At least 10 players from Oregon’s 2019 team are headed to the NFL.
Four Ducks were selected during the three-day virtual draft over the weekend with six others signing as undrafted free agents so far.
Justin Herbert was the headliner of the group after Oregon’s four-year starting quarterback went No. 6 overall on Friday to the Los Angeles Chargers.
“This is an opportunity and an experience that I’ve been waiting for my entire life,” said Herbert, who is expected to learn behind veteran Tyrod Taylor before stepping forward as the face of the franchise.
Linebacker Troy Dye, another member of Oregon’s 2016 recruiting class who started on a 4-8 team as a freshman and won the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl as a senior, went in the fourth round to Minnesota.
“(Dye) is a long, linear, athlete that has great range to cover the field,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said. “I see him coming in and contributing right away not only as a backup but contributing on special teams as well.’
Two members of Oregon’s vaunted offensive line — left guard Shane Lemieux (fifth round, New York Giants) and center Jake Hanson (sixth round, Green Bay) — were also drafted.
“Every really good club that I have been with, the offensive line has set the tone,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said. “(Lemieux) is a tough kid who plays mad. He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s a pretty good athlete. We’re excited to add him to the mix.”
Undrafted prospects accounted for 30.9% of the players on NFL rosters in 2019.
The Ducks who were not among the 255 players selected in the draft that have signed deals are wide receiver Juwan Johnson (New Orleans), tight end Jacob Breeland (Baltimore), offensive linemen Calvin Throckmorton (New Orleans) and Brady Aiello (Minnesota) and defensive ends Bryson Young (Atlanta) and Gus Cumberlander (New Orleans).
#WhoDat ⚜️ Excited to be joining the @Saints— Calvin Throckmorton (@calthrock_54) April 26, 2020
Both Johnson and Throckmorton were projected to be late-round draft picks by most evaluators. Breeland had put himself in position to be drafted in the early rounds until suffering a knee injury during his senior season.
“We never want to lose track of a player who has a good grade though, even though it might not be a position we came into the draft with of a need or a must position,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of putting together the team’s class of undrafted players, which includes three Ducks. “If we felt the grade was good enough, we try to get those players signed. I think it went pretty smooth.”
Oregon is expected to have one of the top draft picks again in 2021 when left tackle Penei Sewell is eligible. Only Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields currently have better odds of being the No. 1 overall pick than reigning Outland Trophy winner.
Contact reporter Ryan Thorburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-338-2330, and follow him on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn and Instagram @rg_ducksports. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.