Back in the 2017 class, Oregon football landed two top-100 cornerbacks, and both combined to create a solid unit in the defensive backfield for a couple of years.
Now Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham Jr. are moving on to the NFL draft and could both be selected anywhere from the fourth to the seventh rounds this weekend. It was nice to have two guys come in around the same time and dominate the defensive backfield together on opposite sides of the field, but now Oregon has the same type of situation brewing.
Mykael Wright came in with the 2019 recruiting class as one of the top 50 recruits in the country and Dontae Manning followed in 2020 as the No. 31 overall prospect, listed as a five-star.
Right now, Manning is behind DJ James on the projected depth chart because of the experience the sophomore has, but if he finishes spring on a high note and has subsequently strong summer and fall camps, he could be in that starting group alongside Wright.
That would give Oregon its highest ceiling on the defensive side of the ball.
Manning, Wright should be Oregon football’s CB combo
I have nothing against James, but he doesn’t quite have the same talent as Manning. He has the experience necessary to be a starter at a Power Five program, but Oregon would be at its best defensively if Wright and Manning were the starters at cornerback.
James has played in 13 career games to Manning’s one and he has 26 total tackles and two pass breakups. He’s not exactly lighting up the stat sheet, but he’s been solid when he’s on the field. It’s time for the coaching staff to give Manning a real shot at the starting job and he probably has been given an opportunity this spring and we’ll see how it pays off in the spring game.
Oregon had a good duo in Lenoir and Graham Jr. and both are NFL prospects but Manning and Wright could take this defense to the next level.
Imagine the two former top-50 cornerbacks starting on opposite sides of the field in 2021. Both have All-American talent.
The rest of the Pac-12 could be in trouble.