This was a big weekend for the Oregon Ducks and their fans. It was the end of spring football and the weekend for the NFL draft.
The big news of course was that for the second straight year the Ducks had a first round pick in the draft. Defensive end DeForest Buckner joins former Oregon coach, Chip Kelly in San Francisco as Buckner was the 49ers’ first pick of the draft tabbing the big Hawaiian on the seventh pick of the first round.
No Duck was called for the rest of the draft until the seventh round on the 30th pick (251) when Kelly’s former team, the Philadelphia Eagles picked linebacker LB Joe Walker.
Walker is probably best remembered for one of the most memorable plays in Oregon history. The Ducks were playing Utah on Nov. 8, 2014 and were trailing the Utes, 7-0 when Utah quarterback Travis Wilson launched a beautiful spiral downfield and receiver Kaelin Clay streaked under the ball, pulled it in and headed unmolested toward the Oregon goal line. The place went crazy as Utah fans cheered wildly as Clay headed into the endzone. Everybody was high-fiving, cheering, hugging and celebrating – including the Utah Utes football team. Unfortunately for them, Clay, for some mysterious reason dropped the ball (thinking he was across the goal line) before he cross the line.
It was a fumble and one that Joe Walker picked up and ran 100 yards the opposite direction to score; the fumble recovery caused a swing in momentum that ultimately found Oregon winning the game 51-27.
That was it for the 2016 NFL drafts and the Oregon Ducks.
There were several former Ducks that signed as undrafted free agents as confirmed by NFL.com including OL Tyler Johnstone, San Diego Chargers, LB Christian French, Seattle Seahawks and LB Tyson Coleman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Sacramento Bee is reporting DT Alex Balducci has signed with San Francisco 49ers.
WR Bralon Addison, may have signed a deal with the Denver Broncos but the Broncos have not officially announced the signing.
According to his Twitter account, Quarterback Vernon Adams has been invited to tryout with the Seahawks.
Now onto the spring game, Mighty Oregon won 21-20.
One has to be reminded that a spring football game is not a real game; it is a scrimmage – a practice session. While a running game clock was used in the first half, the second half used a running clock, with time stopped on change of possessions.
In Saturday’s game, the offense and defense had very bland and basic game plans. The passing was short, with lots of dump offs, screens and underneath patterns. Quarterback Dakota Prukop threw a couple of nice long balls (both to freshman Dillon Mitchell and both resulted in touchdowns.) He also missed one long throw to Mitchell.
“I accomplished my two main goals,” Prukop said of what he had intended to do in the spring game. “Get to know my teammates, and have control of the offense. I felt that in this scrimmage the offensive line and myself did a good job of working together and pushing the tempo. We got everyone lined up, made sure everyone was set. All around I accomplished my goals so the spring was a success.”
“I think I have grown a lot,” said Jonson of his status as an Oregon Duck. “Knowing the base offense and really just applying it to the game situations, and as far as just my reads and all that type of stuff it has just been a lot better.”
Mitchell may have been the breakout star of the spring game. He had a total of seven catches for 104 yards and two TDs.
“A lot of people saw how good he can be,” said offensive coordinator Matt Lubick of Mitchell. “Incredible kid. A great football player, but and even better person. For him to be able to function in a situation like today as far as knowing our offense he had to do a ton of work on his own.”
Running back Kani Benoit had 104 yards of rushing and a touchdown. Tony Brooks-James had 75 yards of rushing on 12 carries. Royce Freeman didn’t have a carry, but everyone knows what he can do with the ball and Taj Griffin did not play. It would appear the Ducks running game will pick up where it left off.
Defensively, there was improvement with the Ducks recording a total of 10 sacks among 12 tackles for loss. There were two interceptions and nine pass break ups. Those numbers though must be viewed cautiously because many of those sacks were because the play was called dead as soon as the quarterback was touched by a defender.
Still though there appears to be improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
“We didn’t tackle real well at times, which as a defensive coach you want to see them do a better job of,” observed new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke of his players. “A lot of that is figuring out where we need to get help, and where our strength is. I also think that we made some pretty good physical plays from a defensive standpoint.”
Hoke, though will always want to see improvement and like so many other old coaches, will never be satisfied moving forward.
“Throughout the summer and going into May we have to get a lot better,” cautioned Hoke. “We have to get more physical, we have to get more of a mentality of how we want to play football.”