In a surprising move, Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas announced he would skip his senior season at Oregon and will enter the NFL draft.
Oregonian columnist John Canzano writes that Thomas left because he knew there was no guarantee about playing time as a senior. From his column ...
Thomas must believe he needs to get out now.
Let's back up. Thomas has been told he's a star from the moment he arrived on campus. He's never separated his own career success from NFL draft lock LaMichael James. And Thomas, 23-3 as a starter at Oregon and winner of the Rose Bowl, has been surrounded for months by sycophants telling him how wonderful, talented and one-of-a-kind he is. After all, he set single-season (33) and career (66) school records for touchdown passes at a college that once had Dan Fouts, Joey Harrington, Kellen Clemens and Chris Miller. And Thomas has swallowed the thing whole.
Also, down deep, Thomas knows backup Bryan Bennett is hungry, has more upside than he, and will push him for playing time next season. Coach Chip Kelly doesn't make playing-time promises. The competition starts over this spring, so there's some risk in Thomas coming back for another season.
James declares for the NFL draft, along with exiled former teammate Cliff Harris. Fellow running back Kenjon Barner also seriously explored turning pro, too, before announcing he'd return for another season with the Ducks. And you might imagine -- talent-wise -- which of those former teammates Thomas views himself as more closely aligned with.
Is Thomas a fool? Maybe. But what we're seeing here is a guy who's decided to get out before he's beat out. There's some logic there. Also, he doesn't want to be left behind by his pals, James and Harris. Also, Thomas has a pack of "advisers" telling him he's ready for the next level.
While there are areas of Thomas' game that might get improvement from another season in college, he must know, down deep, that Bennett has better tools and more eligibility.
Some are still hoping that Thomas wakes up today and changes his mind. But I suspect Thomas knows that if he's going to realize his dream of playing in the NFL someday, he needs to try something new to get there. One more season in Kelly's offense and, best case, we'll have the same questions about his accuracy, consistency, arm strength and whether he's really a star, or just playing in an offense that gives people video-game statistics.
Worse case, Bennett beats him out.NFL draft guru Rob Rang was pretty blunt about Thomas' decision and challenges he faces ahead.
Speaking of NFL Draft ... Alameda Ta'amu and Senio Kelemete have been invited to the NFL combine. Rang has the full list. It doesn't include juniors. But I'm sure Chris Polk will get an invite. Jermaine Kearse was not invited. But I talked to him briefly the other day and he's headed to California to work with a trainer.
And here's Rang's full prospect rankings ... Ta'amu is the highest Husky at No. 49, while Polk is 55th.
We will have Eric Williams of the TNT there at the combine to provide updates for the blog.
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