Oregon Ducks Top NFL Prospects for 2012 and Beyond


With the offseason in full swing, and the draft already over, I figure it’s not too early to look ahead. The Oregon Ducks are one of the best college football programs in the country, so do they have the NFL talent to back it up?

I ventured over to “Addicted to Quack” to find out who their fans thought were some of the best NFL prospects. User JShufelt offered up a list of players that could be on NFL radars next year. I will post his comments along with some comments of my own.

Cliff Harris* CB
Harris is possibly the best cover corner in college. He’s athletic, a ball hawk, has great instincts and was the nations best returner last year with 4 TDs. I would expect him to leave before his senior year, and be a first round pick. He’s a bit short, but he has a huge vertical leap. His downsides are his size and tackling. 1st round.

Agree here on Harris. The underclassman could be primed for a huge season after stepping into the spotlight last year during Oregon’s incredible run. He is a big time playmaker, and can help a team similar to the way Patrick Peterson will for the Arizona Cardinals with his returning skills and excellent coverage ability.

Dave Paulson TE
Oregon has a great pedigree of sending TEs to the NFL. Paulson has been one of the most key players at Oregon the last couple of years. He doesn’t pull in a ton of catches, but when he does, it’s that 3rd and long conversion. He has knack for making his receptions either first downs or touchdowns. He’s one of the better receivers I’ve seen while in traffic. He’s rated as one of the best TEs in the draft (I’ve seen between 2nd and 4th best TE in the draft).

Big play tight end prospect could really emerge as a top tier guy this year. In 2011, the tight end crop was weak, so hopefully Paulson can lead a group in 2012 that will be one of the stronger areas of the draft. Every team needs a guy who can make a clutch reception on third down, and this guy could be the man for the job.

Eddie Pleasant Rover (SS/LB)
He’s one of the fastest players on the team (Not just defense, but the team). He spent his first years at the Sam LB, but he got moved over to Strong Safety last year. He’s a good tackler, and brings a lot of momentum. He’s 5’-10″ ish, and probably will get looked over a bit. Mid-Late round pick.

I love guys who play like this. Not the biggest player on the team, but darn it, he is going to out work everyone else and get on to the field and make plays, and could change a game on special teams. There is and will always be a place in the NFL for players like this.

Brandon Williams TE
He’s a physical freak, but he spent most of ‘10 on the sidelines with an injury. He is also behind (though will share time) with Paulson. He has a very high potential, and if he stays healthy, I’d expect him to be a late round-to-UFA target, without any crazy breakout season.

If he can come back from injury, he could be a solid look in the later rounds or UFA like the author states, but right now, I don’t know enough about him. I will keep a close eye on him as the season progresses.

LaMichael James*
If James finishes up his degree this year, I’d expect him to go. He’s one of the most explosive players on college. He’s small, but able to perform herculean runs, he’s mystifyingly quick, and he has track-star speed. His height, the NFL’s anti-spread bias (Despite recent success from Jonathan Stewart and LeGarrett Blount), and the more pass-happy nature of today’s pro game, will probably keep him from being a top 15 picks (If he declares for the draft early).

Ah yes, saving the best for last, I see. James has drawn comparisons to Warrick Dunn, and I see no reason why he can’t have that type of impact in the NFL. He isn’t a big runner, but he is definitely a ball of fire and can score from anywhere on the field. I expect him to be in the first round discussion all season long, provided he stays healthy.

*Junior Classman

5 Darron Thomas, Quarterback/Athlete, 6’3″ 215  Junior

Thomas is a great athlete with solid size, but he looks a little lanky for his listed measurables. He is slightly fragile because of that lack of overall muscle build, so it will be interesting to see if he decides to add 10-15 pounds of muscle in the offseason as his frame will allow it without him losing speed or quickness. Quick release on the ball and is pretty accurate, but that is certainly an area of his game he should look to develop as he is completing only about 61 percent of his passes over the last two years. Strong arm and can make any throw, and obviously a dual-threat guy who can make plays with his legs when called upon. It will be interesting to see if he can play wide receiver and/or return some kicks/punts in the NFL with his speed and playmaking ability. 42 touchdowns compared to only 14 interceptions over the last two seasons as of 11/19/11. Makes good decisions with the football, got a great personality and a lot of swagger/confidence. Leader of the offense and productive really early in his career.

Again, a big thanks to JShufelt for doing this, and this is just another reason to be excited for the 2011 college football season, as well as the 2012 NFL Draft! Let the countdown begin…