Northwest Players drafted in NFL Draft

This past weekend’s NFL draft allowed for several players from northwest universities to be drafted. We are going to do a quick profile recap of each draftee and what they bring to the table for their teams.

Draft by the numbers:

  1. Oregon – 6
  2. Oregon State – 2
  3. Boise State – 2
  4. Washington State – 1

Round 1 (17) – Patriots – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Christian Gonzalez gives a rebuilding Patriots an explosive tool to their secondary that was 3rd in the NFL in INT (19) and led in INT Ret TDs (5). This team was also 9th in the NFL in Pass Yds Allowed/Att at 6.2. Adding Gonzalez to returning starters Jonathan Jones, Jalen Mills, Kyle Dugger, and Adrian Phillips, gives Bill Belichick some weapons to deploy on pass offenses this coming season.

Round 2 (42) – Packers – Luke Musgrave, TD, Oregon State

With the Aaron Rodgers era over in Green Bay, Jordan Love is getting a potential first round talent to throw to in the pick of Musgrave. After an injury shortened season at Oregon State, he will have a lot of catching up and conditioning to do to compete in the NFL in the trenches. Many scouts think he needs to work on his run game to become a true starter in the NFL.

Round 3 (80) – Panthers – DJ Johnson, Edge, Oregon

DJ Johnson is probably the best athlete so far in this class of Northwest players, having played Edge, Outside Linebacker and Tight End at Oregon as coaches asked him to switch positions a few times. The problem here is this might have prevented him from realizing his true potential at any position. Due to that, he might be playing quite a bit of catch-up, especially when it comes to the run game as a lot of scouts feel he needs to work on his flexibility and his ability to recognize the run. DJ has potential, but will he be able to realize it is another tale to weave.

Round 3 (85) – Chargers – Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State

The lone player drafted out of Washington State, Daiyan Henley, will bring the Chargers some help at the linebacker position, but more than likely that of a top backup and special teams player. This is due to his inexperience at the position as he only started to play linebacker the end of 2019. While he has excelled to become All-Mountain West (2021) and All-Pac-12 (2022), the instincts at the position might be his limiting level that keeps him from being a starter in the NFL.

Round 5 (148) – Bears – Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

The 3rd pick out of Oregon, should give the Bears a good role player to use in the backup ranks and special teams. During Noah’s freshmnan year he was Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year and started all three years at Oregon. His lack of good pursuit speed and anticipation skills for change in plays will keep him from elevating to start in the NFL. He will play well in the middle of the action but once outside of the middle, that’s where the trouble begins.

Round 6 (183) – Broncos – JL Skinner, S, Boise State

This is a steal of a pick by Denver because a lot of people had Skinner going as high as Rounds 3. He was hurt by not being able to compete in the Combine due to a pectoral issue in February, which subsequently hurt his draft stock as he tumbled clear to the 6th round. Skinner has good instincts, especially with the run. What is going to hurt him is he needs a little bulk as he could be a target of bigger wide receivers in blocking schemes. He should be able to help a Bears team that was in the bottom 10 in YPC (4.9) and last in Yds/Att (7.7) in the NFL.

Round 6 (199) – Ravens – Malaesala Aunavae-Laulu, OT, Oregon

Simply said, this pick is a project for the Ravens. Malaesala’s first year will probably be spent on the practice squad while he works on his skills to move up the roster to a true backup, but not sure much more.

Round 6 (200) – Chargers – Scott Matlock, DT, Boise State

Scott Matlock was a bit of the story for Boise State as he is a hometown player (Homedale, ID) who went to his local university (Boise State) and to be drafted in the NFL. The 2-time All-Mountain West 2nd Defense Team player is another project pick where he has potential upside but will at best be a backup, and probably practice squad the 1st year. It’s possible he could be on special teams as well. His biggest issue is he has the potential to be dominated by good blockers.

Round 7 (243) – Giants – Jordon Riley, DT, Oregon

Jordon Riley is an intriguing pick, if I were to look at his numbers from 2022 I would not have placed him on a draft board due to the limited playing time he had (331 snaps on defense and 70 on special teams). Potential for special teams at best is the upside with Jordon at this point. I know you can never have too much help on defense, but I think New York is trying to find lightning in a bottle with this pick.

Round 7 (252) – Bills – Alex Austin, CB, Oregon State

The second pick out of Oregon State, Alex Austin, can help out the Bills some in a reserve or special teams role. His speed in coverage and run defense is his biggest weakness (4.55 – 40-yd Dash, 4.33 – Shuttle). An NFL rusher getting to the second level could own him in the open field.

Round 7 (257) – Broncos – Alex Forsyth, C, Oregon

Many people felt Alex would be a undrafted free agent so he drafted higher to be technical. His limitations right now in the NFL is he needs to gain some core strength if he is going to battle in the trenches. He does have good hands on the inside. Projections has him as a universal backup on the lineup which I feel is an accurate prediction for Alex.

Overall, the northwest players went in the round they were expected to go. As always, success will be determined by the amount of work and training they put into themselves to achieve their ceilings and beyond.

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