NFL draft view: Oregon prospect analysis

Oregon’s draft prospects go beyond QB Marcus Mariota. NFL scout Dave-Te’ Thomas analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the Ducks’ draft prospects.


03 Marcus Mariota Oregon QB rJr 06:03.6 217 4.53 7.7 1
The Heisman Trophy favorite recently captured the Davey O’Brien Award and Maxwell Award on his way to becoming the odds-on favorite to be named the first pick in the 2015 draft, especially if current standings hold true (Tampa Bay has the worst record). A gifted athlete, the junior put up impressive numbers, hitting on 68.3 percent of his passes (254 of 372) for 3,773 yards, 38 touchdowns and just two interceptions this year, adding another score on a 26-yard catch, in addition to reaching the end zone 14 times via 117 carries for 669 yards. One of four players in major college history to throw for over 10,000 yards (10,115) and rush for over 2,000 yards (2,136), scouting analysts see the uncanny play-making ability in the Oregon passer that the 49ers have with Colin Kaepernick at the helm.

Much like the San Francisco QB, Mariota needs to be accounted for at all times, as he not only has a rifle arm but is very dangerous when he spots a crease and explodes through it as a ball carrier. He also uses very good touch and anticipation to move the ball. His athleticism matches the “new wave” of quarterbacks in the NFL, as he is very effective operating in play action. Still, much like Kaepernick, Mariota has operated in a pretty simplified offense and it is rare to see him line up under center. He is the type that gets locked on too long trying to connect with his primary target and must do a better job of scanning the field rather than becoming so reliant upon his first read.
52 Jacob Fisher Oregon OT Sr 06:06.2 300 5.22 6.1 3
The Oregon offensive line has been sorely depleted by injuries that cost the team four of their projected starters at one point. Couple that with a sluggish start to the season by 2013 All-American center Hroniss Grasu and you have to be impressed that the Ducks still managed to score 33 times on the ground behind a running unit that averaged 232.0 yards per game. One of the main reasons was the steady play of their left tackle, who delivered 17 touchdown-resulting blocks and 90 knockdowns to guide the team to an 11-0 record with Fisher in the lineup.

The former right tackle took over duties on the left side this season and is regarded as the team’s fastest blocker. With a highly mobile quarterback in Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, Ducks blockers need to have above-average foot speed and lateral agility to provide protection for a passer often on the move. Fisher is also very versatile, having started 22 games at right tackle during the 2012-13 schedules. He originally joined the program as a guard. He lacks consistent explosion and drive off the ball, but has good balance and ability to stay on his feet after contact. He flashes a strong hand punch, but while he keeps good position, he needs to add more power in order to drive block with consistency (tries to run his feet, but needs to improve lower strength). In the run game, he stays low in his pads and uses his long arms to get movement and root out the defender. He is very good at reading and reacting to the action in front of him. His foot agility allows him to slide, adjust and maintain position on his man in the short area. He is not the most fluid runner working in space, but has improved his flexibility, body control and sink-ability.
84 Byron Marshall Oregon TB Jr 05:09.1 207 4.47 5.7 4
Marshall would make a perfect third-down back for some team. He has valid speed to line out wide and the toughness to get a clean release vs. press coverage as a receiver and the balance and second gear to make defenders miss carrying the ball around the corners. One of the stronger ball carriers in this group of tailbacks, he boasts a 455-pound squat. He began his Oregon career playing in 11 games and gaining 464 yards with four touchdowns on 87 carries (5.1 ypc) as a freshman in 2012. The next year, he became the 20th player in school history to run for over 1,000 yards (1,038) on 168 tries, reaching the end zone 14 times on the ground and he also snatched 13 passes for 155 yards. This season, Marshall had to spend more time as a receiver than as a ball carrier. He had 51 attempts for 383 yards and one score, but collected 66 tosses for 834 yards and five more scores prior to playing for the national title.

Marshall is an impressive athlete, as he produces big things from his smaller body. He lacks the bulk, strength or speed that the football gods look for in a franchise tailback, but he has proven that he can carry the brunt of the rushing load or work well within a running back committee. He is a very smart athlete who has no problems digesting the playbook. He has excellent vision through the holes and a knack for anticipating openings in the defenses.

