Oregon vs Arizona: Most Electric NFL Prospects to Watch for in Pac-12 Clash

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IINovember 23, 2013

Nov 16, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws the ball against the Utah Utes at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks won 44-21. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats will be taking on the Oregon Ducks in a Pac-12 clash, and while the game itself likely won't be very close, there are a number of electric playmakers to watch for that will likely be selected in the NFL draft next May.

The Ducks enter this game as the No. 5 team in the BCS rankings with a 9-1 record and the top spot in the Pac-12 North thanks to a 6-1 conference record.  Meanwhile, the Wildcats are just 3-4 in the conference with an overall record of 6-4, losing their last two games against UCLA and Washington State.

As I said earlier, this game probably won't be close, but there is some top-tier NFL talent in this game.  Below is a look at a few prospects to watch for, breaking them down and projecting which round they will be taken in during the draft.


De'Anthony Thomas, OW, Oregon

As one of the most electric players in college football during the 2012 season, this year hasn't exactly gone as planned for De'Anthony Thomas.  

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Running back De'Anthony Thomas #6 of the Oregon Ducks runs the ball in the first half in front of linebacker James Vaughters #9 of the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 7, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.  (Phot
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Thomas has missed four games this season due to injury, and that has kept him from being as explosive of a player this year.  So far, he's put up 558 yards and eight touchdowns on offense while adding another touchdown on a kick return.  The numbers were much more impressive in 2012, as he had 16 offensive touchdowns and 1,146 total yards.

At 5'9'' and 176 pounds, Thomas is going to be one of the smaller players on the field at the next level.  However, he has some incredibly top-end speed and shows ridiculous bust with the ball in his hands.  He's a versatile player that can make plays both through the air and on the ground, and teams could use him much like the Green Bay Packers use Randall Cobb.

The real question will be if Thomas can be a go-to guy that can get 15-20 touches a game and still be an effective player for 16 games.  However, with how much many big plays he's been able to make in college, he will likely be taken by some team late in the first round or early in the second.


Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 07:  Ka'Deem Carey #25 of the Arizona Wildcats scores a touchdown against the UNLV Rebels during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Arizona won 58-13.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

He was first in the nation with 1,929 rushing yards and fourth with 23 touchdowns in 2012, and while he hasn't put up the same numbers this year, Ka'Deem Carey is still one of the best running backs in the country.

On just 242 carries, Carey has run for 1,353 yards and 12 touchdowns, putting up 5.6 yards per attempt.  He's run for at least 119 yards in every game that he's played in, including an impressive 232-yard performance against Utah.

Few running backs have the kind of vision and quickness that Carey possesses out of the backfield.  He's only 5'10'' and 196 pounds, but he does a great job of making defenders miss and breaking through to the second level and consistently makes huge plays.

While he isn't the fastest player coming out of the backfield, Carey has all of the tools you want to see out of a one-cut kind of running back, and he'll be one of the first running backs taken in the draft, likely in the second round.


Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

There are so many potential NFL quarterbacks that will be in the draft in May, but Marcus Mariota may very well be one of the best out of a very talented group of passers.

The numbers don't tell the whole story for prospects, but they're pretty excellent with Mariota.  He's completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,819 yards, 25 touchdowns and a whopping zero interceptions.  He's also added another 477 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground, making him one of the most productive players in college football at the quarterback position.

Some are quick to write off Mariota as a passer due to the scheme he plays in and the fact that he's a dual-threat player, but those people need to focus more on watching how he throws.  He has some very impressive arm strength and zips the ball out with ease.  His accuracy can be inconsistent at times, but for the most part Mariota has solid ball placement and can make impressive throws while on the move.

The fact that Mariota can take off and make plays with his legs as well is certainly a bonus.  Keep in mind that he's only just turned 20 years old, and with his incredible upside he could easily be a top-10 pick if he decides to go pro after this season.