Four Ducks see their dreams come true on final day of NFL Draft
When it comes to having the best day of your life, former Oregon safety Ugochukwu Amadi got his last Saturday.
Amadi was the first Ducks to be taken in the 2019 NFL Draft when the Seattle Seahawks took him in the fourth round, the 132nd pick overall. He posted on Instagram introducing his newborn son to the world.
“They want me to do everything. Nickel, corner, safety, special teams, everything. Swiss Army knife,” Amadi said of coach Pete Carroll and his staff. “My versatility is my strength.”
Versatility was definitely Amadi’s strength while at Oregon, spending his first two seasons at cornerback before his final two were spent at safety. He also emerged as a dangerous punt returner and playmaker, amassing three touchdowns last season despite not playing a single snap on offense.
The 5-foot-9 safety showcased his ability to drop down in the slot and cover big tight ends, a huge boost to his stock considering the play of the NFL these days.
Justin Hollins, the MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, was the next Oregon player chosen — being taken by the Denver Broncos with the 156th pick in the fifth round. It’s the second consecutive season Denver has taken a Duck, choosing running back Royce Freeman last year in the third round.
Hollins is a 6-foot-5, 242-pound outside linebacker who can either use his speed to rush the quarterback or his athleticism to drop back in coverage. Still needing to add weight to his frame, Hollins projects as an instant contributor on special teams as well.
“It feels great being under the wing of those great players,” Hollins said of playing with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, Denver’s star pass-rushing duo. “(Miller’s) a potential (Pro Football) Hall-of-Famer — being able to learn from those guys is going to elevate my game. It’s just impressive.”
It took until the seventh round, but Oregon’s record-setting wide receiver Dillon Mitchell finally came off the board when the Minnesota Vikings took him with the 239th pick in the seventh round.
“I have a lot of people to prove wrong,” Mitchell, who set Oregon’s single season receiving record, said. “I didn’t really know where I was going to go. I’m just real excited to have the feeling of being drafted and having the opportunity.”
Two picks later and Jalen Jelks, Oregon’s star defensive end, finally heard his name called when the Dallas Cowboys took him. Jelks entered the season as Oregon’s most pro-ready prospect but saw his stock dramatically when a lackluster season led to questions about his effectiveness as the pro level.
“Rated very high on our board and we’re down to the end of the draft and he’s still sitting there like a blinking light,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said of Jelks. “There’s so much to like about this guy. He’s big, he’s long, he’s athletic and he plays with a relentless spirit.”
Running back Tony Brooks-James and tight end Kano Dillon didn't get drafted but signed as undrafted free agents with the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins, respectively.