Former Oregon Ducks standout Ugo Amadi has emerged as one of the brightest stars from the 2019 draft class. The Seattle Seahawks rookie has dazzled this preseason, defending the pass and the run, returning punts, and blitzing and covering as a defensive back.
While Saturday is a big day for Amadi because of the Seahawks impending 53-man roster cuts, it is also the first day his former team will step on the field for the 2019 college football season.
We caught up with Amadi ahead of Oregon's intriguing matchup with Auburn in Week 1. He shared his thoughts on Justin Herbert, the possible first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, as well as the Ducks players he thinks you should keep your eyes on this season. Take a look:
Ugo's predictions for Oregon this season:
“I expect them to do well. I expect nothing but the best for my guys...We have everything that’s needed to win the Pac-12."
On who talks the most trash about college football in the Seahawks locker room:
"Me. Because I went to Oregon. We’re the only team in the locker room that’s been to a National Championship so nobody else can argue with that."
His opinion on Justin Herbert, now that he’s been around elite NFL quarterbacks:
"He definitely has what it takes. He’s smart, he loves the game—that’s important. He has what it takes."
On who is the most underrated Duck on the defense and offense:
“I think Fat Mac [Jordon Scott] on d-line. I think they sleepin’ on him. On offense, I’d say probably Dallas Warmack. Those guys are both very competitive and when you look on tape, they’re really getting after guys on every snap.”
On how he would compare Oregon’s strength/conditioning to NFL’s?
“They’re both different because at this level it’s all about longevity. In college, it’s all about you got to be fit for your conference. You know, SEC, you got to get big—that’s what strength and conditioning coaches are meant to do. Pac-12 it’s all about speed. You’re doing a lot of plyometric stuff and all that, so there’s two big different stages when it comes to lifting.”'
On if he thinks the Ducks will lose by 7 to the Huskies this year:
“Y’all are living in a fantasy world up here. You gotta understand Washington lost to Oregon 17 years in a row.”
On whether he thinks the Ducks could win a National Championship this year:
“Look, I’m not there so I just know their going to win the Pac-12. We can’t just hop over hurdles. We got to initiate one thing—that’s knock out the Pac-12. After that, everything will flow with the flow with the flow.”
Former Oregon standout Ugo Amadi brings explosiveness, versatility to Seahawks
USA Today Images
Former Oregon standout Ugo Amadi brings explosiveness, versatility to Seahawks
At Oregon, Amadi showcased his quickness and versatility, whether it was returning a 56-yard punt and taking it to the house against UCLA or stunning Cal with two interceptions for Pac-12 defensive player of the week honors.
Now with the Seattle Seahawks, nothing has changed for Amadi.
In the team’s first practice with pads on Monday, the rookie intercepted an errant pass from Paxton Lynch to Chris Carson for a pick-six during the red zone team period.
“I feel like I’m really advanced at where I’m at right now,” Amadi said on Tuesday. “I’m always in the playbook, I’m always talking to Bobby (Wagner) about certain defenses, I’m always talking to the personal assistants that we have, making sure they keep me in the loop as well. So I’m just trying to stay ahead and be available at all times.”
Amadi’s versatility and knack for making splash plays is what made him an attractive pick for Seattle in the 2019 NFL Draft. At Oregon, Amadi played nearly every spot in the secondary and also left his mark on special teams as a punt returner.
The well-rounded fourth-round pick has worked primarily at free safety and nickel with Seattle, and he says he’s feeling comfortable playing either position.
“It’s just all about knowing the gap fits on runs because that’s very key in this defense as well, and making sure that I know the little adjustments,” Amadi said. “I’m going to be in there with the vets so I have to talk like a linebacker and as a DB at the same time, so just knowing both.”
There's just over a week until Seattle’s preseason opener on Aug. 8. Amadi, as well as the rest of the team's rookies, figures to play a prominent role in what will be his first taste of game action at CenturyLink Field.
Marquise Blair bashes his way from Wooster to the Seattle Seahawks
Marquise Blair bashes his way from Wooster to the Seattle Seahawks
RENTON, Wash. - Seattle rookie safety Marquise Blair simply doesn't have much to say. Not to the media. Not to his teammates. Not to his coaches. Not to pretty much anybody. It's nothing personal. He's simply a man of few words.
