With the Tennessee Titans drafting everyone’s favorite Hawaiian quarterback, many Ducks’ fans were disappointed that Chip Kelly didn’t succeed in trading up for Marcus Mariota. Some are simply annoyed they didn’t get their favorite player and coach on the same...
With the NFL Draft Combine just days away, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock chatted with reporters during a conference call about the quality of the draft as a whole, can’t miss prospects, Pac-12 players and even a few former Oregon Ducks.
First off, Mayock holds this draft class in extremely high regard.
“This is the deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in 10 years. One general manager told me having a top 20 pick this year is similar to having a top 10 pick last year,” Mayock said.
He believes the top 10 is oozing with talent and three quarterbacks and three offensive tackles could be drafted in the top 10, leaving room for teams with mid-first round picks to snatch up some of the uber-talented skill and defensive players.
Mayock is especially smitten with the wide receiver crop. He raved about former Clemson Tigers Sammy Watkins rare size, speed and hands.
“Watkins is a special player,” he said. I don’t usually get excited about wide receivers in the top ten, but this guy is different,” he said.
He also really likes Jarvis Laundry, commenting that his toughness is comparable to Hines Ward. Additionally, he said Mike Evans size and leaping ability are uncanny and that the New York Jets, “can’t go wrong with selecting Marqise Lee,” with their first round pick.
“I’m interested to see Lee’s 40 time,” he added.
However, though he remarks that there are five teams in the top eight with significant quarterback needs, he isn’t completely confident about this year’s QB crop.
‘The more time I watch these guys, the more questions I have. I can pick apart these guys. I could not pick apart Andrew Luck,” Mayock said.
Though he isn’t sold on any quarterback, he thinks that Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles are clearly the top three QB prospects.
He believes Manziel must make better reads in the pocket to have success at the next level, but he has high hopes for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.
“He reminds me of a combination between Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie. With his arm strength, athletic ability and drive to succeed, he’s a top 10 pick and maybe a top five pick,” Mayock said.
He also likes Bridgewater’s ability to move around and outside of the pocket with the goal of finding an open receiver instead of tucking and running.
As far as Chip Kelly’s Eagles are concerned, Mayock thinks they leave a lot to be desired in terms of defensive talent.
“The Eagles defensive coordinator and staff did a phenomenal job last year. They went from a below average defense to a playoff level defense throughout the season without much talent. They need people everywhere, especially on the back end. They need a safety or two and a corner or two,” Mayock said.
However, he thinks the Eagles should select a defensive end to complement Trent Cole in the first round.
(Anthony) “Barr will be off the board before the Eagles pick, but Dee Ford from Auburn is an edge rush guy who is comparable to (Seattle Seahawks DE) Bruce Irvin,” Mayock said.
Under the rushing the passer/outside linebacker mold, Ford recorded 10.5 sacks and 29 tackles last season, but it was his performance in the Senior Bowl that really vaulted his draft position. Ford received MVP honors after accumulating two sacks. He is listed as the third best DE in this draft class according to Mayock.
The Oregon Ducks have a few players who are likely to hear their name called in April. But it is the guy who left the team in the middle of the season, TE Colt Lyerla, that Mayock is most enamored with.
In fact, Mayock named Lyerla as one of the most intriguing players in the draft and called him a “first round talent.”
“I’m interested to see how he reacts to people. I watched a little tape of him, he’s a gifted, gifted kid but has a lot of off the field issues,” he said.
Additionally, In Mayock’s eyes, former UO RB De’Anthony Thomas is a fourth round pick.
He commented on a number of Thomas’ fellow former Pac-12 players as well.
“Oh my god does Austin Seferian-Jenkins have a great throwing radius, but is he gonna run a 4.7 or not,” Mayock wonders. He is built like Gronkowski,” he added.
Seferian-Jenkins is slotted as the number two tight-end on Mayock’s positional rankings.
Former Washington Husky teammate Bishop Sankey has the potential to make an impact in the NFL according to Mayock, if he proves to posses one particular skill.
“He can be a lot like (Cincinnati Bengals RB)Giovanni Bernard if he can catch the football,” he said. According to Mayock, if Sankey can prove to be sure-handed at the combine, he could be a second round pick.
Mayock has Sankey ranked third on his list of best running backs in this draft class.
Though he doesn’t have any Ducks cracking the first round, he believes one Oregon State Beaver could do just that.
“OSU’s Scott Crichton is a good fit for Denver with the 31st pick. He’s a poor mans Chris Long,” Mayock said. Crichton is the third ranked DE on Mayock’s positional big board and had 7.5 sacks for OSU last season.
He also mentioned Colorado WR Paul Richardson.
He said that Paul Richardson will likely go in the third round and that the Ravens could be a possible suitor.
He added that he likes WSU S Deone Bucannon and Stanford S Ed Reynolds.
Mayock has Bucannon slated as the fifth best safety in the draft.