Marshall does not have blazing speed, but is quick from his stance and can be sudden at times. He has the pad level and burst to explode through the holes, but lacks the sustained speed and can be chased down from behind when going long distances. He shows a good first step and lines up tight to reach the hole in time, generating decent explosion coming out of his stance. He has more of a roll-over step to get to his point of mesh.

Marshall has big, soft hands and good extension going for the ball outside his frame. He does a good job of working back to the ball when the pocket is pressured and shows good focus looking the ball in. He can adjust to most anything thrown to him. He keeps his balance turning up field and can quickly come out of his breaks. He has been used mostly on screens and slants, but the system is a little limited in featuring his ability here. He is a smooth runner with good balance to run routes and adjust to the ball, doing a nice job of adjusting in his patterns and is generally successful in finding space.


36 Arik Armstead (RE) Oregon DT Jr 06:06.5 292 4.97 6.3 2-3
Recruited as a dual athlete (football and basketball), it took three seasons before Armstead became comfortable on the gridiron, but despite posting 2.5 sacks among his 5.5 stops for loss in 2014, his 33 tackles are strong indications that he is playing out of position at defensive end. With his body size, he would be better served at tackle in a conventional 4-3 alignment. His pedestrian statistics this year is a marked improvement over his first two seasons with the Ducks, when he had 26 tackles, two for loss, as a freshman. He followed by gaining 15 tackles in 2013, but after starting the first five games that year, he was relegated to reserve duty the rest of the schedule.

Has a tall, lanky frame with broad shoulders, tight waist and good bubble. Armstead shows above-average balance and flexibility on the move, but lacks explosive acceleration in backside pursuit. He is the type that makes quick reads and reacts with good urgency once he locates the ball, but there are times where he can be “faked out” by play action and misdirection. He plays with good aggression, but is best when he engages the offensive lineman and attack with his hands, rather than try and get “too cute” and escape (lacks the lateral agility and sudden burst to escape). Armstead moves well off the line, getting his best production when he beats the offensive tackle coming out of his stance, but must develop a better initial step in order to get through the blockers in tight areas. When he gets a free lane, he has the ability to knife through and penetrate the line, but he lacks the good lateral movement in pursuit and is not really an explosive form tackler when closing on the quarterback.
84 Derrick Malone (WB) Oregon MLB Sr 06:02.0 219 4.67 5.7 4
Malone might be short in stature and he has a frame you usually see on a safety, but the hard-hitting tackler is one of the main reasons the swarming Ducks defense will play in the national title game. Ever since he arrived on campus, the former prep running back has been a “quick study,” contributing 15 tackles while playing mostly on special teams in 2011, playing as a 196-pounder. He returned for 2012 fall camp measuring in at 220 pounds, starting once while playing in every game as a weak-side outside linebacker, posting 41 tackles.

Malone would take over that position as a junior, recording a career-high 105 tackles that included 1.5 sacks and five pass breakups. The three-time Academic All-Pac 12 Conference choice then shifted inside for his final season, entering the national title clash as the team’s second-leading hitter with 81 tackles. His two fumble recoveries and forced fumble all set up Oregon scoring drives.

Malone compensates for a lack of ideal size and timed speed with good lateral quickness, above-average instincts, fluid change-of-direction agility, very good field awareness and true aggression as a tackler. He has a quick short burst and can redirect in an instant. He has adequate straight-line speed and flexible hips, excelling as a space player. He is a physical hitter who wraps up strongly and shows a short-area burst and good change-of-direction skills to get to the ball along the line of scrimmage. He has excellent upper-body strength, and even though he lacks girth he does a good job of stacking, thanks to quick hands and a strong power base. He can sometimes get caught up by the larger blockers, but will generally meet his opponent with strength and leverage.