"That's just me," Blair said with a smile while standing before about 25 media members following the first day of Seattle's rookie minicamp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
That reality will certainly be a departure from the defensive backs that roamed Seattle's secondary during the recent glory years when the boisterous Legion of Boom operated at full force. But, like that group, Blair certainly enjoys bringing the boom if not also the noise after the fact. He is a true hitter in every sense of the word. He thirsts for contact, so much so that all of his coaches along the way from Wooster High School through Dodge City Community College and at Utah marveled at his ability to deliver blows that helped wreck opposing offenses.
“The first thing that stands out is his smile,” Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said when asked of what he will remember most about Blair's days at Utah. “The next thing would be how that smile was so deceiving because he will kill you dead on the field.”
Now he brings that tenacity to a team that could use a little attitude on the back end after the loss of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas over the past couple of years.
What the Seahawks are getting in Blair is a hungry player that came from humble beginnings and ended up a second-round pick in the NFL.
"It changed my life," Blair said of being selected. "I'm happy to be here."
How he arrived here was somewhat unconventional.
--- A career that almost never was
Blair had to be convinced to play football as a 175-pound sophomore in 2012 at Wooster High in Wooster, Ohio, population 27,000. He didn't enjoy his freshman season and saw himself more as a basketball player. First-year Wooster football coach Doug Haas didn't give up on Blair, and with the help of his mother, Tonya Boykins, convinced him to join the team once school began. By that point, Blair had already missed three weeks of practices. Haas wasn't about to allow Blair to see varsity game action right away. Haas made Blair play junior varsity for three weeks to match the three weeks of practices he had missed.
Because learning the safety position in just a week proved troublesome, Blair played his first junior varsity game at standup defensive end.
"He had seven sacks and recovered an onside kick," Haas said. "He was just a terror. My J.V. staff came back and said, 'well, that's the last we'll see of him.'"
A couple of weeks later, Blair moved up to varsity and played cornerback where his man-to-man skills shined. Haas recalled a play when the opposing team ran a reverse to the wide side of the field directly at Blair, all alone in open space.
"He cuts this kid down in the backfield," Haas said. "And I go, 'okay, this guy is pretty special. He's going to be playing on Saturdays.'"
The following season, Blair moved to safety. The defense struggled early on before Blair texted Haas asking to move to linebacker in order to be closer to the action. The team ran a 4-2-5 defense that used a hybrid safety/linebacker position. Blair flourished in that spot and the team's season turned around. Blair, however, still though basketball might be his best sport. But Haas informed him that there wasn't much of a demand for a 6-foot-2, left-handed guard with a weak jump shot. However, fast, physical safeties that loved contact were always in demand. That description certainly fit Blair.
"I've never seen anybody as physical as he is in terms of just the ability to have blatant disregard for your body and just explode into people," Haas said, "and then straighten up your helmet, pop up, get right back and get the play call and move on. That's what so separated him from everybody else."
Blair's toughness could be traced to having grown with five siblings, including four brothers, two that were older.
"We always played backyard football so I feel that's where that really came from," Blair said.
The older brothers would rough up Blair from time to time.
"A little bit. Not no more, though," Blair said with a smile.
NFL Films also influenced Blair's mindset on the field.
"When I was little I'd watch highlights," he said. "Hard-hitting highlights."
On most plays, there is going to be some hard-hitting contact so Blair's philosophy is simple.
"I'd just rather it be you (who gets hit hard) than me," he said.
Interest in Blair as a potential college football player took shape soon after his junior season when he received his first scholarship offer in early 2014. Rated as a three-star recruit by 247sports.com and Rivals.com, Blair received offers from Minnesota, Purdue, Kent State, Toledo and Syracuse. That summer, he took an unofficial visit to Syracuse, connected with the players and coaches there and committed that June.
One fatal flaw stood in the way; his grade-point average.
"Marquises will be the first to tell you that he was young and immature as a freshman and didn't think about the repercussions of not performing well in the classroom," Haas said.
