Former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning hopes to continue his national championship-winning path in Eugene, Oregon. He’s joined by Auburn’s three-year starting quarterback, Bo Nix. Not only is there a new staff and a signal caller, but, as in any other year, there is rotation throughout the list. However, there are several Oregon 2023 NFL Draft prospects of getting into the college football season.
Oregon Prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
Kayvon Thibodeaux (fifth overall) was Oregon’s only player drafted in the 2022 class, the fewest since 2011. Before that, they were on a three-year streak of having more than four players selected in the draft. Will they bounce back in the 2023 NFL Draft or will the Ducks suffer another slump?
Bo Nix, quarterback
Bo Nix has been a polarizing figure since winning the SEC freshman of the year award over Derek Stingley Jr. in 2019. In three seasons, he has yet to complete more than 62 percent of his passes or throw more than 16 touchdowns and 2600 yards. In addition, his highest yards per attempt came in 2021 with only 7.1.
Now, it’s not like the talent isn’t there. Nix is a legitimate threat on the ground and has the arm talent to make impressive throws. A new home could unlock his potential, but with his former Auburn offensive coordinator joining him in Oregon, I have my reserves for his 2022 campaign.
Be dollars, RB
After a knee injury robbed Sean Dollars of the entire 2021 season, he put his name on the transfer portal. But the grass isn’t always greener, and he decided to return with the Ducks. The former four-star recruit has only carried the ball 15 times in his Oregon career, but he did it for 128 yards. We just haven’t seen enough of dollars to put him in a draft rank. Now that Travis Dye is a USC Trojan, Dollars should receive a significant workload to prove itself.
Chase Cota and Isaiah Crocker, WR
Oregon will have some sophomores at the helm in the reception room. However, fourth-year wide receiver Isaiah Crocker and UCLA transfer Chase Cota appear to be key contributors. Crocker may be one of the most veterans in the WR room, but he lacks experience. He joined Oregon as a four-star recruit in 2018, his only real playing time was in the final two contests last season. He recorded six receptions for 91 yards in those games, but that’s where his career largely begins and ends. Despite the rotation at the position, Crocker may struggle to see significant repetitions once again in 2022.
On the other hand, Cota joins the fray as a veteran with safe hands. While you may not add much in the open field or after the catch, Cota moves the chains. In 67 receptions in his career, he scored six touchdowns and won 34 first attempts. Still, Cota will presumably play a deep role in Eugene, limiting his chances of increasing his already meager draft stock.
Spencer Webb and Cam McCormick, TE
Oregon’s new offense will reportedly feature more vertical pass concepts for the tight end position. That means more to the WR sophomore turned TE Terrance Ferguson than to anyone else. However, two of the group’s veterans, Spencer Webb and Cam McCormick, could also play a role. Both players have been on campus for over four years and have dealt with multiple serious injuries.
McCormick’s uphill battle is much steeper, as he hasn’t caught multiple passes in a season since 2017 (six). But Webb has shown flashes as a 6’6″ receiving threat. Time will tell if anyone has enough left in the tank to win any NFL consideration.
Steven Jones, OT
The Ducks have one of the best and most experienced offensive lines returning in 2022. Steven Jones spent his first three seasons as a left tackle before starting as a right tackle and guard last year. That cross-training is valuable, and its 6’5″ and the 330-pound frame has impressive strength. Sometimes he plays too upright, but new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm should help him refine his game.
Bass TJ, sun
The interior is where the strength of this offensive line really resides. TJ Bass leads the unit, providing consistent play wherever it aligns. Last year, he dominated from the left guard position before moving to the left tackle to accommodate an injury-plagued front. Bass is a mauler in the ground game and is not far behind in pass protection. Since he already received attention last cycle, another stellar year will only propel Bass to the draft charts.
Alex Forsyth, C.
Another Oregon lineman who avoided the 2022 NFL Draft in favor of one more season at PNW is Alex Forsyth. The thoughtful pivot driver has allowed less than a dozen pressures over the past two years, despite dealing with a persistent back injury in 2021. At 6’3″ and 300 pounds, Forsyth isn’t exactly a physical specimen. Anyway, it is a consistent and intelligent center that will play a role near the top of the core class of 2023.
Ryan Walk, G.
Ryan Walk returns for his fifth season as Duck after his 2021 campaign was interrupted by a knee injury. He has already shown coveted versatility with openings as a right guard, left guard and centre to his credit. He can fight power at 6’3″ and 293 pounds, but Walk keeps his head in a turn and works to use his natural lever.
Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, OT
Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu declared herself for the 2022 draft, but ultimately opted out. The former JUCO prospect qualified as No. 1 is a certified people carrier. He has no problem using his 6’6″ and 315-pound frame to manipulate defenders against their will. But great power comes with great responsibility, as Aumavae-Laulu was penalized eight times in 2021. Although he didn’t allow a catch last year, Oregon’s OT can clean up his pass-blocking technique. Nonetheless, physical ability is there to earn NFL recognition.
