How the NFL Draft Shapes the Future of Oregon Football

Joshua Whitted Editorials

In less than a month, for one weekend, college football fanatics and NFL enthusiasts alike will gather around their television screens to watch what has become one of the most anticipated events on the football calendar: the NFL Draft. It’s a time of celebration, excitement and optimism, as millions of people watch former collegiate superstars take their talents to the professional level.

But for Mario Cristobal, the NFL Draft isn’t an excuse to eat pizza and have a few drinks. It’s the biggest recruiting pitch in his arsenal.

Sure, confidence and charisma are important attributes. But without consistently developing NFL draftees, even the most talented recruiters in the game will fizzle out before long. As important as national titles, Heisman Trophies, academics and campus lifestyle are, the majority of blue-chip recruits want to go to a school that will get them drafted as highly as possible.

Kevin Cline

Recruits hope to be drafted as highly as Justin Herbert someday.

Think of how many superstar cornerbacks have committed to LSU or Florida, due to their track record of sending defensive backs to the NFL. Clemson consistently lands top wide receiver prospects because they have a reputation for developing future NFL wide receivers. Alabama and Ohio State are recruiting powerhouses, not just because they win so many games, but because they send more players to the pros than everyone else.

Think about it from a blue-chip prospect’s perspective. If he plays for Nick Saban, it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll end up on an NFL roster after three years. That’s a heck of a sales pitch.

Cristobal has all of the skills and attributes that you could ask for in a recruiter. He’s smart, he’s charismatic, he’s a tireless worker, and he’s an infectious leader. The results speak for themselves, as he has done the unthinkable and established Oregon as a recruiting force in the West.

Matt Zlaket

By putting players into the NFL, more recruits will want to play for Cristobal.

Now, as his earliest recruits become draft-eligible, it’s time to tick the last box on his recruiting checklist. Players like Penei Sewell and Jevon Holland in this year’s draft, and future NFL hopefuls like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Mykael Wright and others, will help validate everything that Cristobal is selling.

Producing NFL talent shows prospects that a coach and a program aren’t just “talking the talk“; they’re “walking the walk“. If you thought Oregon was recruiting well before, just wait until high school linemen see that playing for Cristobal means there’s a chance they end up as a top-10 pick. When’s the last time that USC could say that? I’ll wait. (In case you were wondering, it was nine years ago.)

So, as you grab your wings and have your house party this NFL Draft, just remember that while the last weekend in April is certainly a time to cheer on the many amazing Oregon superstars, it’s also a pivotal step in building a championship collegiate roster.

Joshua Whitted 
Morgantown, West Virginia
Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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