Blair began to play catch-up in the classroom while continuing to make opponents pay for allowing him to catch them on the field. Blair would go on to be named first-team Division II all-state as a senior and was named the 2014 Ohio Cardinal Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He led the team with 75 tackles and on offense caught 35 passes for 724 yards and 11 touchdowns. In a playoff game, Blair scored four touchdowns on offense and one on defense to lead the team to a 35-7 win.
According to Haas, Blair finally realized that football would be his "meal ticket" and gave up basketball his senior season in order to focus on his studies and training for college. But could he become eligible to play at an FBS program?
Blair did all that he could, including taking online classes during the summer after graduating in order to become eligible. Syracuse helped with the process. All signs appeared positive until the 11th hour. In late July, the NCAA determined that it would not approve Blair's transcript making him ineligible to play major college football.
"There was a culpability there," Haas said. "He learned the error of his ways."
Scramble mode ensued. Blair and his coaches had little time to find an alternative plan at a junior college where he could play and work on his associate's degree in order to later transfer to a four-year institution. With few options to choose from, Blair selected Dodge City Community College in Dodge City, Kansas.
Blair applied online, received a football scholarship, packed his bags, got a ride to Cleveland an hour away and then took his first plane ride just under 1,000 miles west to attend school in a city he had never visited to play for people had had never met in person.
At the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita, Kan., to pick up Blair in late summer of 2015 was linebackers coach Michael Starkey, now at Defiance College in Ohio. Blair had gotten everything all squared away late in the process and missed a few days of fall camp before his arrival. So, Starkey brought along a note pad, handed it to Blair in the car at the airport and during the 2 1/2 hour drive to Dodge City held a one-on-one defensive playbook cram session.
Dodge City, like Wooster High, used essentially a 4-2-5 defense with heavy man defense that Blair took to quite easily. He once again played a hybrid linebacker/safety role and once again flew around with reckless abandon creating havoc. But he did so while playing within the structure of the defense, which required him to play a lot of man-to-man coverage on slot receivers.
"You could just tell the first day of practice that he understood things," Starkey said. "He just understood football. He understood concepts, he understood the schemes and he took coaching very well. He just applied what he saw and what we were trying to do on the field better than anyone I've ever coached."
"He's a violent striker," Starkey said. "He can uncoil his hips whether it was destroying a blocker or making a tackle...That's one thing that immediately caught our eyes on his high school film just how violent he was as a 17-year-old high school senior. He was just violent in everything he did."
Blair's impact was instant and continued for two years. As a senior, Blair had 99 tackles, four interceptions, three sacks and forced four fumbles.
"Everybody on our coaching staff and a lot of guys on our team they saw very quickly that he was just different," Starkey said. "He could do a myriad of different things that just made him elite at that level, for sure."
Starkey said that Blair didn't instantly become enamored with Dodge City but the coach told him that after one year there, when he went home for the summer, he would dream about coming back to be with his teammates.
"When I picked him up for his sophomore year he was like, 'damn coach, I couldn't wait to get back,'" Starkey said.
Blair did the work in the classroom and made the plays in games that allowed him to stand out.
"He took coaching very well," Starkey said. "Better than anyone I've ever coached."
And just like at Wooster, Blair created a highlight reel of vicious hits.
-- Utah hunts for a linebacker, finds a safety
In 2017, Utah had graduated two senior linebackers and needed help at the position. That sent defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley to Dodge City to recruit Blair, who stood out on game video with his speed and tenacity. A three-star recruit yet again, Blair would receive offers from Nebraska, Louisville, Michigan State, Iowa State and others.
When Scalley met Blair, the coach did a double take. Blair, then about 187 pounds, didn't resemble the player Scalley had seen on video.
"He looked big (in action)," Scalley said. "Maybe because he just played big. They'd blitz him off the edge and he'd take on pullers. "
Scalley said that Blair's junior college film was one of the most impressive physical displays he'd ever seen. So while Blair was not the guy Utah thought he was, "it didn't change that we loved him," Scalley said.
Utah recruited Blair to play safety.
“He could flat out move and was so physical,” Scalley said. “He was worth taking, regardless of position he was going to play.”
The challenge would be to get Blair’s footwork down at the safety position. That directive proved to not be a problem.
“It was very natural for him," Scalley said. "He’s such an athlete.”