Finally, Mayock believes former Stanford DE Trent Murphy, “is a poor man’s Mike Vrabel.”
Murphy is the number five DE in the draft according to Mayock.
Though Mayock didn’t mention them, other Ducks to receive a combine invite include: Taylor Hart, Josh Huff, Terrance Mitchell and Boseko Lokombo.
For these guys and other NFL Draft hopefuls, performance at the combine can decide the difference between millions of dollars and a foot in the door toward making an NFL roster or free agency status.
The combine schedule is as follows:
Saturday, Feb. 22: Placekickers, special teams, offensive linemen, tight ends
Sunday, Feb. 23: Quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs
Monday, Feb. 24: Defensive linemen, linebackers
Tuesday, Feb. 25: Defensive backs
The EDN sports team makes their picks for the final week of the Pac-12 season.
Season Pick’em Standings:
Isaac Rosenthal: 62-17
Corey Buchanan: 61-18
Ryan Beltram: 59-20
The second most heated rivalry game in the Northwest should be relatively interesting this year. Both teams moved the ball up and down the field with ease last week against their opponent. But while Washington State QB Conor Halliday threw for nearly 500 yards,the Huskies had their second greatest rushing performance in team history, wracking up an eye popping 530 yards and 7 TD’s.
If WSU wants to tie its longest winning streak in the Apple Cup since 1982(2 games), they will have to force turnovers. This is because I don’t see the 77th ranked rush defense stopping Bishop Sankey and the Huskies explosive rush attack. But it’s going to be tough as they rank 101 in the nation in turnover margin. The Huskies rank a modest 39th in the nation.
Corey: Washington Isaac: Washington Ryan: Washington
Oregon State(6-5,4-4) vs. Oregon(9-2, 6-2) 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1
The 117th Civil War may not have the hype as some of the last few, but it could be an interesting matchup between two teams coming off of embarrassingly atrocious losses. Not only did OSU play ole defense against the Huskies, but Sean Mannion continued to play below his high early season level. Mannion threw three picks and completed less than 50% of his passes during the drubbing.
X-factor: Motivation If both team’s are motivated mostly by awards, accolades and positioning than this games should be uninspired. However, if they are motivated by self and team pride, than we should have a physical and well played game for our viewing pleasure. From the hokey name to the its relative meaninglessness, this game feels oddly like a bowl game. And like most bowl games, whichever team plays more inspired football has a great chance at getting the win….even the Beavers.
Corey: Oregon Isaac: Oregon Ryan: Oregon
Colorado(4-7,1-7) vs. Utah(4-7,1-7), 11 a.m., Pac-12 Network
Hats off to the dedicated college football fans outside of Colorado and Utah who sit down for this one. This game should be hard on the eyes and the sleep schedule.Throughout the season Utah has been proclaimed underrated. But after last week’s loss to Wazzu, they may be so underrated they’re overrated. The Buffaloes have oddly not played in a close game this year. I think that will change this week.
X-factor: Sacks and Interceptions
Everyone who has watched Utah knows it can rush the passer. The team is second in the nation with 36 sacks on the year. But oppositely, the Utes are second to last in the nation in interceptions, only catching two this year. The Buffaloes have 20 less sacks and 7 more interceptions than the Utes. The winner will have the most points in a completely arbitrary made-up game where sacks are worth one point and interceptions are worth two.
Corey: Utah Isaac: Colorado Ryan: Utah
No. 25 Notre Dame(8-3) vs. No. 8 Stanford(9-2,7-2), 4 p.m., FOX
Notre Dame and the seemingly Van Wilder-esque Tommy Reese are not talked about as much as most Notre Dame squads. Though not great at anything, this team is one of the more balanced in the nation and they have solid wins over Arizona State, USC and Michigan State. Stanford is sitting pretty headed to an inevitable Pac-12 title game after it steamrolled California behind WR Ty Montgomery’s five touchdown performance.
Both teams success hinge’s on their starting quarterback’s ability to control the offense, make a few big plays and not turn the ball over. In the Fighting Irish’s three losses, Rees has 7 interceptions. In Stanford’s two losses, Hogan is averaging 186.5 ypg and 1.5 turnovers. The team with the struggling QB will be hard pressed to win this game.
Corey: Notre Dame Isaac: Stanford Ryan: Stanford
No. 22 UCLA(8-3,5-3) vs. No. 23 USC(9-3,6-2), 5 p.m., ABC
This game doesn’t have nearly as must luster as if UCLA had comeback against Arizona State, but it is still a rivalry game between ranked teams. Plus, UCLA WR Shaq Evans will finally have the chance to back up his declaration that UCLA would embarrass the Trojans.
X-factor: Anthony Barr vs. USC Defensive line
UCLA LB Anthony Barr may be the first name called by Roger Goodell in the NFL Draft for his ability to rush the passer, but USC is the team with the collectively superior pass rush. The Trojans have compiled 10 more sacks on the season than the Bruins. But if Barr can rock USC QB Cody Kessler’s world like he did Matt Barkley’s last year, UCLA should get the victory.
