The Ducks will kick off practice for the 2013 season on Monday, Aug. 5. Over the next two weeks I'll preview each position group, offering my own analysis and projected depth chart, keeping in mind that the team doesn't actually have an official depth chart at this point.
Projected depth chart
SLB: Boseko Lokombo, Sr.; Rahim Cassell, So.; Torrodney Prevot, Fr.; Mike Garrity, Jr.
WLB: Derrick Malone, Jr.; Joe Walker, So.; Brett Bafaro, RFr.; Tyrell Robinson, Fr.
MLB: Tyson Coleman, So.; Rodney Hardrick, Jr.; Isaac Ava, Jr.; Grant Thompson, Jr.; Danny Mattingly, Fr.
DE/OLB: Tony Washington, Jr.; Christian French, So.; Cody Carriger, RFr.; Ryan McCandless, So.
KNOWN QUANTITIES: There's no avoiding it — the Ducks suffered some devastating losses at linebacker. The starters inside last season, Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso, teamed with drop end Dion Jordan to accumulate 226 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2012. Jordan ended up being the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft this spring, Clay joined him in Miami on a free-agent deal and Alonso is expected to be a starter for the Buffalo Bills as a rookie. So, yeah, that's a lot to replace, even if Boseko Lokombo at least gives the Ducks one returning starter here.
The good news is, there are some intriguing candidates to replace them. Start with Tony Washington, who has already developed into a respected leader on the defense, as Jordan was before him. Also on hand are Derrick Malone and Rodney Hardrick, who might have replaced Clay and Alonso inside in the spring had each not been recovering from injury. That led to converted SAM 'backer Tyson Coleman taking reps inside until he suffered a broken foot, and to Rahim Cassell getting a ton of reps in April.
NEW FACES: There are three tiers of additions at linebacker. Brand new as of this summer are prep signees Torrodney Prevot, who will start out at SAM, Tyrell Robinson, who was said to be taking reps inside in workouts this summer, and Danny Mattingly, a big body on the inside. There's JC transfer Joe Walker, who opened some eyes in the spring, like Cassell taking advantage of the injuries at this position. And then there's 2012 redshirts Brett Bafaro and Cody Carriger, who now have a grasp of Oregon's system and will look to earn some playing time in 2013.
TO BE DETERMINED: With Lokombo and Washington seeming like sure bets to start at the outside spots, the big mystery is the identity of the starters inside. Malone has the most experience of the candidates, and Coleman seemed to really make an impression before his injury in the spring, so they top the early projection. But is Coleman really ready to go in August? Assuming Hardrick is healthy, he could easily team with Malone on the inside. And that doesn't account for Walker, or Cassell, who is versatile enough to play outside if necessary. The projection above is one of many, many ways things could play out this preseason. Also worth watching is the continued development of Christian French, who looked great at times but was inconsistent overall in the spring.
ESPN's Pac-12 blog says: We'll see about Oregon's linebackers this fall.
Coming up tomorrow: Defensive backs
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