Once again, Blair took well to coaching. Different staff. Same results. He bought into the program and Utah bought into him.
Blair needed exactly one play to announce his presence at Utah with a thud. It happened during his debut in the 2017 opener at home against North Dakota.
“He lights this guard up as if the kid were a little league football player,” Scalley said. "Just ruined him..."The entire stadium just goes, "ooh. That was our first taste of Marquise Blair at the University of Utah."
Back in Dodge City, Starkey watched the game with his girlfriend, who reacted excitedly when Blair made that big hit. Starkey, however, didn't blink.
"I just kind of looked at her like, 'yeah, that's what he does,'" Starkey said. "That's the lion being a lion."
Blair went on to have a great Utah career that ended with him being named second-team all-Pac-12 as a senior. Remember those academic problems that dogged him in high school? Blair was named to the conference's honorable mention all-academic team.
Scalley said he believes that Blair is only scratching the surface of what he can do at the safety position because he's only played it for two years. But, he continued, that Blair must continue to work on his man-to-man coverage skills at the next level. Scalley doesn't expect that Blair will ever lose focus and not be able to adjust to new challenges.
“He hates to lose,” Scalley said. “He hates to lose a rep.”
Plus, Blair is all about team accomplishment and wants to be a key part of that success.
“He’s not a me-guy," Scalley said. "He doesn’t even have a Twitter account right now...He’s not the guy that you're going to want to interview after the games. He’s not the guy that's going to give you complete sentences but he is a guy that lights up a room with his smile."
--- Seahawks see a fit
On the second night of the NFL Draft, Seattle general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll zeroed in on Blair despite safety not being a huge need with starters Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson returning. They were seduced by Blair's physicality and athleticism.
"We worked him out at the Combine and we thought this guy could play corner," Schneider said. "He’s just that kind of athlete. Really intense tempo-setter. Tough, tough dude.”
Carroll said he could see Blair, who became the father of a son last summer, playing Nickel right away because he is athletic enough to do so. But the primary objective is to groom him as a strong safety.
"We really like him attacking the line of scrimmage..." Carroll said. "It’s his toughness that we’re really excited about.”
Blair is joined in Seattle by former Utah teammate, linebacker Cody Barton, selected in the third round.
Barton said Blair's personalities on and off the field are polar opposite.
"He doesn’t talk much, but he’s a very mellow, cool guy and then all of a sudden he puts the helmet on and he’s a wild man," Barton said. "He just wants to kill people. But great player, super smart on the field, has great range. Playing with him coming from Utah, I know how he plays and he’s going to do great things here."
Barton said the biggest hit he's ever seen Blair deliver came against Arizona when he smacked the Wildcats quarterback. However, Blair was called for targeting, a frequent occurrence during his career and something he said he needs to work on.
"I've just got to lower my target," he said.
Seattle also drafted Oregon safety Ugo Amadi in the fourth round to play free safety opposite Blair in the second unit. The two didn't know much about each other until they met at the NFL Scouting Combine. This weekend, they were roommates.
And, according to Amadi, Blair actually speaks and has done so quite often.
"Yes, he definitely talks to me," Amadi said with a laugh. "We always talk...I don't know if ya'll have something going on, but for me, good vibes over there."
What's clear is that even without much to say, Blair connects with those closest to him off the field.
"He's a great kid," Scalley said. "He has a great heart. I just loved his personality. You've gotta earn his trust, but once you do that dude will do anything for ya.”
Haas listened to Blair's draft teleconference and the short sentences he delivered and could only laugh. Those who have helped Blair reach this point find his budgeting of words endearing because they know who the person is behind the quiet demeanor. Haas, Starkey and Scalley have helped groom someone that Seattle is hoping will deliver loudly on the field where it matters the most and where he will always speak the loudest.
"He is a man of very few words," Haas said. "He's very comfortable with silence."
Unless, of course, Blair is creating the crashing sound of pad-on-pad violence.
Ugo Amadi gets first taste of the NFL during Seattle Seahawks' rookie minicamp
Ugo Amadi gets first taste of the NFL during Seattle Seahawks' rookie minicamp
RENTON, Wash. - Seattle drafted former Utah safety Marquise Blair in the second round last week to be a big hitter. The Seahawks selected former Oregon safety Ugo Amadi in the fourth round to be a cerebral free safety.
