With National Signing Day in the rearview mirror, Oregon’s on-the-field focus goes to the 2018 season. Spring practices are right around the corner, meaning we will get our first look at the 2018 Ducks shortly. The team will play their spring game on Saturday, April 28.
The Ducks lost some really talented players on the offensive side of the ball: running back Royce Freeman, tackle Tyrell Crosby and wide receiver Charles Nelson among them. The depth chart figures to change a bit, but the Ducks return a lot of talented players as well.
Here’s an early guess at the depth chart heading into the 2018 season, including 2018 signees who will enroll early.
Starter: Justin Herbert, Jr.
Reserves: Braxton Burmeister, So.; Demetri Burch, RFr.; Tyler Shough, TFr.
Notes: The Ducks are pretty set at QB for the 2018 season as Herbert returns. The rising junior is widely considered to be one of the best signal-callers in the country and could potentially be a first round pick in the NFL draft whenever he decides to enter. If Herbert goes down again, as he did in 2017 due to a broken collarbone, the Ducks will likely turn to Burmeister, who was Herbert’s replacement last season. Though he struggled as a true freshman, the experience of starting against Pac-12 teams should help his development going forward.
Starter: Tony Brooks-James, Sr.
Reserves: Darrian Felix, So.; CJ Verdell, RFr.; Cyrus Habibi-Likio, RFr.; Jamal Elliott, TFr.
Notes: The Ducks are suddenly a little thin at the running back position with the departure of Freeman, the all-time leading rusher in Oregon history. Brooks-James is a capable starter and has the speed to really hurt teams. Felix should get a lot of carries in 2018 and could be a breakout star. 4-star back Jamal Elliott is expected to enroll early and could find the field as a true freshman.
Starter: George Moore, Jr.
Reserves: Brady Aiello, Jr.
Notes: The former No. 1 JUCO offensive lineman in the country gets the first shot at replacing Tyrell Crosby. Oregon’s offensive line is a position of strength heading into 2018 and could be one of the best units in the Pac-12, if not the country. If Moore isn’t able to cut it at tackle, the Ducks may look to Aiello or Calvin Thockmorton to slide over to left tackle.
Starter: Shane Lemieux, Jr.
Reserves: Sam Poutasi, So, Penei Sewell, TFr.
Notes: Lemieux is a solid lineman and should start, but watch out for Sewell. The incoming true freshman was Oregon’s top recruit in the 2018 class and may find a place at left or right guard during his freshman season. He is a star.
Starter: Jake Hanson, Jr.
Reserves: Alex Forsyth, RFr.; Ryan Walk, RFr.
Notes: Hanson started all 13 games at center for the Ducks in 2017. He’s as solid as they get.
Starter: Jacob Capra, So.
Reserves: Brady Aiello, Jr.; Charlie Landgraf, Jr.; Cody Shear, RFr.; Penei Sewell, TFr.
Notes: Capra played in six games for the Ducks in 2017 but this figures to be a spot where Aiello or Sewell may play. Capra will likely get the first shot, but this position could be up for grabs.
Starter: Calvin Throckmorton, Jr.
Reserves: Logan Bathke, So.
Notes: Throckmorton is an excellent offensive lineman and will lock down the right side for Oregon. If Moore struggles at left tackle during spring or fall practices, it would not be a surprise to see those two players switch sides.
Starter: Jacob Breeland, Jr.
Reserves: Cam McCormick, So.; Ryan Bay, Jr.; Spencer Webb, TFr.
Notes: Breeland led the Ducks with 5 touchdown receptions last season and figures to be a big part of the offense in 2018. McCormick struggled last year but is a talented player in a thin group. Webb could be a difference maker right away, depending on how he adjusts to the college game. He is one of the best tight ends in the 2018 recruiting class.
Wide Receiver 1
Starter: Dillon Mitchell, Jr.
Reserves: Daewood Davis, RFr.; Darrian McNeal, So
Notes: Mitchell led the Ducks in receptions and yards in 2017 and figures to be the top target in a thin group of receivers. Oregon needs Mitchell to become a dynamic force down the field in 2018.
Wide Receiver 2
Starter: Johnny Johnson III, So.
Reserves: Brenden Schooler, Jr, Jalen Hall, TFr.
Notes: Johnson caught 21 passes as a true freshman last year, which ranked fourth on the team. Schooler was one of Herbert’s favorite targets early in the season. Hall, a 4-star recruit, has the chance to be a true No. 1 wide receiver at Oregon. Whether or not he makes an impact as a freshman remains to be seen.
Starter: Taj Griffin, Sr.
Reserves: Jaylon Redd, So.; Malik Lovette, Jr.
Notes: With the absence of Charles Nelson, Oregon needs to get Griffin the ball. He is a dynamic playmaker who can do amazing things in the open field. Redd saw the field sparingly as a freshman but proved to be very dynamic as an open field runner. He could end up being one of Oregon’s best receiver in 2018.
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