Brandon Douglas, DL
When you think of Oregon’s seven fronts for 2021, your mind turns to Kayvon Thibodeaux, Noah Sewell, and Justin Flowe (for a game). But the forgotten Brandon Dorlus deserves recognition. His 6’3″ and 285-pound build, along with his excellent lower body movement skills, have allowed him to play everywhere on the defensive line. Now that Thibodeaux is a New York Giant, the Ducks will rely heavily on Dorlus to generate pressure up front. Don’t fall asleep with him in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Keyon Ware-Hudson, DT
A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Keyon Ware-Hudson remained patient until he finally set foot in the injured list rotation last season. He has his limitations as a quarterback hunter, but uses his natural leverage (6’2″ and 288 pounds) to fend off the run. Ware-Hudson has untapped potential, and could possibly explode in 2022.
Popo Aumavae, DT
Dorlus and Noah Sewell are the best marshal hunters returning from Oregon, but Popo Aumavae is not far behind. The big man in the middle is also a solid career defender, closing gaps from his nose tackle lineup. His presence makes life easier for those around him, but he becomes his all the same. The All-Pac-12 first-team defender is looking to increase his draft stock in 2022.
Sam Taimani, DT
Sam Taimani transferred from Washington after a decent campaign in 2021. The 6’2″ 330-pound defensive tackle fills in the gaps with ease, but like Ware-Hudson, he’s not a pressure weapon. The difference is that Ware-Hudson has room to grow since it doesn’t have much experience. Meanwhile, Taimani has recorded more than 150 snapshots in each of the past three years.
DJ Johnson, BORDE
In 2017, DJ Johnson committed to Miami (FL) as the ninth overall recruit in California. Fast forward to today, and Johnson is a red-shirt senior with little professional production. He even flirted with the tight end last year. Johnson could thrive on Lanning’s defensive scheme, but nothing is certain. He battled an injury late last season and has only been a rotational piece. Could he cement himself as a starter from the brink in 2022?
Mase Funa, BORDE
Mase Funa has been a starter as an outside linebacker for three years. More or less, you know what you’re going to encounter with him. At 6’3″ and 265 pounds, he is a strong career defender who has improved his tackle with each passing season. He shouldn’t be asked to back off the coverage too often, and his ability to press the pin leaves a bit to be desired. However, Funa is a solid college OLB who may struggle to stay in the NFL.
Noah Sewell, LB
The award-winning jewel of Oregon’s 2023 NFL Draft class, Noah Sewell is one of the nation’s top linebackers. His physical playstyle protrudes from the screen and he can rush the pin like a blitzer or from the edge. Sewell can dismantle blockages in the ground game and make potential receivers wary of the medium. Still, he missed more tackles than he’d like in 2021, and his coverage capacity may improve. But even with those negatives, Sewell shouldn’t spend Day 2 one last time.
Justin Flowe, LB
Justin Flowe is all projection. He was an elite high school prospect with outstanding instincts and a nose for the ball. Look at his featured reel and you’ll see him ball carriers and exploding backfields. However, he has only played one game of significant plays in Oregon. If you can stay healthy and live up to expectations, you have first-round potential, as long as you decide to declare (listed as a red-shirted freshman).
Christian Gonzalez and Dontae Manning, CB
Both players are technically listed as sophomores, but Christian Gonzalez (2019) and Dontae Manning (2020) committed more than three years ago. With a height of 6’2″ and 200 pounds, Gonzalez possesses the impressive size and a relentless engine. He started every game since his first-year red jersey campaign in 2020 and looks set to be one of the next DB selected in Oregon.
Meanwhile, Dontae Manning received his first action in a real game last year. He showed promise, although he was defeated several times in the Oregon State Party. At 5’11” and 190 pounds, he plays in the corners differently than Gonzalez. But don’t fool him; the former five-star recruit plays with passion and has athletic talent.
Jamal Hill and Bennett Williams, CB
Next, we have the nickel corners. Bennett Williams entered 2021 as a starter, but a broken fibula interrupted his season. That allowed Jamal Hill to secure a stranglehold on the job. However, he did not play well, conceding more than 70 yards and three chances. As a result, Williams once again heads into the season at the top of the depth chart. The former Illinois transfer caught three interceptions before falling last year. If you can get back to 100%, you have a good chance of winning a last-round pick.
Trikweze Bridges, S
After a few corner openings last year, Trikweze Bridges is making the switch to security. The 6’3″ 190-pound DB is long and physical, which makes the change natural. After allowing five receptions for 78 yards in the first game of the season, Bridges allowed just eight for 70 the rest of the year. Bridges is just a red-shirted sophomore and could return in 2023, even with a solid performance. But the tools are there to become a productive NFL prospect.
It’s been a great journey for Bryan Addison. Joining the Ducks as a four-star athlete, he played primarily on the offensive side of the ball in his first two years. In the transition from wide receiver to defense in 2020, Addison has played in reserve for the past two years.
However, with veteran Steve Stephens recovering from an injury this offseason, the 6’4″ 185-pound Addison has received first-team replays. He needs to increase his structure to withstand the rigors of the NFL, not to mention that he must play well this season. Anyway, the physical ability is there for Addison to be a disruptor and a high school enforcer. You just have to put it all together.
Steve Stephen IV, S
After starting until Week 9 last season, a hamstring injury kept Steve Stephens out for the rest of the year. Now, he’s apparently behind Bridges and Addison on the depth chart. 2021 was Stephens’ first campaign of significant defensive plays. However, he has experience in special teams and is entering his fifth year on campus. If Stephens can clean up his tackles (more than a handful of misses last year) and become a key contributor to special teams, he could win an invitation to NFL camp.