From Autzen to Greatness
Coming off a season that saw the Oregon Ducks win their second straight BCS Bowl contest, you’d expect the program to churn out quite a few ‘draftable’ players. So was the case this year, as five former Ducks were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, making this squad of talented athletes the most to be selected in an NFL Draft from Oregon in four years.
Aside from those Ducks who were drafted, Isaac Remington and Michael Clay also took the next step in their careers, signing free agent contracts with the teams that they will hope to break camp with.
Here’s where each former Oregon standout went and what you can expect to see from them at the next level.
Dion Jordan – Miami Dolphins – 3rd overall
Heading into Thursday, many knew Jordan was going to be a top-ten pick. With a few analysts anticipating his selection to come around the fifth-sixth pick, Jordan eventually heard his name called by the Miami Dolphins with the third pick in the NFL Draft. Trading up to select the talented, hybrid defensive end/linebacker, the Dolphins clearly had their eyes set on the Oregon defensive standout for quite some time.
Originally coming to the Ducks as a tight end, Jordan was quickly moved to the defensive side of the ball where he flourished at Oregon’s hybrid DE/OLB slot. A physical beast, he brings one of the longest and strongest frames of the entire 2013 NFL draft class and can explode to the ball right off the snap. Though he was hampered by a shoulder injury during his final season at Oregon, Jordan has reportedly fully healed and will be ready to be the next great Oregon defensive lineman at the next level.
Look for him to break camp with more mass, muscle, and as a starter. His ability to close the perimeter as well as drop back into coverage will be more than valuable for the Dolphins.
Kyle Long – Chicago Bears – 20th overall
This pick surprised me a bit. While I thought Long would be a great pickup in the second-third round, the Chicago Bears obviously saw a lot of potential in the one-year Oregon player, drafting him with the 20th overall pick.
Boasting a strong, athletic frame and quite the NFL-bloodline (he is the son of Howie Long and brother of Chris Long), Kyle is apparently the most physically gifted of all his family and has the potential to continue building into a dominant offensive lineman. Though he did have his troubles before heading to Oregon last season, he has apparently shaken off his doubters and proved to the Bears that his problems are behind him and he is ready to start something new.
Like Jordan, don’t be surprised if you see Long starting for the Bears next year after adding a little more bulk and developing his blocking skills a little more.
Kiko Alonso – Buffalo Bills – 46th overall
The Buffalo Bills are quite the lucky team to have snagged Alonso with the 46th pick overall. Another athlete who can cover the entire field and deliver quite the hit, Alonso has moved on from his off-field issues and become one of the more intelligent linebackers you will see.
Flourishing in his role as an ILB at Oregon, Alonso commanded the field and was great at just about everything he did.
Aside from disrupting the line and firing into the backfield, Alonso also demonstrated the ability to cover receivers and stick with them in coverage.
Look for him to play a backup role for the Bears but see plenty of time on the field next year.
Kenjon Barner – Carolina Panthers – 182nd overall
I was surprised to see Barner drop as far as he did, but I guess running backs in general didn’t have a great draft. That being said, however, the Panthers picked up quite the player on Sunday. Selected with the 182nd pick, Barner will now join former UO great Jonathan Stewart at Carolina and attempt to showcase his speed and ability to get to open space.
Only spending one season as the starter at Oregon, Barner quickly showcased why he should be considered one of the top backs in the land. He rushed 278 times for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns in his final year at Oregon and will be a valuable asset for the Panthers should they choose to give him the opportunity to play this season.
A running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, look for Barner to impress during preseason games and potentially see time on the field should the other Carolina backs need relief.
John Boyett – Indianapolis Colts – 192nd overall
Boyett was one of those players who you knew would be where the ball was. The definition of a ball hawk, Boyett was unfortunately sidelined after just one game in his senior season, as he required surgery on his knee to repair a lingering injury. Despite his injury concerns, however, Boyett is one of the strongest and most athletically gifted free safeties you could hope for.
Had he not been injured during his senior season he may have been a second or third round pick. Look for him to emerge from camp as a top defender and see backup playing time this season.
Undrafted Free Agents
Michael Clay and Isaac Remington were each picked up after the draft was over by the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. Both defensive standouts at Oregon, they may each have the chance to break camp should they demonstrate the kind of smart players they truly are.
With Clay reuniting with Jordan and former linebacker Josh Kadu, he may very well come out of camp with the Dolphins and see himself get a good showing in preseason action. Though Remington will have a tougher time breaking camp than Clay, he should be assisted by Jerry Azzinaro and Chip Kelly, both of who he played for at Oregon.