Chip Kelly won’t be the only Duck moving to the NFL.
A talented senior class — including Dion Jordan, Kyle Long and Kenjon Barner — has grabbed the attention of NFL scouts. Jordan is considered one of the best defensive end prospects in the draft and may even be a first-round pickup for the right team; Long and Barner both got the chance to showcase their skills at the Senior Bowl. Long made several key blocks playing as a guard and left tackle, while Barner carried the ball three times for 13 yards but did have game-highs in catches and receiving yards.
If Jordan does go in the first round, it would be a significant achievement. Oregon hasn’t had a first rounder taken since 2008 when Jonathan Stewart went 13th overall, which if you’re keeping score at home would make Jordan the only first rounder coached by Kelly.
The Kelly Era hasn’t been an unproductive one in terms of NFL talent, though. Eight Ducks have been drafted in the last three years, including James and Ed Dickson, who will play in the Super Bowl on Sunday, along with former Ducks Haloti Ngata and Dennis Dixon — who is a member of the Raven’s practice squad.
Barner rushed for over 1,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2012 after spending most of his career backing up LaMichael James. Barner was slowed somewhat by a hand injury midway through the season but finished the year strong with a 198-yard performance at Oregon State and a 143-yard game at the Fiesta Bowl. The workhorse back finished with over 100 yards eight times on the season, including a 321-yard outing against USC.
Linebackers Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso are projected by various mock drafts as middle-to-late round pickups. The pair were key to the Ducks’ defensive unit this season — considered by many to be Oregon’s best in recent years. Alonso also picked off four passes on the season, a common theme on an Oregon defense that led the nation in interceptions.
Entering the season, Carson York and John Boyett were both considered potential draft prospects, but each missed their senior season due to injury and fell off of NFL Draft big boards as a result. Punter Jackson Rice is considered one of the top-ten punting prospects in the nation but isn’t likely to be one of the handful taken in the draft, though a free-agent contract doesn’t seem totally out of the realm of possibility.