So it was only fitting that shortly after Blair concluded his press conference following the first day of rookie minicamp with never uttering more than an eight-word sentence, Amadi took the podium looking studious in thick framed glasses and proceeded to flash the same smile and personality he displayed while being a four-year starter at Oregon.
His best line might have been when he talked about his parents being there to watch his first NFL practice.
“I loved it, especially being so far away," he said. "I actually saw them in the cafeteria and I turned into a little baby. You know how your parents used to pick you up from daycare? I was ‘Oh my god,’ that’s the feeling I had.”
Amadi elicited plenty of smiles and laughs during his seven-minute Q&A, and on the field certainly looked like he belonged at this level. He is almost assured of making the team as a rookie given that Seattle invested a fourth-round pick in his talents. After that, it will be up to his development. But the Seahawks like his intelligence and versatility as someone who played both cornerback and safety for the Ducks.
On Friday, he saw time at free safety and nickelback and said he wasn't surprised.
"I knew that with my versatility, that I just expected to do anything today," he said. "It went very well for me. I understood their scheme a lot, a lot quicker just from the system I came from so I just adapted a lot quicker.”
Given how more and more NFL teams are moving toward spread offenses, Amadi recognizes the importance of being a versatile defensive back.
“It’s very important nowadays to what the NFL game is turning into and especially with guys getting hurt," he said. "When guys go down, you have a guy to play that position and not have to worry.”
Amadi said Oregon's system under former defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt had many similarities to Seattle's defense.
"We had an NFL system with coach Jim Leavitt so everything was just like A and B, all replicated each other, just different verbiage,” Amadi said.
Minicamp included 68 players all in shorts, jerseys and helmets. There was no hitting.
The last former Oregon defensive back to play for the Seahawks was cornerback Walter Thurmond (2010-2013). Amadi arrived at Oregon in 2015 so he never played with Thurmond but he certainly had heard of him.
“All the DB coaches (at Oregon), the first two years that’s all they preached about was about him… how he could hit," Amadi said
Amadi, listed at 5-foot-9 and 201-pounds, got his first taste of the size of NFL receivers, specifically second-round pick D.K. Metcalf out of Mississippi, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 229 pounds.
“He’s a monster," Amadi said. "He’s a Calvin Johnson size. He’s definitely a threat to all defenses. He knows how to attack the ball, he’s very physical. I used to go up against him in high school, we used to go to camps together, he was that big in high school and I was still my size. He’s going to be definitely a threat when the season comes as well… the guy is a freak.”
NFL Draft Galore: Four Oregon Ducks find great fits in NFL
NFL Draft Galore: Four Oregon Ducks find great fits in NFL
The 2019 NFL Draft is over and four Ducks became ProDucks. As expected, all four Oregon players were drafted in the mid-to-late rounds. This is the most Ducks drafted since 2015, when NFL teams selected five Ducks, with second overall pick Marcus Mariota leading the way. Before the draft, there were 19 active Ducks on NFL rosters.
Ugo Amadi was the first Duck off the board by the Seattle Seahawks and drafted in the fourth round at No.132 overall.
Jelks and Mitchell went later in the draft than expected. Some teams struggled with where Jelks fits from a position standpoint because he is a bit of a “tweener”, plus a lackluster NFL Combine performance added to late selection. In the case of Mitchell, the UO single season receiving yards record holder, had to compete against a 2019 receivers group full of incredible, large athletes who excel in contested catches.
Because of Mitchell's slide, many poised the question, would it have been smarter for the reciever to return to Oregon for his senior season? It'd be hard to replicate his break out junior season and another year of stats would not have improved his NFL projections much. Striking while the iron was hot and not risking injury still seems like the smarter play for a receiver who didn't have much to gain as an NFL prospect by returning.
Two more Ducks signed as free agents; Kano Dillon with the Washington Redskins and Tony Brooks-James with the Atlanta Hawks.
