Oregon's defense is going through changes as it aims to rebuild a unit that cratered in 2015, but former Ducks star defensive ends are also trying to make their mark in the NFL, hoping to justify their first-round selections.
First, there's Dion Jordan, whom the Miami Dolphins picked third overall in the 2013 draft. It's fair to say Miami hasn't gotten much return on its selection, as Jordan has been underwhelming when on the field and then got suspended for the 2015 season for multiple violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Jordan is trying to earn his team's trust back and get back on the field. First, he has to be reinstated, a decision that should come from commissioner Roger Goodall before the end of July.
"I feel very strongly he will be reinstated without question," Doug Hendrickson, Jordan's agent, told the Miami Herald.
Jordan is owed $600,000 in base salary for 2016 and is due a $1.69 million signing bonus if he’s on the roster on the fifth day of training camp, according to the Herald.
Meanwhile, there's a veritable Ducks alumni gathering going on in San Francisco, where Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner are reuniting not only with coach Chip Kelly but also defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro. Armstead and Buckner are the 49ers' top picks in the past two drafts.
"They've done a really nice job, but it's very difficult to evaluate either line because we don't have pads on," Kelly said during June's mandatory minicamp.
It will be interesting to see how often the former bookends for Oregon's 3-4 scheme are on the field together.
And, while we are on the subject of former Oregon D-linemen, it appears that veteran nose tackle Haloti Ngata is feeling good in his second year with the Detroit Lions after an injury-plagued 2015 season.
“He’s hard to handle because he’s a big, powerful man that can run. We’re getting a sense of that now,’’ Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters last week. “Last year he was a bit hampered. You didn’t quite get to see who he truly can be. You saw it in spurts last year. I think you’re going to see it more consistently this year."