Ducks cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. (4) warms up. Oregon Ducks football takes on the Montana Grizzlies at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on Sept. 14, 2019. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

All four of Oregon’s draft-eligible juniors elected to forgo the NFL Draft in a press conference late Monday morning. Defensive tackles Austin Faoliu and Jordon Scott, as well as defensive backs Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham Jr., will return for their senior years. 

"We felt this decision needed to be done together," Graham said. 

While the prospects certainly could have been drafted, the NFL Draft committee advised a majority of them to return to school in order to boost their stock.

With all four returnees, the Oregon defense under defensive coordinator Andy Avalos could be even more dangerous in 2020. Scott, who finished the year with 32 tackles, and Faoliu, who tallied 39 tackles and two sacks, will continue to anchor the interior of a stout defensive line. 

Meanwhile on the back end, the Ducks are putting together one of the deepest secondaries in the nation. Lenoir and Graham will likely remain the starters at each outside corner position. They’ll be joined by Brady Breeze, Nick Pickett, Verone McKinley III, Jevon Holland, DJ James, Jamal Hill, Mykael Wright and Trikweze Bridges, as well as true freshmen Dontae Manning and Luke Hill, among others. 

The quartet will provide bountiful leadership on what looks on paper to be a relatively youthful group. Their knowledge and experience should help vault the Ducks’ defense to new heights in 2020 in the unit’s second year under Avalos.

Shane Hoffmann is a sports editor and writer primarily covering the Ducks football and basketball beats. Shane is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and came to the University of Oregon in 2018.