], at four different positions.”

With such a varied experience behind his back, Calvin will no doubt appeal to many teams, should he choose to pursue football over his plans to attend medical school.

Jake Hanson &‌ Company

Jake Hanson was one of the three Ducks to appear in the first round of CBS’ Chris Trapasso’s mock draft released on Sept 16.

Two days later, in his 2020 mock draft, fellow CBS sports writer Ryan Wilson placed Justin Herbert as the #1 pick and the only Duck in the first round.

Placed as the last pick, Trapasso projects Hanson being selected by the LA Rams, a team that stands the third-best chance of winning this year’s Super Bowl, according to Oddschecker.

As previously mentioned, Hanson didn’t play at the last game against Stanford due to an unspecified injury; and we’ve heard no more news about Hanson since coach Cristobal briefly stated before the last game that the player is “under evaluation.”

Dallas Warmack, Jacob Breeland, Juwan Johnson, La’Mar Winston, Shane Lemieux, and Troy Dye complete the list of Ducks expected to make it to next year’s draft.

How did the Ducks Fare in the 2019 Draft?

Photo by QuinceMedia/License

This year’s draft saw four Ducks appearing on the list, with none of them appearing in the first rounds.

The first Oregon pick was 2018 Lombardi Award-winner Ugo Amadi, who went to the Seattle Hawks in the fourth round (132th overall). The rookie safety earned the trust of coach Carroll for a place on the roster and has been clocking in minutes on the special teams, having made three tackles so far. Following the preseason’s end, seahawks.com quoted Pete Carroll saying that Amadi “has been a really exciting player for us.”

In the fifth round (156th overall) Justin Hollins headed to the Denver Broncos; he found a place among the 53 roster players as a linebacker. So far, Hollins has made one tackle. At the beginning of September, The Denver Post noted the high expectations that the Broncos place on Hollins, expecting him to fill double-duty as an “outside linebacker in the base defense and inside linebacker in sub-packages.” Hollins responded that he’s up to the challenge, with coach Fangio noting the player’s “progress” in adapting to his varying placements.

Dillon Mitchell was a pick for the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round (239th overall). Mitchell was among the two Minnesota rookies who didn’t make the roster cut, and he was signed to the practice squad, where he plays as a wide receiver.

Jalen Jelks was also picked in the seventh round (241th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys. There were many speculations during the pre-season and prior to the final cuts about whether Jelks would find a spot on the roster considering the tough competition for the defensive end positions. Ultimately Jelks was placed on the injured reserve list.

Free-agents Tony-Brooks James and Kano Dillon headed to the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Redskins, respectively. In the end, James went to Tampa Bay’s practice squad, while Dillan was waived by the Redskins due to a non-football injury.

Photo by Lucas Andrade/CC0

All in all, expectations are that the 2020 NFL draft will be a better success for the Ducks. With the Ducks having nine players prospected to enter the draft—some in the first round and one contending for the first pick—next year might match the team’s 2015 achievement of having five players picked by NFL teams.

As for this year’s picks, some are already making names for themselves, while for the rest nothing is lost. Not making it to the active roster is undoubtedly a disappointment, but these players still have a chance to impress and earn a spot on the coveted 53-player list. As the saying goes, “time will tell”. We hope to see more Ducks extending their talents to the top pro football league.

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