With the season still a little over two months away, all of the talk that’s going on is the release of the Oregon sanctions and those entailed.
Of which I am very satisfied with the outcome.
But I thought I would take this time to distract myself by making some predictions on who I think will be some of the breakout players this season.
What constitutes a breakout player for me? A player that steps up their game from the last season, improves greatly on their stats and makes a significant impact over the course of the season. These could be big name players that will finally bust out, or they could be players you know of but haven’t had the chance to showcase their skill yet. The following are my picks from 10-6, with my 5-1 rankings coming in the following weeks.
10. Derrick Malone – LB
With Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso now graduated. Oregon is going to need a few linebackers to step up and fill the void. While Malone is lighter than Clay, he is three inches taller which will allow him to view the backfield better and make quick adjustments to help stop the run and drop back into pass coverage. Malone has some wheels on him so it will be hard for opposing offensive players to beat him to the edge. He played in almost every game last season, giving him some much needed experience. With openings at the linebacker spot, I expect Malone to step up and make some big plays for Oregon this year. I could imagine his numbers at least doubling up.
9. Hamani Stevens – OL
With Nick Cody graduating, there will be plenty of playing time for Stevens to make an impact. Providing he stays healthy, which is a big concern for O-lineman. At 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, Stevens is a big boy up front that will help the Ducks’ rushing attack. Without a doubt there will be a lot of linemen seeing playing time this season. I just have a feeling that if he can stay healthy, he will be a major piece that Oregon is looking for in their O-line.
8. Keanon Lowe – WR
Last season, Lowe caught 22 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. I expect those numbers to drastically improve. Oregon will be passing the ball more this season, out of Helfrich’s design, not just because Mariota is so dang good.
I think Lowe will be Mariota’s third or fourth favorite option this year. When opposing teams start to focus on players like Josh Huff, Colt Lyerla, De’Anthony, and Bralon Addison; this will open the door for Lowe to catch it and walk it into the end zone.
7. Tony Washington – LB/DE
Tony Washington will more than likely be the player that steps in to the role that Dion Jordan played last season. At 6-3 and 252 pounds, he is a little smaller than Jordan, but has all of the tools needed to be a great pass rusher.
What better player to learn from than Jordan? As far as defensive stats go, I think Washington will have one of the biggest leaps this season. Look for him to go from partially known player, to a stud this season.
6. DeForest Buckner – DE
Buckner was a pleasant surprise last season. We all knew he was good, but didn’t expect him to pick up the defense and be so aggressive so quickly. He is a tall rangy player, but utilizes his length and quickness to get by opposing offensive linemen. He had a great season for a true freshman last year, but this season will be his breakout. After having a year under his belt and some more time in the weight room to put on some pounds, I think he is going to be a beast this year. Combine Buckner, with Taylor Hart, and Arik Armstead. Man, I can’t wait to watch our D-line this season!
That wraps up my 10-6 rankings of players that will have an extra impact this year. I would love to hear some thoughts from the readers as to who you think some top breakout players will be this year. Don’t forget to check back for my Top 5 breakout players of the 2013 season and see if your players made the list.