Tag:Oregon Ducks
Posted on: June 24, 2010 10:46 am
 

Masoli a big name, but unworthy of a draft pick

Though he hasn't yet made it official, former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is expected to officially make himself eligible for the NFL's Supplemental Draft July 15.

Like most of the prospects who apply, however, Masoli has a very slim chance of actually getting drafted, however.

The myriad of off-field concerns Masoli brings with him is just one reason why scouts I spoke to in recent days expect that every NFL club will elect to pass on the talented, but troubled quarterback.

Masoli was suspended from the team for the entire 2010 season in March for his role in the theft of laptops and a guitar from an Oregon fraternity. He remained on scholarship and practiced with the team, though under the conditions of his agreement with head coach Chip Kelly, Masoli would not have been eligible to play for the Ducks until 2011.

Masoli got himself in further trouble in early June when he was pulled over and cited for marijuana possession and driving infractions. Two days following the citation, Masoli was offiicially kicked off the team.

Masoli's obvious character red-flags, themselves, are enough to pull him off some NFL teams' draft boards. The cold reality is, however, that Masoli's lack of height and downfield accuracy already meant that few teams would be looking at him as a quarterback. While his athleticism was enough to make him Oregon's leading rushing quarterback of all time (1,386 yards), it isn't enough to project him as a wide receiver, running back or safety, according to scouts.

Said one scout, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, "Sure he was productive for [Oregon], but where do you play him in the NFL? He might be listed by the school at 5'11, but he's closer to 5-09... And think again about just moving him to receiver. If he runs faster than the mid 4.6s, I'd be surprised."

Though Masoli and Illinois defensive tackle Joshua Brent-Price (who also hasn't yet officially been deemed eligible) have earned some late attention from teams, it seems that BYU running back Harvey Unga remains the only lock to be drafted this year.
Posted on: December 4, 2009 2:04 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2009 2:05 pm
 

Ducks Won, but Beavers' Trio Helped Stock

A day after the biggest Civil War since Robert E. Lee and the NFL draft world is still buzzing about the performances of several of the Oregon-Oregon State prospects. The ironic thing is that three of the four earning the most attention post-game from scouts came from the Beavers, who, in case you missed it, were on the losing end of the 37-33 classic for the right to represent the Pac-10 against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

Quarterback Sean Canfield was as advertised. While the Ducks' pass rush and the frenzied home crowd proved too much for his offensive line in the 4th quarter, Canfield was poised in the pocket and accurate to all levels of the field. He threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. He was particularly impressive in the closing seconds of the first half in leading OSU to a go-ahead touchdown and in the first drive of the 3rd quarter to extend the lead. His deep-out on Oregon State's 4th and 15 that ended the Beavers' last offensive possession was slightly underthrown, but a catchable ball correctly placed down and out and away from the defender.

Junior wideout James Rodgers (who was unable to come up with Canfield's 4th down pass) stole the show from his more hyped brother, super-sophomore running back Jacquizz, for much of the night. Though certainly shorter than scouts would like at an estimated 5-7, Rodgers, like his younger brother, plays with impressive strength and toughness. His vision, instincts and leaping ability helped him accumulate an eye-popping 10 catches for 139 yards and the go-ahead score seconds before halftime.

Though skill position players often generate the most attention, kudos to the ESPN broadcast crew for highlighting the dominant play inside by Beavers junior defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Paea (pronounced Pie-uh) posted an impressive statline (4.5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles), but was even more impressive than his stats would indicate. His quickness, low center of gravity and explosive upper body strength made him a consistent threat inside. He's a likely first round pick, barring injury, should he enter the draft after this season or return to Corvalis for 2010.

Tight end Ed Dickson and safety TJ Ward will be drafted higher, but running back LaGarrette Blount was the Duck who helped his stock the most last night. Earning his first playing time since being reinstated following the infamous sucker-punch against Boise State, Blount showed the relatively quick feet, straight-line speed and bullish power scouts had seen flashes of last year when he led the Pac-10 in rushing touchdowns (17) despite not starting a single game (behind senior Jeremiah Johnson). Blount will have to convince scouts that he can maintain his composure to have any chance at the NFL, but Oregon head coach Chip Kelly showed his faith in Blount by inserting him into the lineup in the 3rd quarter. Blount's entry into the game seemed to rejuventate the Ducks, who outscored the Beavers 17-3 from then on.

