2021 NFL Draft: Who are the top Oregon Ducks prospects?

The list of top Oregon Ducks 2021 NFL Draft prospects is headlined by the best offensive lineman and best safety in college football. Find out who Oregon intends to send to the draft from PFN draft analyst Neal Driscoll.

Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal has the football program blossoming into a hotbed for NFL talent. Last year, quarterback Justin Herbert was one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. Herbert, linebacker Troy Dye, guard Shane Lemieux, and center Jake Hanson were the four Ducks selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Oregon’s school record for the most players selected in a single draft came in 2009 when six players heard their names called. In 2021, the Oregon Ducks draft prospects form a spectacular group, one that is capable of breaking this school record.

Before we jump into a list of their top 2021 Draft prospects, I must mention other draft-eligible players who very well may have a future of playing on Sundays. They aren’t nearly as coveted as the guys on this list, but safety Brady Breeze, cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., wide receiver Johnny Johnson III, and defensive tackle Jordon Scott are all very talented players that could hear their names called on the last day of the 2021 Draft.

Now, let’s take a dive into the top Oregon Ducks 2021 NFL Draft prospects.

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Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle, Junior (6’6″, 331 pounds)

Not only is Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell the best offensive lineman that is eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft, but he might also just be the best overall prospect. With all due respect for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, we have not seen a more dominant left tackle prospect enter the NFL ranks since Joe Thomas in 2007, which is why he is firmly in the running to be the best overall prospect in this draft class.

Sewell was brilliant in 2019 and his outstanding play led him to being awarded with many accolades, including winning the Outland Trophy and being named to the Associated Press All-American first team.

Sewell possesses the ability to mirror the pass-rushers he faces by utilizing his strong hands, incredibly quick feet and astonishing lateral movement skills. His power and athleticism are elite in every sense of the word. In fact, Pro Football Network’s Matt Valdovinos agrees and uses that exact term to describe Sewell:

“A true generational prospect, Penei Sewell will likely be the best player I have ever evaluated. An elite pass protector and an elite run blocker, Sewell has the chance to become in and be one of the league’s elite as a rookie.”

For his size, Sewell is very athletic and is capable of moving like a tight end. The clip below will highlight Sewell’s athleticism and ability to maul defenders in the running game.

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When the dust settles, Penei Sewell is the top 2021 Oregon Ducks NFL Draft prospect and will be no worse than a top-five selection. Frankly, we haven’t seen a left tackle this good in quite some time. There is little doubt, Sewell will be the first non-quarterback selected in 2021.

Jevon Holland, Safety, Junior (6’1″, 200 pounds)

Left tackle isn’t the only position where an Oregon Duck is best; Jevon Holland is clearly the best safety in the 2021 Draft class. Holland is coming off the heels of a strong 2019 season, where his 66 tackles, four passes defended, four interceptions, and a defensive touchdown led to him being named second-team All-Conference in the Pac-12.

Holland is a dynamic athlete, possessing elite balls skills, as his nine interceptions in the last two seasons would indicate. Against the run, he is aggressive, instinctive, and effective. Also, his ability and versatility to thrive in the slot will add value to his 2021 Draft prospectus.

Related | 2021 NFL Draft: Top-10 safety rankings

Holland’s ball skills are unparalleled in this draft class. The clip below will highlight his ability to diagnose, trigger, and make a play on the football.

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The battle for most versatile defensive back in the 2021 draft class is on between Holland and Ohio State’s Shaun Wade. NFL teams will fall in love with Holland’s versatility and playmaking ability. Ultimately, Holland is a top-25 pick in any draft class and will surely hear his name called on the first day of the 2021 NFL Draft.

CJ Verdell, Running Back, Junior (5’9″,205 pounds)

With headliners such as Travis Etienne (Clemson), Chuba Hubbard (Oklahoma State), and Najee Harris (Alabama), the 2021 running back class has a chance to be special. One player not getting enough love is Oregon’s CJ Verdell.

In 2019, Verdell very productive, toting the rock for 1,220 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. His play earned him second-team All Pac-12 honors.

Verdell is explosive, possessing the ability to take it to the house every time he touches the football. When it comes to traits that NFL scouts seek in a running back, he checks a lot of boxes. He has outstanding speed, runs with vision, and is a tough runner between the tackles. Also, he adds value as a receiver out of the backfield, as he has strong hands and is a coverage mismatch for most linebackers. His size is a double-edged sword, as it hurts him in terms of pass protection, yet it helps him hide behind Oregon’s massive offensive line when carrying the ball.

The clip below is evidence of Verdell’s big-play ability. Since 2018, no running back has more runs of 70-plus yards than CJ Verdell.

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Due to an insanely talented 2021 group and the value of the running back position in today’s NFL, one lucky team is going to be able to steal CJ Verdell in the third round of the 2021 draft. While his size is an obvious concern, he doesn’t run small. In fact, he is one of the toughest runners in all of college football. When it comes to being a fan of CJ Verdell’s NFL future, sign me up.

Deommodore Lenoir, Cornerback, Senior (5’11”, 203 pounds)

When it comes to the cornerback position and the 2021 NFL Draft, the names you will see first are Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and Ohio State’s Shaun Wade, and rightfully so. But don’t sleep on Oregon’s Deommodore Lenoir.

Lenoir, a second-team All Pac-12 winner in 2019, comes off of a strong junior season, where he compiled 47 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and seven passes defended.

Lenoir enters the 2020 season with 27 consecutive starts under his belt, showcasing his experience. In addition to being battle-tested, he is an exceptional tackler. According to Pro Football Focus, Lenoir has missed a mere three tackles in 137 opportunities during the three years he has played at Oregon. Even more impressive, all five of his career interceptions have occurred in Pac-12 conference play.

Related | Farabaugh’s 4-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

Lenoir is a far superior athlete in comparison to his teammate and 2021 cornerback prospect Thomas Graham Jr. Also, Lenoir is more fluid, showcases better instincts, and plays more disciplined than Graham Jr.

Below, you can see a glimpse of Lenoir’s exceptional athleticism, as he runs stride-for-stride with a Washington State wide receiver and picks off a Gardner Minshew pass.

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Lenoir has everything you could want in a modern-day NFL cornerback. Strong ball skills, amazing athleticism, the ability to show up in run support, and impressive fluidity are the traits that stand out on tape when you watch Lenoir. He might not be a household name or a highly-regarded 2021 Draft prospect just yet, but a strong senior season could skyrocket his draft stock.

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