Corey: UCLA Isaac: USC Ryan: USC
Arizona(7-4,4-4) vs. Arizona State(9-2,7-1), 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
After demoralizing the Ducks like no other team since 2008, Arizona will face the Pac-12 South champions and inner-state rival Arizona State. But the Wildcats aren’t the only team in this matchup likely brimming with confidence. The Sun Devils dismantled all Pac-12 foes this year besides Stanford and will be hosting the Pac-12 title game against the Cardinal… that is if they win this game.
Ka’Deem Carey is an absolute beast and will punish you whenever he gets the chance. You can’t help but feel bad for the Duck defense, especially the linebackers, who had to tackle the guy 48 times. This week he will face the no. 2 ranked rush defense in the Pac-12. The unit held the most comparative back to Carey, Washington’s Sankey, to only 22 yards on the ground. However, they allowed 250 rushing yards to USC and Wisconsin speedster Melvin Gordon almost broke the 200 yard mark against the Devils. How well ASU can bottle up Carey will determine the outcome of this game.
Corey: Arizona Isaac: Arizona Ryan: Arizona State
The Oregon Ducks defeated the Washington Huskies 45-24 at Husky Field in front of a ruckus crowd in Seattle, Washington. Though the score was close at times through three quarters, the Ducks pulled away in the fourth. Oregon’s offense just wouldn’t let up, accumulating 631 yards including 366 through the air. The Ducks have now completed a decade of supremacy over their rivals to the north.
“To go into a hostile environment, make some adjustments and execute the adjustments. It’s a sign of a mature team,” Oregon Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich said.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota added, “I just told our guys, relax we’ll be fine. Take it one play at a time and we’ll be successful.”
Mariota delivered another jaw-dropping performance, throwing darts with precision all around the field. He finished the game with 466 total yards including 97 on the ground and four total touchdowns. Bralon Addison also continued his outstanding play on his birthday. The explosive receiver tallied 157 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Running back Byron Marshall added his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season, running for 106 yards on 19 carries.
[gn_quote style=”1″]“This is actually the first time I’ve ever playing football on my birthday. To get a team win, it was great,” said Addison.[/gn_quote]
The game started out a little wacky to say the least. And Keanon Lowe’s drop of a would-be easy touchdown catch was only the beginning of the madness. On the Ducks’ first touchdown drive, the referee’s reviewed three plays in a row. First, the refs ruled a touchback on a Josh Huff fumble just outside the end zone. But after review, the fumble was overturned and the ball was placed at the 1-yard line. Then, a Mariota touchdown run was reversed and once again placed at the one-yard line. Finally, the referee’s got it right the first time after legitimizing a Marshall touchdown run after another stint in the booth.
The Huskies retort was a successful one, scoring a touchdown via a reception in the end zone by tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The first quarter ended 7-7 and remarkably ended in a 115-115 tie in yards gained. However, the second quarter was won handily by Oregon. Addison scored a pivotal four-yard touchdown and Marshall added another touchdown, this time from 15-yards out. The Ducks out-gained the Huskies 166-46 in quarter two.
Unfortunately, Huff suffered an injury to his lower right leg on a WR screen and was forced to visit the Huskies health facility. But, the Ducks were able to contain both quarterback Keith Price (80 passing yards) and running back Bishop Sankey (54 yards) in the first half. The Ducks led 21-7 at the break
But Sankey broke free in a big way in quarter three. The star running back scored on a 60-yard run and a 25-yard run. Oregon Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti commented on Sankey’s breakout quarter.
“People don’t want to hear this but sometimes player A is better than player B in space, and that goes for our guys as well,” Aliotti said. Sankey finished the game with 174 yards on the ground.
On the other side, Huff played through his injury and remarkably caught a 65-yard touchdown pass. The two squads also exchanged field goals in the third quarter.
“I was told to sit out the second half, but I wasn’t having it. I wanted to be in this game and compete with my teammates,” Huff said.
Despite the injury, Huff surpassed the 100-yard mark for the fourth time this season. The receiver had four catches for 106 yards on the night.
In the fourth quarter, Mariota scored his first touchdown run of the game on a 5-yard QB draw to the right side of the field. The run solidified the continuation of his career long streak (19 games) of both running and throwing for at least one touchdown in a game. Later, he through another touchdown pass to Addison from three yards out.
In the end, although the Huskies put forth a valiant effort, it just wasn’t enough. Oregon’s defense was able to contain the dynamic Husky offense for most of the game. Oregon only allowed 376 yards of total offense, forced two turnovers and sacked Price four times.
Addison attributed the Ducks success to preparation and a lack of satisfaction from Helfrich and the UO coaching staff. Allioti gave the UO defense a C + grade. Helfrich added that the team could still improve its execution.
“He doesn’t let us feel complacent, feel like we’ve arrived,” Addison said of Helfrich.
It’s hard to imagine an even better Ducks team.