Posted on: October 25, 2009 2:24 pm
 

Locker struggles in loss to Ducks

Some of my draft analyst cohorts are jumping the gun a bit, I believe, in lauding Washington junior quarterback Jake Locker as the elite passing prospect in the country.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do agree with the assessment that Locker has an unmatched set of tools. He has a strong, accurate arm, has made night-and-day improvement in his reading of defenses under the tutelage of Steve Sarkisian, and is arguably the country's most dangerous mobile quarterback -- because unlike some other highly touted running passers, Locker has learned to keep his eyes downfield when preparing to run (and has the accuracy to take advantage of his vision). I argued as much in series of posts following the Washington-Notre Dame contest two weeks ago. Jimmy Clausen's Irish won the game and his poise down the stretch was impressive, but in terms of arm strength and mobility, Locker was the more impressive talent.

However, in now his third starting season for the Huskies, Locker has yet to finish a season healthy. Much of this is because Locker is surrounded by relatively little talent, especially along the offensive line. Still, if there are questions about Sam Bradford's durability with scouts, there must be similar concerns for Locker. 

And while there is no denying his potential, Locker remains unpolished, which was evident throughout the Oregon contest Saturday afternoon.

Locker's two interceptions on this day were especially telling.

On the first, with UW down 8-3 but threatening on the Oregon 2-yard line, Locker, after play-action, rolled to his right and attempted to throw the ball to one of his two tight ends (#80 Kavario Middleton and #88 Dorson Boyce). The throw, however, was in between the two of them, making it an impossible catch for either of the Huskies, but an easy interception for Oregon DB Javes Lewis.

In the third quarter, with Oregon leading 22-6, but with UW once again challenging, Locker dropped back from the Oregon 32-yard line and threw a post-corner to Devin Aguilar (#9) that was intercepted by true freshman Cliff Harris (#3). The pass was thrown into double coverage with senior safety TJ Ward supplying coverage over the top and Harris dropping back from his primary assignment (RB Chris Polk in the flat) after reading Locker's eyes.

Locker's throw was accurate, but he failed to look off the defenders, allowing Harris to get into position to make the play.

It isn't necessarily fair to judge a quarterback's day on two throws. However, with the game still in the balance, Locker made two poor decisions -- precisely why scouts are apprehensive about his readiness for the NFL.

Being based out of the greater Seattle area, I've scouted Locker as much as any one. Hell, I "scouted" his final high school game -- the 3A state championship in which he, then a senior and his Ferndale teammates beat current Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, then a junior, and Prosser.  I know Locker's game well and have seen him make huge improvements while at UW. 

If he were to leave after this season, he'll be a high draft choice. His physical tools are just too special to ignore, especially considering the questions regarding this senior class of quarterbacks. Perhaps a top ten choice, as I projected in my first 2010 mock draft .

However, if he were to return for his senior season and in doing so tighten up his mechanics, Locker could enter the year as the unquestioned #1 overall prospect.

Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:40 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2009 11:45 pm
 

Gresham, Thurmond despite injury, entering draft

Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham and Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III are not letting their season-ending knee injuries keep them from exploring their NFL options. Both, in fact, have elected to enter the 2010 draft rather than apply for a medical hardship and return to college next season, the schools announced Wednesday.

Gresham, given a first round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee, suffered a knee injury in the week prior to the Oklahoma's opener against BYU. He underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage soon thereafter and is expected to be fully recovered in time for the Combine.

A strong performance in workouts and clean medical grades from team doctors will likely keep Gresham in the first round. There is no doubt that when healthy, he is the elite tight end prospect eligible for the 2010 draft.

Thurmond's injury has received considerably less national attention. The pre-season All-American was a four-year starter and leaves Oregon with a school-record five touchdown returns for his career. A playmaking cornerback and return specialist, Thurmond had already returned each for a score this season, returning a punt for a score against Utah and an interception for a touchdown against Purdue. Thurmond was injured returning the opening kickoff this past weekend against Cal. He considered leaving Oregon early with fellow defensive backs Patrick Chung and Jairus Byrd (each of whom were selected in the 2nd round) after earning a third round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

Thurmond's injury is also much more serious than the cartilage tear suffered by Gresham. Thurmond tore the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee.

The severity of Thurmond's injury is certain to create doubt with NFL teams as to his draft status. Even with intense rehabilitation, Thurmond won't realistically be ready to workout for scouts prior to next April's draft.

When healthy, Thurmond has proven himself to be among the nation's best cover corners and worthy of Top 100 consideration. His greatest asset, however, has always been his pure athleticism.

If unable to prove this ability in pre-draft workouts, however, Thurmond is likely to slip into the late rounds or perhaps even out of the draft entirely.


Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:07 pm
 

Stafon Johnson Horror Latest Blow to '10 RB class

The horrific mishap that led to USC senior running back Stafon Johnson undergoing an emergency tracheotomy and reconstructive surgery on his throat fortunately was enough to save the young man's life. Johnson's injury, explained by Dr. Gudata Hinika, the trauma medical director at California Hospital Medical Center, likely would have killed a regular person. Only Johnson's muscular build saved and the quick reactions of the USC weight room staff and the medics at California Hospital Medical Center kept this story from being a tragic one.

