With the bowl season coming to an end, many of the nation’s top juniors will soon announce whether they will skip their senior years to enter the NFL Draft. Many of the top programs in the country have to hope that some of their young playmakers come back for one more season to be senior leaders in a final campaign. For the Oregon Ducks, they’ll be without one of their defensive leaders as junior defensive back Terrance Mitchell has announced he will declare for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Over the last three seasons, Mitchell has started 38 of 40 games over the last three seasons since working his way into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 2011. He became an All-Pac-12 honorable mention team honoree as a sophomore in 2012 as he came into the 2013 season as part of one of the best secondaries in the country. In 2013, he led Oregon with five interceptions and 12 passes defended and will leave Eugene with seven career interceptions and 32 passes defended in his career.
Mitchell combined with fell0w-junior Ifo Ekpre-Olomu to form one of the best shut-down cover tandems in the country over the last two seasons. When Ekpre-Olomu broke into the starting lineup late in 2011, Mitchell had already established himself as a cover-corner so teams tested Ekpre-Olomu in 2012 where he reaped the statistical rewards. This season, teams have avoided Ekpre-Olomu, leading to a great year for Mitchell on the other side.
While he has not been the most highly rated cornerback prospect in this upcoming draft, Mitchell has confidence that he will be able to sell himself to NFL scouts in workouts leading up to the draft. The 6-foot, 189-pound junior can be a physical presence in coverage and has shown a willingness to come up and tackle against the run, finishing 2013 with 59 total tackles. He was a great leader in the secondary for Oregon and his contributions will be sorely missed in 2014.
For Oregon, they have to hope that they don’t also lose Ekpre-Olomu to the NFL this offseason. The All-American corner is one of the higher-rated prospects at the position and could decide to test the waters himself. He has until January 15 to make his final decision, though he has said he is still weighing his options. If Ekpre-Olomu does leave for the NFL, Oregon will end up losing three of its top defensive backs this season with Avery Patterson using the last of his eligibility in 2013.