Opting Out: Did Lenoir and Graham MAKE A MISTAKE?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

We have witnessed it many times as Greybeard-age fans; players who skip their senior season thinking they are NFL talent.  Either they wash out, or it simply doesn’t work out for them and you wish they had remained at Oregon to make an impact in their final year for the Ducks. Is this true for Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir? I believe it is, and I’m curious as to what this community thinks as well concerning their actual NFL chances and the impact of their departure on Our Beloved Ducks.

I know many readers are wondering “I thought you shut down the daily article schedule, Charles?” I have, but when I have a Ponder-Point that comes up … it is easy for me to keyboard a short article in, and post a picture or two.  If I were to guess, you’ll see that once a week on average and it gives us the opportunity to keep the discussions going in the comments. We also have some articles that writers were working on that will be published in the next month along with my Ponder-Point submissions, and of course we will have a GameDay article for discussion, which has been great fun for all.

Few would begrudge Jevon Holland or Penei Sewell opting out, since they are evidently first-round draft picks, but the two corners? I believe Lenoir and Graham were good college players, but the extraordinary speed and athleticism required of professional football is not something I can say about either defender. As you recall, both had significant learning curves as we won games during their early years despite their mistakes, and even last year at Arizona State … sigh. My point is that I believe an extra year would have helped them and the Ducks.

Tom Corno

Thomas Graham used superb form to foil a third down pass in the Rose Bowl.

Over at ScoopDuck, the owner, Justin Hopkins, felt that of the two corners potentially returning back to the Ducks, the highest probability is with Lenoir. My own sources tell me that Deommodore “has too much confidence in his abilities to play again for Oregon.” I choose to frame Lenoir’s mental approach the way former head coach Mike Bellotti did when asked about the bombastic, over-the-top egocentric blusterings of Ryan Leaf before facing the Cougars one year. Mike diplomatically said with a smile that “Ryan is a very confident young man …” I do not think we will see Lenoir back with the Ducks for this shortened season.

We have also been SURPRISED …

I admit that I did not see former Oregon corners Troy Hill or Terrence Mitchell making and sticking on NFL rosters as long as they have, and I salute them. I thought for sure that LaMichael James would flourish in the NFL with his 4.30 speed and toughness exhibited with the Ducks, but no. Which scenario will occur for these Oregon corners leaving the team?

We’ll be OK?

Hopkins also felt that Oregon would benefit from only one of the two returning to play for Oregon, because his sources told him to expect that Mykael Wright (No. 2) to be starting regardless of who returns. Wright had a number of high defensive rankings/ratings coming into the season, and his talent last year was undeniable as both a corner and special teams contributor. Candidates for the other corner include DJ James (who tackles well in open field), and freshman Trikweze Bridges, who was recruited at safety but possess the athleticism and skills to play corner.

Eugene Johnson

Verone McKinley returns one of his two picks vs. Colorado.

My favorite for the open corner spot is Verone McKinley, who played against receivers in the slot as a nickel last year, but was originally recruited to play at corner. This young man seems to be around the ball often and many turnovers were attributed to him, which is unique for a newbie freshman. There is no substitute for experience, as McKinley was on the field for the big plays in 2019 and could step in immediately for Oregon.

What started as a short 250-word Ponder-Point has evolved into a 740 word+ article, as my own thoughts about these corners and the bigger picture at Oregon developed in my own mind. My preference would be one of the two between Graham and Lenoir returning, but I am comfortable with a Wright/McKinley defensive backfield as well. Agree? Disagree?

“Oh how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Tom Corno

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