"Had that been any one of us, meaning me, we would have not survived," Hinika said. "His neck was so solid, so muscular ... and the discipline that one learns from being athletic also really helped him to calm down and just do what he needed to do. He took instruction very well. All this combination and his physical fitness contributed to his outcome."
Following more than 7 hours of surgery, Johnson has stabilized and has shared in non-verbal communication with family and friends. Though his rehabilitation will keep him from playing in another game for USC, doctors believe that he can have a full recovery, keeping Johnson's dreams of playing in the NFL a realistic option.

For NFL teams needing help at running back, that assessment is a great one, as Johnson had emerged as one of the best senior backs in the country. The season-ending loss of Buffalo's James Starks to a labral tear and Oregon's LaGarratte Blount to suspension for fighting had already weakened the crop, especially for bigger backs.

Don't be surprised if there is a mass exodus of underclassmen backs this year in response to the vacuum.


Posted on: September 26, 2009 6:18 pm
 

Welcome back Ed Dickson

One of the missing elements of Oregon's offense over the first 3 games of the season had been big-play tight end Ed Dickson. The Cal Golden Bears, however, must be wishing Dickson hadn't discovered his game today, as the second-team All-Pac-10 pick has been unstoppable this afternoon, racking up 11 catches for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns with over 2 minutes still to go in the 3rd quarter.

Dickson has been used on a variety of routes, showcasing his unique blend of size (6-3, 245), strength, agility and speed. Blessed with soft hands and good vision in the open field, Dickson has caught everything thrown his direction and quickly turned upfield for positive yardage. His latest touchdown came off a screen, in which Dickson turned, caught the quick pass and read his blocks correctly to scoot free into the open field for a 36 yard score.

With his play today, Dickson certainly deserves consideration for Player of the Week honors in our fifth edition of the 2009-2010 Draft Slant, our weekly PDF on sale now .

Among the other early favorites to be included are:

Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard (Potential Player of the Week)
Cincinnati QB Tony Pike
Virginia Tech OG Sergio Render
Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon
LSU DE Rahim Alem
LSU WR Brandon LaFell (potential Player of the Week)
Cal DT Tyson Alaalu
Alabama DT Terrance Cody
Alabama OG Mike Johnson
Arkansas OG Mitch Petrus
Michigan DE Brandon Graham
 
Posted on: September 26, 2009 5:38 pm
 

Pac-10, ACC showdowns blowouts instead at half

The Virginia Tech-Miami and Oregon-Cal showdowns had been thought to be two of the best matchups of the weekend, but at this point the Hokies and Ducks have been dominant over their higher ranked opponents.

Oregon leads #6 Cal 25-3 at the half. The score is just as one-sided on the other side of the country with #11 ranked Virginia Tech leading #9 Miami 21-0.

In both cases, the home defenses have imposed their will over the visitors. The two Heisman contenders from these contests -- Cal RB Jahvid Best and Miami QB Jacory Harris -- have each been held in check. Best rushed for 55 yards over the first half, but did so on 15 attempts. Harris has been under constant pressure from the aggressive Hokie defense and is battling the elements, as well, as the driving rain pelting much of the east coast and south hasn't made an exception for Blacksburg. Harris finished the half only completing 2 of 10 passes for 48 yards. The zip and accuracy he had shown in previous contests hasn't been there thus far for Harris. He's been short and wide on numerous throws, as the combination of weather and the VT pass rush is clearly bothering him.

Barring impressive comebacks, the top 10 is going to see another significant upheaval this weekend. 

Posted on: September 4, 2009 12:35 pm
 

Blount's behavior inexcusable, undraftable

By now, most college football fans have already seen Oregon running back LaGarrette Blount's tirade after the Ducks' loss to Boise State last night. For those that haven't, I've pasted the URL for the YouTube video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtPoC8jJzRA

Once the initial shock of Blount's inexcusable behavior wears off, NFL scouts will still need to determine if his skills translate to the NFL. Blount, roughly 6-1, 250 pounds, is a questionable fit in Oregon's spread offense and struggled to find holes yesterday against the Broncos, but in an I-back formation, the power back with surprising speed could be effective and many NFL teams will consider him.

His character grade, however, took a massive hit (sorry, couldn't resist) with the cheapshot, however. So much so that when placing this latest infraction with the multitude of others that have come in the past (suspended for grades over the summer, showed up overweight, etc.), Blount may have fallen from a potential Top 50 selection all the way out of the draft with his behavior.

How he answers questions about his lack of control to scouts and the media at the Combine (asssuming he's invited) will ultimately go a long way in determining whether he's given an opportunity in the NFL. More so, in fact, than any yardage and touchdown production he might put forth this season.
 
 
 
 
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