2009 NFP Scouting Series: Oregon

Dale ThortonCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:   Runningback LeGarrette Blount #9 of the University of Oregon Ducks celebrates his touchdown with teammate Jaison Williams #4 during his team's 42-31 win over the Oklahoma State University Cowboys in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

This summer, the National Football Post is breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.

The Oregon Ducks feature an impressive group of senior prospects and look like the one team capable of competing with the USC Trojans for the Pac-10 title in 2009.


LeGarrette Blount: No. 9, RB, 6'2", 240

A big, thickly-built back who displays impressive body control and athleticism for someone his size. Exhibits the short-area quickness to make a man miss in a phone booth and accelerate into daylight. Has a good first step and gets up to top-end speed quickly but lacks much of a second gear in the open field.

Blount possesses the balance and footwork to step through tacklers in the secondary and is very tough to bring down in the open field. He keeps his legs pumping through contact, and defenders simply don’t like to tackle him once he gets going. He also creates a lot of long runs because of his combination of athleticism and ability to break arm tackles on all areas of the field.

Showcases good vision and is very fluid at picking his way between the tackles and bursting through creases inside. However, he plays with a high pad level and consistently gets too upright when attacking the line of scrimmage. Therefore, he needs to do a better job running behind his pads and maintaining a lower base when changing directions.

Impression: A big, physically imposing back who has the vision and foot quickness to successfully carry the load in the NFL. But he runs too high and will never maximize his tremendous athletic ability at the next level unless he learns to play with a lower pad level.

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Ed Dickson: No. 83, TE, 6'5", 243

A big, flexible target who showcases the lateral quickness off the snap to slip the press and cleanly get into his routes. He is an explosive receiver who gets on top of defenses quickly and has an ability to make plays down the seam. Plucks the ball well with his hands and displays some wiggle after the catch.

However, he isn’t sharp out of his routes and has trouble breaking down and staying compact with his footwork when asked to change directions. He also has a tendency to float down the field when adjusting to the football and needs to do a better job gathering himself and attacking the play at the highest point. He is more of a straight-line athlete who has the explosion to simply stride past defenders in order to create separation.

While he isn’t overly physical at the point of attack and doesn’t block with much leverage, he does a nice job extending his arms and has the athletic ability to stay in front of his man. He showcases good effort blocking down the field and has the ability to consistently reach and seal defenders at the second level.

Impression: An intriguing athlete who will definitely be able to create some mismatches at the next level. He can be as good as he wants to but needs to polish some raw spots in his game.


Will Tukuafu: No. 39, DE, 6'4", 272

Tukuafu lacks a great first step and gets too high out of his stance, which negates his burst off the edge. He looks rigid and struggles playing with a low base in most areas of his game. However, he exhibits good natural strength on contact and does a nice job lowering his pad level into blocks on the outside.

He is more of a blue-collar pass rusher who has some power on his bull rush and gets most of his sacks when quarterbacks flee the pocket to his side. He displays good straight-line speed for his size and is effective when asked to stunt and/or chase plays away from his frame. He uses his hands well and has the ability to disengage with his swat move and get into the backfield.

Impression: A try-hard defensive lineman who’s willing to do all the dirty work up front. I could see an NFL position coach falling in love with his work rate and giving him a shot on the practice squad.

Walter Thurmond III: No. 6, CB, 6'0", 180

Does a great job sitting into his stance when asked to press and possesses the body control to mirror receivers laterally and get a good bump on them off the line. Exhibits smooth, compact footwork in his drop and consistently keeps his feet under him. However, he gets a bit impatient at times when asked to bail off the line and has a tendency to fall out of his stance too quickly and show receivers the coverage before the snap.

He displays an explosive first step and does a great job keeping his hips down and closing on the football. He takes good angles in coverage and has the length to consistently get his hands on the play. He is also very instinctive and does a great job locating the ball quickly when he gets his head around and adjusting his body to break on the pass.

He possesses a funky stance in off-coverage in which he stands a bit straight-legged before dropping his hips down on the snap into his backpedal. However, he does a great job staying in his drop and not opening up too early. He is very fluid out of his breaks and does well staying balanced and cleanly changing directions. He is very difficult to separate from and gets back up to speed instantly when asked to transition out of his breaks.

Impression: The best senior corner I’ve seen this year. Looks ready to man a starting role in the NFL.

T.J. Ward: No. 2, S, 5'11", 201

A violent hitter who plays with absolute reckless abandon for his body and isn’t afraid to mix it up in the secondary. Exhibits a good first step out of his breaks and closes quickly on the play. He generates a lot of power for a man his size and has the ability to separate the ball from a man on contact. Isn’t much of a wrap-up tackler, although he consistently takes good angles and knows how to put his hat on the ball carrier.

He displays solid instincts in the secondary and reads his run/pass keys quickly. Meanwhile, he showcases clean footwork when asked to flip his hips and run, and he consistently is able to get good jumps on the ball. However, he lacks a real second gear and doesn’t display ideal range in the secondary. Plays at one speed and isn’t a guy who can make up for a false step.

Impression: A throwback-type safety who loves to launch himself at the play and create collisions on contact. He isn’t a great straight-line athlete, but he possesses clean footwork and reads and reacts quickly to plays.

Be sure to check out all my breakdowns at Nationalfootballpost.com.

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