Who will play on Sundays?
If you think about it, it’s really the ultimate compliment to the Oregon Ducks football program that they’ve won three straight Pac-12 championships without making a serious splash year after year in the NFL draft.
You can argue that the Ducks do less with more if you’d like, as programs such as Alabama, Florida and Ohio State continue to top recruiting charts, but the truth is that Oregon has had top-25 classes come in every year since 2010.
The Ducks have become a top-tier squad in college football, and while many of the players may take their games to the next level, here is a look at the top NFL prospects from the 2012 roster:
Honorable Mentions: John Boyette, Dion Jordan, Nick Cody
Kenjon Barner, RB
Kenjon Barner has played behind LaMichael James for the past three seasons, but with LaMichael James now gone to the NFL, the one-time backup should make a name for himself on a national level next season.
Having averaged 6.1 yards per carry for his career at Oregon, the 5’11”, 180-pound tail back is listed as a top-3 running back in the 2013 NFL draft by NFL.com’s Chad Reuter.
A speedy, yet physical back, Barner should have a breakout senior season.
Carson York, OL
Carson York was recently named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy Award, which is given to the best interior offensive lineman each season.
At 6’5”, 284 pounds, York was named a First-Team All-Pac 10 member in 2010 and has been a big part of the Ducks’ success in the running game in recent years.
York is a three-year starter and will be a big-time leader on offense during his 2012 senior season.
Jackson Rice, P
Punters don’t always get the attention they deserve, but Jackson Rice has made a bit of a name for himself at the University of Oregon.
The team’s prolific offense often keeps Rice off the field, but his average of 45.9 yards per kick last year would have been the best in the Pac-12 if he had kicked enough times to officially qualify.
A 2011 Ray Guy Award finalist—and early candidate for the award this season—Rice has been putting the ball where it needs to be since he debuted as a freshman in 2009.
According to NFLdraftscout.com, Rice is the No. 2 punter coming out of the 2013 class.
Arik Armstead, DL
Arik Armstead may be just a freshman, but don’t be surprised to see big things come from the big lineman early in his career.
At 6’8”, 280 pounds, the Ducks’ new defensive lineman has a body that is built for the NFL at just 18 years old.
His athleticism is more than solid for a player of his size, and 247Sports has him ranked as the overall No. 1 prospect entering college football next season (Via Sports Illustrated).
As long as he continues to add strength and hone his skills, this guy will be making a name for himself long after his college playing days are over.
De’Anthony Thomas, RB
At just 5’9”, 160 pounds, size could certainly hurt De’Anthony Thomas at the professional level, but his incredible speed and field vision will be more than enough to propel him onto an NFL roster.
Thomas is a big-play threat on seemingly every possession, and while it’s true that size could hurt his draft stock, his all-purpose style will make him a weapon in numerous situations at the next level.
Running, receiving and returning kicks are all areas of specialty when it comes to the Black Mamba.
An early candidate for the 2012 Heisman Trophy, Thomas will find himself playing on Sundays as possibly the greatest Oregon Duck to ever take the field at Autzen Stadium.