The majority of Oregon’s top NFL prospects came back for their senior season: quarterback Justin Herbert, offensive linemen Calvin Throckmorton, Jake Hansen, Shane Lemieux and linebacker Travis Dye. By the way, Herbert already is the talk of the town. The league is licking its lips at Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels.
Ugo Amadi became the first Duck drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft when the Seattle Seahawks selected him in the fourth round, No.132 overall. Not only did Amadi's dream to play professional football come true, it appears he also became a father. He posted about the birth of his son, Ugochukwu Amadi Jr. on his Instagram.
It was a big day for the versatile safety whose four-year contract is projected to be worth $3,165,188 with a $645,188 signing bonus, according to OverTheCap.com.
"It's going to be a huge blessing to able to just get an opportunity to play at the next level," Amadi told Bri Amaranthus. "It's something I worked my whole life to get to. Next step will be to work even harder to gain the trust and respect from my teammates to be that guy and come in and dominate early."
The first Duck is off the board! The Seattle Seahawks selected Ugochukwu "Ugo" Amadi (pronounced oo-go-choo-koo uh-MOD-ee) in Round 4 with the 132nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Amadi's four-year contract is projected to be worth $3,165,188 with a $645,188 signing bonus, according to OverTheCap.com. Here is what the Seahawks are getting with the ProDuck and how Amadi fits the team’s needs.
TEAM NEEDS Seattle had a major need to add members to the new Legion of Boom. The Seahawks needed additional depth at cornerback and safety, and they got it! Amadi is a dependable and versatile safety, a perfect fit for Seattle. Amadi is a punt return talent with good toughness and that has improved every year. The Seahawks have now selected two defensive backs through the first four rounds of the draft. They drafted Utah safety Marquise Blair in the second round. The Seahawks met with Ugo Amadi at the NFL Combine but he didn't hear from the Seahawks after that until they asked for his draft day information. "It was kind of by surprise,” Amadi said.
YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW THAT as a senior Amadi became the first FBS player since 2015 and first Pac-12 player since 2007 with two pick-6s and a punt return for a touchdown in the same season.
AT OREGON Amadi played in all 51 of Oregon’s games during his four-year career. As a senior, he won the Lombardi Award, which recognizes the top FBS player regardless of position. Versatile Amadi was the Duck to do it all; playing cornerback, safety and returning punts. In 2018, Amadi finished with 55 tackles, including five tackles for loss with 1.5 sacks. He intercepted three passes overall, and had eight pass breakups.
PRAISED FOR his leadership and efforts off the field. A five-time game captain who shared Oregon’s team MVP award with quarterback Justin Herbert, Amadi also was an active participant in community outreach projects while leading a secondary that featured three sophomores at the other starting spots. Oregon coach Cristobal called him “the quarterback of the offense.”
STRENGTHS Amadi’s ability to affect the game and make plays on the ball has impressed… Draft profiles list him as a “ball hawk.” He’s not afraid of undercutting breaking routes to make big plays and showed he’s a threat to take it the distance. Over his final two seasons, Amadi amassed six interceptions, highlighted by three pick-6s, and forced four fumbles.
NEEDS TO WORK ON The biggest knock on Amadi is his less than ideal size and the giving up initial separation on deep throws. Amadi will need to improve his top speed acceleration out of turns and his lateral transitions.
How would he describe his game? “I can go out and get the ball back to our offense. That’s my strength. I can get the ball back. I’m very instinctive; quick and fast. I know how to play the deep ball. I’m your all-around DB.”
QUOTE "It's going to be a huge blessing to able to just get an opportunity to play at the next level," Amadi told Bri Amaranthus. "It's something I worked my whole life to get to. Next step will be to work even harder to gain the trust and respect from my teammates to be that guy and come in and dominate early."
BEST SOCIAL POST Amadi posted an Instagram video eating a cupcake that was named after him and his reaction is perfect.
Rounds one through three of the 2019 NFL Draft have wrapped up and Oregon did not have any players drafted. This is as expected, although a few projections had EDGE Jalen Jelks going as high as the second round. There are four Ducks that are widely expected to be drafted and a couple more that will hope to sign free agent contracts.
Here are some interesting notes from day two.
Quarterback Justin Herbert already is the talk of the town
The 2019 NFL Draft is still underway but everyone is already talking about Herbert again. The league is licking its lips at Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels.
