Oregon’s Most Successful NFL Draft Pick Players

OregonReigns Editorials

The Draft is one of the most important moments in the entire NFL calendar, as it allows teams the chance to scoop up some of the best talent from schools across the US.

The next NFL Draft is only a few months away, taking place between the 28th and 30th of April, and there are plenty of prospects who look ripe for the picking. If you fancy your chances, you can even bet on who will be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Oregon has long been one of the most successful schools when it comes to producing Draft picks, with many Ducks players going on to have stellar careers in the NFL. Here are some of the most prolific.

Haloti Ngata was dominant…

Haloti Ngata

The hulking defensive tackle was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2006 Draft, selected by the Baltimore Ravens – the first time in the franchise’s history that they selected a defensive lineman in the first round of the Draft. Right off the bat from his rookie season, Ngata was a starter for the Ravens and remained so for his nine seasons with the team. From 2009-13, he was selected for five Pro Bowls in a row.

He won the big one with the Ravens at the 2012 Super Bowl, and overall Ngata proved himself one of the most dominant defensive players in the league during his career, which ended in 2019.

Kyle Long

Coming from a family steeped in football history, it was no real surprise that Long rose to prominence with the Ducks. The offensive lineman was a first-round pick in the 2013 Draft and went to the Chicago Bears, where he hit the ground running.

In each of his first three seasons at the franchise he was selected for the Pro Bowl. Injuries plagued the last few years of his career, and he announced his retirement in 2020, before returning to the fold with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021.

Max Unger, (No. 60) Jonathan Stewart and Dennis Dixon.

Max Unger

In 2009, the Ducks had three second round picks in the NFL Draft, one of which was Unger, who was picked 49th overall. He immediately made his mark on the league, starting at right guard for the Seattle Seahawks before moving to center.

He was selected for consecutive Pro Bowls in 2012 and 2013 and ended up winning Super Bowl XLVIII with the Seahawks. He moved to the New Orleans Saints in 2015 and in 2018 – his final season as a player – was once again chosen for the Pro Bowl.

Russ Francis

Originally drafted by the New England Patriots in 1975, tight end Francis achieved enormous success with two franchises. With the Patriots, Francis became a Pro Bowl selection every season between 1977 and 1979. He played his first eight seasons in New England, gaining more than 500 yards receiving in most of those campaigns.

He then moved to the 49ers, where he eventually won the Super Bowl in 1985. In total, Francis played a whopping 14 seasons in the NFL and finished with 393 career receptions, 5,262 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Jairus Byrd

Byrd entered the 2009 Draft as an underclassman and was selected by the Bills in the second round. He impressed as a rookie, tying as a defensive back for the NFL lead and even setting a franchise rookie record for interceptions.

In his last two seasons with the Bills, 2012 and 2013, Byrd was selected for the Pro Bowl before eventually moving to the New Orleans Saints. His career there was hampered by injury, and he finished his career with the Carolina Panthers.

Jonathan Stewart played a long career for Carolina.

Jonathan Stewart

As a two-time All-American at Oregon, the running back was primed and ready for the NFL by the time he was drafted in 2008 by the Panthers. In his first two seasons in Carolina, he achieved 10 touchdowns and in that second season he made 1,133 rushing yards, which would end up being a career best.

He finished five of his 10 seasons with the Panthers with at least 800 rushing yards before finishing his career at the New York Giants. His progression as a player was hindered by injuries – and a job-share at the Panthers – but Stewart still left his mark.

2022 Draft picks

Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux could well be the first overall pick in the 2022 Draft and he’s tipped to be a future star of the NFL. Expect Verone McKinley III to also be selected in the first round; the defensive back has proven himself one of the smartest players on the Oregon roster.

The Ducks have supplied the NFL with some excellent players over the years, from Super Bowl winners to regular Pro Bowl selections. Looking at the potential pool of Oregon players for the 2022 Draft, that trend looks set to continue.

Lakeside, Oregon
Top Photo by Baltimore Ravens Twitter

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