Nov 24, 2012; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De

Oregon State at Oregon - NFL Draft Prospect Preview

Friday November 29th, 4:00 PST – FS1

The Civil War isn’t what we had thought it would be at the beginning of November. Both teams are limping in, but it’s still an important game for both teams and their NFL prospects. The Beavers haven’t beaten the Ducks since 2007, and have been relegated to playing 2nd fiddle to their flashy in-state counterparts. The Ducks are vulnerable against the run, but unfortunately the Beavers don’t do that very well. They will have to rely on their passing game and win in a shootout. The best matchup of the game is going to be Brandin Cooks against Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Both of these guys are elite players who will relish the challenge. Cooks has the most to gain, as his speed will be watched by scouts. If he can beat Ekpre-Olomu NFL teams will have to seriously consider how high they want to draft him.

Oregon Offense

Quarterback #8 Marcus Mariota (6’4” 212lb SO) had been skyrocketing up draft boards earlier this year, but two so-so games have cooled him off a little. Mariota was clearly battling an injury that no one knew about, so he does have some excuse for the drop off. The redshirt sophomore has the size (6’4” 211lb) and speed that NFL teams covet. He has been referred to as a more polished Colin Kaepernick. When he throws the ball, he shows good arm strength to throw deep outs and hit receivers down field. He also has great decision making as evidence by his zero interceptions this year. He has had some accuracy issues, but clearly he is clearly missing his targets in the right spots. When healthy, Mariota is a highlight reel running the ball. He can outrun anyone on a defense’s front seven. He’s the perfect fit for the Ducks spread option offense. The main question is ‘how does he fair under pressure when forced to throw the ball?’ Like any young QB, you hope to see him step up and deliver in spite of taking a shot. He’s got to prove he can do that if he’s going to be a 1st Round pick. Current Projection: 1st Round

Running Back #6 De’Anthony Thomas (5’9” 171lb JR) is the most electric running back since Reggie Bush. When he gets in the open field, look out! An extremely fluid player who is threat to run or catch the ball. He cuts and accelerates like no other player in football. His size (5’9” 169lbs) has been questioned but he actually runs a lot stronger than people think. As a track-lete he has incredibly strong legs. However, durability is clearly a concern, as an ankle injury has held Thomas out over half the season. Another concern is ball security. Thomas fumbles way too much. He had a costly fumble against Stanford, and looked apathetic in his attempt to recover it. Both of these concerns are going to knock him down draft boards. He could really use a big game against the Beavers to get some momentum back. Current Projection: 2nd Round

Oregon State Defense

Defensive End #95 Scott Crichton (6’3” 265lb JR) is a player who can get in the backfield on any play. He’s extremely tough to block with just one guy. He’s got the speed to get to the edge, and a killer spin move. He hold up well against the run, and is great on backside pursuit. It will be interesting to see how he does against the Ducks read option. He could either be a game changer, or a non-factor depending on how he plays. Current Projection: 3rd Round

Cornerback #16 Rashaad Reynolds (5’11” 187lb SR) doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he’s one of the best man coverage corners in the Pac-12. He’s got decent size to be able to jamb a receiver at the line and the speed to keep up down field. He will be tested by Ducks’ receivers Josh Huff and Braylon Addison. Huff is a physical receiver, while Addison is a shifty threat. Reynolds will have to show off all of his skills to keep them in check. Current Projection: 6th Round

Oregon State Offense

Quarterback #4 Sean Mannion (6’5” 220lb JR) had to battle for the starting job in fall camp, and then came out on fire. He’s now one of the leading passers in FBS with over 4,000 yards and 34 TDs. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Oregon State doesn’t have much of a run game, so he’s one of the leaders in pass attempts. He’s got a quick release, and does a good job in pre-snap reads. He doesn’t throw a lot of deep balls, so he needs to show that he has an NFL caliber arm. Oregon has one of the best secondaries in the country. If Oregon State is going to win, Mannion will have to play his best, avoid interceptions, and hit some deep passes against an aggressive Oregon team. Current Projection: Late Round 2015

Wide Receiver #7 Brandin Cooks (5’10” 186” JR) is the leading receiver in FBS with 110 receptions and 1500+ yards. Every opponent knows that Mannion is going to throw to Cooks, but they still can’t stop him. Cooks’ speed makes corners respect the deep threat so they give up the short passes. Cooks takes advantage by making guys miss after he catches the ball. Cooks runs great routes, and is a threat to break a big play any time he touches the ball. He’s going to go up against Ifo-Ekpre Olomu, who is one of the best corners in the country. Cooks will have some chances to go 1-on-1 with Olomu, and if he can beat him consistently, he could greatly improve his draft position. As a side note, Cooks also returns punts, so he could have some special teams value at the next level. Current Projection: 3rd Round

Oregon Defense

Cornerback #14 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is one of the most aggressive corners in the country. He loves being on the island. He rarely shies away from getting up in a receiver’s face and will challenge him at the line. Ekpre-Olomu’s most impressive attribute is the quickness of his hips. He will sometimes bite on a move one way, and then quickly change direction and get back on the receiver. This is something that he might not be able to get away with in the NFL, but it shows great resolve. He also is excellent at locating the ball in the air. It’s a rare occasion that he gets penalized for not turning his head around. Against Oregon State he will face off against the most productive receiver in the Pac-12 in Brandin Cooks. If he shuts down Cooks, Ifo could secure his spot in the 1st Round. Current Projection: 1st Round

Defensive End/Tackle #66 Taylor Hart is a disruptive player in both the run and pass game. He is slippery like a fish. Linemen have a tough time getting their hands on him. He lacks elite speed, but keeps his pad level low, and bursts through small gaps in the offensive line. Hart has been somewhat exposed by teams using a power run game. He doesn’t hold up well against teams who want to run right at him. Right now, he’s a borderline NFL player, and will have to prove he can do well against the run. Current Projection: 7th Round

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