The Oregon Ducks had more players selected during the 2023 NFL Draft than they have in any draft since 2009.
In total, six Ducks heard their names called throughout the course of seven rounds. For a program that had just one draftee in 2021, the weekend served as a major victory for Dan Lanning and his staff.
Only four schools had more players selected this year — Georgia (10), Alabama (10), Michigan (9), and TCU (8).
The ScoopDuck staff is taking a look at the possible replacements for Oregon’s draftees in 2023.
Replacement: Khyree Jackson
In his lone season with the Ducks, Christian Gonzalez performed like one of the top cornerbacks in the nation.
Now, Oregon has the difficult task of replacing him. The program is stocked with returning cornerback talent; Trikweze Bridges started at boundary corner last season, and Dontae Manning and Jahlil Florence are also back after strong 2022 campaigns.
But the most likely replacement for Gonzalez at field corner at this point is Alabama transfer Khyree Jackson. At 6-foot-3, 197 pounds, he fits a physical profile similar to that of Gonzalez and could be poised to break out during his first season in Eugene.
Replacement: Jordan Burch
There aren’t many college football players who are as physically gifted as former Oregon EDGE DJ Johnson. Prior to the start of the 2022 season, Johnson landed at No. 4 on Bruce Feldman’s “freaks list.” The senior led the Ducks with 7.5 sacks last fall and
And yet, Lanning and DC Tosh Lupoi may have found an upgrade at Jack linebacker during the offseason.
Jordan Burch, a former 5-star signee who starred at South Carolina last season, enrolled at UO for the winter term and generated plenty of buzz during spring ball. Last season, Burch ranked second in the SEC with 29 quarterback hurries.
Alabama star Will Anderson, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, was the only player to generate more.
Replacement: Jestin Jacobs
For the past three seasons, Noah Sewell has served as the heart and soul of Oregon’s defense.
With the former 5-star signee now set to join the Chicago Bears, Oregon is in the process of finding its new starting money linebacker.
While Jamal Hill and Connor Soelle both had strong springs for the Ducks, the most likely candidate at this point is former Iowa standout Jestin Jacobs. He was full-go this spring for the Ducks after suffering a major leg injury with the Hawkeyes last fall and could be set for a big season alongside starting Mac linebacker Jeffrey Bassa.
Replacement: Ajani Cornelius
Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu was a three-year starter for the Ducks who played the best season of his college career in 2022. The Ducks’ starting right tackle allowed just two sacks and 11 quarterback pressures last fall.
During the offseason, the Ducks immediately identified his replacement by adding former Rhode Island standout Ajani Cornelius.
Last season, Pro Football Focus issued Cornelius an overall grade of 90.1, which ranked third among FCS tackles. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound junior was one of the more highly-coveted players in the portal last offseason and could soon see his name start to pop up on NFL Draft boards in 2023.
Replacement: Popo Aumavae
During his lone season with the Ducks, Jordon Riley made some big contributions as the program’s starting nose tackle.
But when Riley transferred in from Nebraska in 2022, he was not Oregon’s projected starter. Popo Aumavae, who earned first-team all-Pac-12 honors in 2021, was expected to anchor the Ducks’ defensive line. However, he suffered a season-ending injury during fall camp.
Aumavae is fully healthy once again and will be back for his sixth college season.
For the past three seasons, Alex Forsyth has been Oregon’s starting center and its emotional leader.
With the three-time all-conference selection having exhausted his eligibility, the Ducks have two strong candidates vying for their starting center job. Marcus Harper and Jackson Powers-Johnson both repped at center and guard during spring ball.
Both players are going to be integral for the Ducks next season. But at this point, it’s too early to tell which will start at center. Harper was injured during the last two weeks of fall camp and did not play in the spring game.
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