Which Ducks Will Declare Early for 2014 NFL Draft?

Kevin Cline

It is one of college football’s sharpest double-edged swords: If your program is good, often some of the players are too good to expect them to hang around until their senior year.  Until recently, the Oregon Ducks haven’t had much of a problem with big impact players leaving before their eligibility had run out.  Cliff Harris did it, but that is a story many would rather forget.  LaMichael James did it too, leaving after his redshirt junior year, only to get a couple of carries per game for the San Francisco 49ers.

Marcus Mariota is projected a top-5 pick in many NFL mock drafts.

Kevin Cline

Marcus Mariota is projected a top-5 pick in several NFL mock drafts.

Oregon has four potential first-round picks in fan favorites DeAnthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota, Colt Lyerla and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.  Holding onto a player that is nearly guaranteed to be a high-round pick is a tough task for any program, especially one with the success the Ducks have had.

Along the offensive line, tackles Tyler Johnstone and Jake Fisher both have the talent to make the step to the next level.  Johnstone redshirted his first year on campus before beating out current Chicago Bears starter Kyle Long for the Ducks’ left tackle spot, and Fisher has started since his true freshman year, completing the pieces to the outside run game puzzle.

Derrick Malone has made a name for himself, leading the Green and Yellow in tackles through the first three games of the season and could easily be a guy many wouldn’t expect to leave – but could make the jump anyway.  And Terrance Mitchell, Oregon’s lockdown corner two years ago (before team’s stopped throwing his way), could easily declare for the draft; probably a mid-round pick at best, right now.

The easy money is on Lyerla, Ekpre-Olomu, Mariota, and Thomas to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft, but don’t be surprised if one decides to stay.  Sometimes it is the less-talked-about players, the Johnstones and the Malones of college football – not the Black Mombas – who end up declaring for the draft as underclassmen and leave fans asking, “What are they thinking?”


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Brandon Gruber

Brandon Gruber

Brandon is a senior at The University of Oregon majoring in Film Studies and minoring in Communications. Brandon has been a Duck fan for ten years since he moved from southern California to Salem, Oregon, and quickly realized the Ducks were the missing piece in his life. A Pac-12 fan since birth, much of his family attended UCLA and has since converted all of them to the Quack Attack. Brandon interned for the Statesman Journal covering the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and hopes to work for the Pac-12 in the near future. He also hopes to see the "Flying-V" formation played out on the football field in the fall of 2013. Brandon would love your feedback on any and all articles. Tweet me: @BrandonGruber

  • Ryan South

    I disagree with some of this article. Olomu, may leave early but is only a sophomore so I doubt it. Colt Lyrla is losing his catching capabilities and is being under utilized as Johnny Mundt has made a name for himself, so no way will he leave early. Mariota, as he is amazing and has the skills to most likely be a first round pick, is still only a sophomore, and still lacks the leadership and voice to lead an NFL team, so he will stay one more year. Thomas is the only threat of leaving early to an NFL team, but with the injury against Cal, I now doubt that as well.

  • YoMomma

    Lyerla has been MIA this season

  • Technology

    Fisher and Johnstone could easily go into draft and get drafted pretty high not sure another year college does then that much good but really if Ducks can pull off a nat championship win DAT probably go and maybe Marcus and Ifo and Tony Washington after 3 sacks in nat championship win. Go Ducks