The Oregon Ducks are one of the nation’s premier football programs. Look no further than their Bowl Game track record for proof. They’ve made a championship round, in some form, in 14 of the past 15 years.
As such, sending players on to the NFL is nothing new for them. They’ve churned out professional-level talent for decades now. Their imprint will always be made on the draft.
Some years, however, are lighter than others. There will be drafts in which Oregon sends a ton of players to the NFL, including multiple first-round picks. In other instances, only a few role player-types will matriculate into the next level.
What kind of year should we expect from this season’s Oregon draft glass? The answer is hardly obvious.
Everything starts with quarterback Justin Herbert. After a few productive years with the Ducks, a span that included a stellar completion percentage and growth as a distance passer, he isn’t expected to fall outside the top seven of the first round. Most would be shocked if he gets past the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6.
Things get weird after Herbert. The Ducks do not have another consensus top 100 prospects. Someone like linebacker Troy Dye could go in the middle of Round 3 or at the beginning of Round 4, but his ceiling tops out around there.
Beyond that, the Dunks don’t have much higher-end prospects on the board.
Wide receiver Juwan Johnson, tight end Jacob Breeland, inside offensive lineman Shane Lemieux, offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton and offensive lineman Jake Hanson all have the chance to get called during the NFL draft, but not before Round 5. It will be a minor surprise if anyone else from Oregon ends up landing on a team without doing so as an undrafted rookie.
The dearth of talent the Ducks are sending on the defensive end is to blame. That side of the ball is populated largely by underclassmen who won’t declare or older prospects who just don’t project to stick in the NFL. Their crop of offensive linemen is their biggest draw after Herbert.
Which isn’t to say this will necessarily be a lean year for the Ducks. Herbert alone has franchise-cornerstone talent. Those prospects don’t grow on trees. So in lieu of sending a bunch of players to the NFL this year, they’ll at least be sending one of the best, most promising options in the country.