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
CB: Terrance Mitchell, Jr.; Dior Mathis, Jr.; Stephen Amoako, RFr.; Bronson Yim, So.; Michael Manns, RFr.
CB: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Jr.; Troy Hill, Jr.; Eric Amoako, RFr.; Chris Seisay, Fr.; Bobby Dunn, So.
S: Brian Jackson, Sr; Issac Dixon, So.; Oshay Dunmore, RFr.; Ben Butterfield, Sr.; Juwaan Williams, Fr.
S: Avery Patterson, Sr.; Erick Dargan, Jr.; Reggie Daniels, RFr.; Tyree Robinson, Fr.
KNOWN QUANTITIES: Another position group where the Ducks have an embarrassment of riches, with Ted Miller of ESPN calling this group "probably the best secondary in the nation." Due to John Boyett's premature departure a year ago, Oregon relied on zero seniors for the bulk of 2012, and thus has everybody back in 2013. The headliner is cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The former high school safety got his feet wet at cornerback as a true freshmen in 2011, then became the Ducks' best defensive playmaker as a sophomore, breaking up 20 passes and forcing six fumbles. Even Oregon fans might not have known a year ago what sort of asset the Ducks had on their hands in Ekpre-Olomu. Now, the entire nation does.
But he's far from the only standout in this secondary. A year ago, Terrance Mitchell looked like the premier cornerback for Oregon, and he figures to get plenty of work this season now that Ekpre-Olomu is a known quantity. Behind those two, Troy Hill proved himself a viable starting option six times in 2011, and Dior Mathis is one of the Ducks' fastest players. There's similar talent at safety, where Brian Jackson and Erick Dargan finished 2012 as starters following the knee injury to Avery Patterson, who was on track this spring to be ready to go for 2013.
NEW FACES: As you might expect, some of the most talented athletes in Oregon's 2013 recruiting class find themselves at defensive back to start the fall. Chris Seisay add size to the corner rotation at 6-foot-1, while Tyree Robinson and Juwaan Williams each could have played either offense or defense but is being tried first in the secondary. Right now they look like redshirt candidates initially, but much could change in the coming weeks and months.
TO BE DETERMINED: Primarily, the identity of the starting safeties, although at least three guys — Jackson, Patterson and Dargan — figure to play a ton regardless of who starts. To be determined this spring is whether the likes of Reggie Daniels or Issac Dixon also can crack that rotation. This is also a critical time for 2012 redshirt Oshay Dunmore, Stephen Amoako and Eric Amoako, who haven't yet been as close to playing as their classmate Daniels.
ESPN's Pac-12 blog says: Oregon is in "great shape" at cornerback and "great shape" at safety.
Coming up tomorrow: Special teams
Preseason camp preview: Defensive backs
Release Date: 08/01/2013