How Will They Fare?
As our Ducks blogger Crazy Quacker pointed out about a week ago after it was announced that Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly was going to make the leap to the NFL and take over as head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he decided he would stay where his heart his, in Oregon.
Not all his troops had the same idea however.
Here’s a recap of the main players bolting for the money and PRO football. (Not that that’s a bad thing)
LaMichael James -RB
LaMichael James is the highest profile player that declared for the draft from Oregon and he really had nothing else to prove in the college game. Even though he was 2nd in the Heisman a couple seasons back and led the nation in rushing yards per game this last season he is projected to go anywhere from the 3rd round to the 6th round.
Yeah, he rushed for a ton of yards, but he is not a big back and has injury concerns.
On top of that he is not a big pass catching threat coming out of the backfield like another small back in Darren Sproles of the Saints.
I think James will be a good pro, but he has to find the right team. He is not going to be a RB that will carry the workload out of the backfield and he will shine if he joins a team that already has a legit back.
If he can bulk up a tad and really improve his pass-catching skills I think he will be a draft steal.
Darron Thomas – QB
While it was no surprise that James declared for the draft it is that Darron Thomas did. In draft circles Thomas’ decision to leave the Ducks was questioned and from what I have been reading he may be a 5th to 7th round draft pick, but many have said he will not be drafted at all.
Yeah, he was under center for Oregon and their dynamic offense, but that is mostly about the run.
This season Oregon ranked 5th in the nation in rushing yards per game while they only ranked 68th in passing yards per game. Thomas had a solid season passing for 2,761 yards with 33 TD and 7 INT, but he only passed for over 300 yards in 1 game and most opposing defenses were more worried about James and the RB’s killing them than Thomas.
I think Thomas will get drafted, but I see him being a project. He can run the ball, which is a great intangible, but I do not see him ever being a solid starting QB in the NFL.
Cliff Harris – DB
It was no surprise that 2010 All American Cliff Harris declared for the NFL draft after Oregon head coach Chip Kelly dismissed him from the team in December for his behavior.
The final straw was his citation for ‘possession of a controlled substance. If 2011 was anything like his 2010 season where he tied the, then, Pac 10 record for punt returns for TD (4) and had 6 IN THE would be a lock to be a high draft pick.
I have read some reports that Harris may be as high as a 4th round pick.
Problem is he not only has issues off the field, but he is a little undersized at 5″11″ and 168 pounds.
Yes I agree with the Ducks faithful however, he is a lock down CB that is electrifying in the kick return game and I think if he can stay on the straight and narrow he will be a good pro.
NFL Combine Invites
The initial invite list for the NFL Scouting Combine Feb. 22-28 in Indianapolis, Indiana, has been released.
Oregon has four others on the list: Tight end David Paulson, linebacker Josh Kaddu, Guard Mark Asper and safety Eddie Pleasant.