Football fans everywhere are rejoicing as the season is in full swing. As Duck fans eagerly await the Oregon season opener, don’t forget to check in on your favorite former Oregon players as they work through the NFL preseason around the country.
A number of us will play fantasy football this year, and while picking with your heart instead of your head is usually a recipe for disaster, these former Ducks should allow you to do both. Here are a few worthy additions to your roster.
Arik Armstead: OK, technically you cannot draft an individual defensive player, but Armstead is poised to play a significant role in the 49ers’ defense this season. The 6′ 7 defensive end was drafted 17th overall by San Francisco, who have relied heavily on its defense to carry the team over the past few seasons.
Armstead played 46 downs against the Texans in his NFL debut and recorded two tackles. He was also flagged for a holding penalty, but defensive coordinator Eric Mangini wasn’t worried, and praised Armstead’s play.
“He had great awareness,” Mangini said. “He’s just got to understand he can’t hook the guy. You can knock him down but you can’t hook him. But that’s one of those things that you love the fact that he recognized it.”
Josh Huff: Utilized mainly as a special teams option in his rookie campaign, Huff is gearing up to take the spot of Jeremy Maclin in 2015. Chip Kelly continues to shape his roster with a number of former Oregon players as he enters his third season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Huff put up outstanding numbers in his four years with Oregon, hauling in 144 passes for 2,366 yards and 24 touchdowns. Philadelphia rarely took advantage of his pass-catching ability last year, but Huff’s physical ability was put on display with a 107-yard kickoff return TD — the longest in Eagles history and the first TD of Huff’s pro career. A murky quarterback situation in Philadelphia could hurt his early season numbers, however his talent and new role is enough to warrant keeping an eye on the sophomore WR.
Marcus Mariota: We can’t talk about Oregon and football without bringing up the most decorated Duck in history. The Tennessee Titans won’t become a threat overnight with the addition of a single player, but with a clear path to the starting job and talented targets, Mariota promises to have a solid season and should be on every watch-list for rookie of the year.
Fans and analysts alike have raved about Mariota’s performance in training camp, as he avoided throwing an interception in his first 230 passes. His first action in a real game (as real as a preseason game can be) highlighted his rookie status — an interception and fumble — as well as his incredibly high ceiling with a 90-yard TD drive.
Mariota completed 7-of-8 passes for 94 yards in the first quarter and spent the remainder of the game on the sidelines. We can expect growing pains, but the Titans knew what they were doing when they used their No. 2 pick on the GoAT.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck
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