Darron Thomas Declares for the NFL, USC’s Rose Bowl Hopes Shoot Up?


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Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas has decided to forgo his senior season, declaring for the NFL Draft. Thomas was 23-3 as the Ducks’ quarterback, with losses to Auburn, LSU and USC, despite winning two Pac-12 Titles and a Rose Bowl. News of the declaration came from Rob Mosesley via Twitter:

But what kind of draft stock does Thomas even have in the NFL? He’s not a pro-style QB and probably has more of a chance to be the next Antwaan Randel El or Brad Smith than being the next Vince Young. He’s not as talented as Young, but faster, which hints at a move towards a specialty position for Thomas.

More analysis on how it affects the Oregon Ducks and the Pac-12 conference, after the jump.

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For the Ducks, while losing your best running back and starting quarterback might sound crippling, remember that the Ducks run a dynamic system offense. The Ducks replaced Dennis Dixon pretty quickly with Jeremiah Masoli, and immediately replaced him with Darron Thomas. There wasn’t a drop off before, and so now the Ducks will lean on Bryan Bennett, who according to Joey Kaufman, looks like a solid replacement.

Despite Bennett being a predominantly pro-style quarterback, the Ducks have blended the two styles before (see Kellen Clemons), and until Chip Kelly completely his offensive genius tag, there’s no reason to believe that the Ducks can’t be a Top 10 team next season. Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas will easily fill the void left my LaMichael James, so Bennett will be forced into a pressure chamber at the helm of the Ducks offense.

Oregon is still the favorite for the Pac-12 North, and until Washington knocks them off their perch, Cal disproves the belief that Jeff Tedford coaches underachievers and Stanford debunks the thought that they’re done without Luck, it’s the Ducks’ division to lose.

In terms of the Pac-12 Conference as a whole, it’s got to improve the chances of USC reaching the Rose Bowl. The Ducks haven’t a tad slower without Thomas and James, and despite winning in Eugene back in November, the Trojans have always struggled with fast spread-option quarterbacks. A change to Bryan Bennett, along with the USC secondary becoming a strength in 2012, should make the Trojans solid favorites when the Ducks invade the Coliseum on November 3rd.