Malone is a high wrap-up tackler who flashes explosion on contact, but at times he will run underneath blockers and that causes him to have a bad angle and he then has to chase down the ball carrier from behind. Working on the edge, he does a better job of tracking and landing with a lower strike. It is his strength, rather than girth, that lets him make most of his tackles, as he hits ball carriers with a thud.
91 Erick Dargan (SS) Oregon FS rSr 05:11.1 212 4.62 5.7 4
The four-star recruit joined the Oregon program after missing half of his high school senior season due to a knee injury, spending his first year with the team as a red-shirt. He appeared in nine games the following year, posting 15 tackles. After excelling on special teams, he earned three starting assignments at free safety to close out the 2012 schedule, delivering 54 tackles, as he ranked third in the Pac-12 Conference with five interceptions for 77 yards in returns. The second-team All-Pac 12 pick registered 24 tackles on special teams during his junior season. He opened the 2014 schedule as the Ducks’ starting free safety, but also lined up on the strong side. When All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was shut down for the final five games due to an ACL tear, Dargan saw his role in the secondary increase, as he was also called upon to help improve the depth at that position.

Dargan had a banner senior season, as he ranks among the nation’s leaders while pacing the league with seven interceptions for 110 yards in returns. Dargan’s 13 career pass thefts are surpassed by only six active players in the major college ranks. His 187 yards via pass theft runbacks is 16th-best in that active group. He is also leading the Ducks with 90 tackles, as he broke up six passes and caused two fumbles entering the national title clash vs. Ohio State.

Dargan has loose hips and good change-of-direction agility. He has the range and lateral movements to redirect and plays with a high motor. He shows very good balance closing on the ball and uses his upper-body strength effectively to impede the tight end’s route progression. He shows good field vision and urgency keeping plays in front of him. Once he locates the ball, he is quick to accelerate to the action. It is rare to see him caught out of position, as he consistently takes proper angles to close.

Dargan can quickly react and cover ground to make the plays. He showed marked improvement in 2014 in attempts to adjust to the switch-off. His range lets him close with good urgency, playing with better consistency in the deep centerfield. He is much more active in the short zone because of his ability to read the action in front of him. His vision lets him spot the secondary targets and he has developed better break-off vs. the three-step throws.

Despite his timed speed, Dargan might lack explosion coming out of his breaks, but he has the fluid stride and hand-placement skills to mirror tight ends in the short area. He takes proper angles to shorten the field and stays in control closing on the ball (rare to see him over-pursue). He is quick to support vs. the run and has good closing acceleration that he uses in backside pursuit.
92 Tony Washington Oregon OLB Sr 06:03.7 251 4.73 5.6 5
Washington is one of the finest athletes in the Pac-12 Conference, boasting a 455-pound bench press and a very impressive 40-inch vertical jump. The rush end will likely shift to strong-side outside linebacker at the next level. He lacks the bulk to play in the trenches at the next level, but he has very good quickness and balance, as he flashes explosion and possesses a rangy, high cut frame which should be able to handle additional bulk over time. He’s developing as a pass rusher, getting to the quarterback 7.5 times, causing four fumbles via 12.0 stops-for-loss while posting 60 tackles in 2013. With his change-of-direction skills, he’s had considerable success breaking free in isolated situations, executing quick moves chasing from the backside.

As a senior, Washington would often drop back in pass coverage, but knows his “meal ticket” is rushing the passer. He’s caused three fumbles from his six sacks this season, recovering all three turnovers while returning one for a touchdown. He also made 53 tackles, as 11 of those hits have come from behind the line of scrimmage.

Washington fires out of his three-point stance with urgency, generating good pop on contact but needs to be more conscious of his pad level, as he tends to get too high when trying to dip inside to plug rush lanes. He has instinctive read-and-react skills and uses his hands and reach effectively to stave off chest blocks. The Ducks defender is effective as a drag-down tackler after the chase and is also adept at stopping the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage with his leg drive and wrap-up tackling technique. He will hit with good explosion when working in the short area and makes fluid body adjustments when working in space.

Washington has a good feel to read and locate the ball. He is best when he reacts quickly, as he sometimes looks a little mechanical when he plans his moves. He will not be fooled by fakes and play action and he shows the ability to flow to the ball comes with no hesitation. He performs better on the move than when having to read and react due to size issues, but he has a good feel for blocks, knowing where they are coming from and what he needs to do to avoid.
130 Rodney Hardrick Oregon MLB rJr 06:00.5 231 4.76 5.3 5-6


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