Media Days Marathon: Draft Questions From The Pac-12
By Ken Scudero
For the past couple years, the Pac-12 has been dominated by Oregon and Stanford. There’s them and then there’s the rest of the conference. USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon State all have had good teams recently but they’ve failed to reach Oregon’s and Stanford’s level. With some exceptional players and a coach named Chip moving on to the professional level, the Pac-12 will look a bit different in 2013, and there are some interesting questions coming out of Friday’s media day. What have we learned?
1. Without Chip Kelly calling the plays at Oregon, will De’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota hurt their draft stock or will they show they can thrive no matter who’s running the offense?
Oregon’s offensive plan will be nearly the same in 2013 as it’s been in past years, but it’s impossible to duplicate something as meticulous as the Ducks' fast-paced, run-and-gun offense when someone different is calling the plays. Mark Helfrich takes over as head coach while offensive coordinator Scott Frost will be calling the plays. Frost has been receivers coach the last four years and called plays in the past during spring practices.
NFL teams will watch to see how Mariota handles himself under a new playcaller. He can improve his draft stock with another great season and if he can really prove his worth as a passer, not just a pistol quarterback.
Thomas is already a proven playmaking threat no matter where he lines up in the Oregon offense. But he can show NFL teams that he’s not just a slot receiver, that he’s a legitimate running back prospect.
Helfrich was asked on Friday how Thomas would be used. He said, “De'Anthony likes the role of wideout, motion guy, movement guy, and we like that, too, to keep him versatile against nickel defenses or whatever defense we happen to be playing against.”
2. Is Stanford the new breeding ground for pro-style quarterbacks?
In 2012, we saw the best quarterback prospect in many years drafted out of Stanford, and after a year in the NFL, we already know he’s the real deal. He’s got all the tools, does Andrew Luck, and the guy taking snaps in 2013 at Stanford looks like a clone of him.
Kevin Hogan has only played in nine college games, starting five of those. He’s undefeated as a starter. Hogan is similar in size to Luck and has a very similar throwing motion. He can even run like Luck and has an arm almost as strong if not equal to Luck's. Hogan is going to be a steal in the third round in next year’s draft.
3. Will Silas Redd finally fulfill his potential and establish himself as the best runner in 2014 draft?
Redd has averaged 5.4 yards a carry in his college career, which consists of two years at Penn State and one at USC. He’s been a good college running back. Redd, though, was considered to be one of the best halfbacks in the nation. Many may still call him that, but he’s never fulfilled the potential that was expected of him.
Redd is definitely a top-5 running back prospect going into the 2014 Draft, and this season is make or break for him. He just had knee surgery and is expected to be healthy for preseason practices. Lane Kiffin will continue calling plays for USC in 2013 and with Matt Barkley gone, the quarterback competition will be on in full force. USC’s below-average performance last year after Barkley's season-ending injury didn’t help Redd’s cause in what could have been a signature season. Instead, he'll have the chance this season to prove he’s more than just an average running back. I believe he will have his best season and that he will be drafted late second/early third round in 2014.