Analysts are already looking towards 2020 and Oregon's quarterback is one of the top prospects on the board. It’s WAY too early but the hype for Herbert as possibly the top overall pick next year is already building.
The 2019 NFL Draft starts today! Oregon is not expected to have a player selected in Thursday’s first round for the third year in a row. However, crazier things have happened! Which Duck do you think will be selected first? Which Duck are you going to miss the most next season? If you want to be the UO fan in the know, I got you covered for the NFL Draft.
Here is what NFL teams are getting with each Duck.
Dillon Mitchell’s ability as a ball carrier, excellent route running, efficient footwork and yards after catch potential make him an enticing weapon for NFL offenses. He's projected to be a mid to late round selection.
How high in the draft will Jalen Jelks go? The NFL is always starving for pass rushers and Jelks could be quite attractive to some teams. Jelks has the length and pass rush ability many GMs dream about, however he weighs under 250 pounds. He's projected to be a mid round selection, but could be the first Duck off the board.
Is Justin Hollins majorly underrated? Hollins excelled in the NFL combine and impressed in the East-West Shrine Bowl, earning defensive MVP honors. He's projected to be a mid round selection, but could also be the first Duck off the board.
Any team that has a need for young, dependable and versatile safeties, will like Ugo Amadi. Amadi makes up for his less than ideal size with his speed, ability to affect the game and make plays on the ball. He's projected as a late round pick.
Tony Brooks James got his chance to impress NFL scouts at Oregon's Pro Day after not receiving an invite to the NFL Combine. The Oregon runnng back recorded a 4.17, 20-yard shuttle, third among running backs, and a 7.2 second three-cone performance, placing him 10th out of 16 running backs who participated in the Combine. Brooks-James had 57 carries for 306 yards and 21 kickoff returns for 548 yards at UO before sitting out of the Redbox Bowl with a left knee injury.
Oregon star Ugo Amadi has pre-draft visits withthe Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, according to the former Oregon star.
The best fit for the 2018 Lombardi Award winner may be the Bears, as safety Adrian Amos’ departure is the biggest gap currently on the Chicago roster. Amadi’s versatility would be a huge asset for Chicago, who also lost slot corner Bryce Callahan. Amadi shined in the quasi-nickel role at Oregon, making him a very attractive pick for the Bears.
Also, the New York Giants have a need for young and versatile safeties and Amadi fits the bill.
"It's going to be a huge blessing to able to just get an opportunity to play at the next level," Amadi said. "It's something I worked my whole life to get to. Next step will be to work even harder to gain the trust and respect from my teammates to be that guy and come in and dominate early."
At Oregon, he was the Duck to do it all; playing cornerback, safety and returning punts. His success is tangible; As a senior he became the first FBS player since 2015 and first Pac-12 player since 2007 with two pick-6s and a punt return for a touchdown in the same season.
Amadi's not afraid of undercutting breaking routes to make big plays and he's showed he’s a threat to take it the distance. Over his final two seasons, the ball hawk amassed six interceptions, highlighted by three pick-6s, and forced four fumbles.
Amadi’s special teams success makes him an even more appealing day three pick.
The Nashville native's favorite team growing up was of course, the Tennessee Titans. To play for the Titans and be once again teammates with former Duck Marcus Mariota is the hope for Amadi. He models his game after Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, who is known for being versatile and tough, with a lot of playmaking ability.
Amadi began to open NFL executives’ eyes at the Combine. There are few positions where the 40-yard dash is as important as in the secondary, and Amadi recorded a solid 4.52 dash time. The 5-foot-10, 197-pound safety's quickness is a huge strength to prove he can stay stride for stride on vertical routes.
His wingspan measured 77-1/8-inches, which impressed considering his height. His bench press also was a highlight, Amadi finished with 18 reps, tying for seventh out of 21 safeties and eighth out of 51 players including corners and all other defensive backs to lift at the Combine.
I firmly believe Amadi will not go undrafted. Despite his less than ideal size, the senior was one of the best defensive players in the Pac-12 Conference last season, playing in all 51 games throughout his four-year career at Oregon. He also has strong leadership abilities that will shine in interviews.