Oregon loses veteran David Paulson, a big play threat with 55 catches and ten TDs over the past two seasons. Sophomore Colt Lyerla, the former 5* recruit with seven catches and five TDs as a freshman appears more than capable to take Paulson's place in the starting lineup. The question is who will back Lyerla up, with three freshmen being the leading candidates.
Redshirt Freshman Christian French was an elite recruit from Iowa. At 6'5", he showed elite speed in the 4'4" 40 range, and has the benefit of having been in the system the longest. True freshman Evan Baylis is in Eugene for spring ball, and has reportedly been impressing there. Pharaoh Brown was one of the best high school tight ends in the country, but won't be in Eugene until fall.
I've heard tight end and running back mentioned in the same breath as far as depth problems, but they are two very different situations. Running back simply has a lack of bodies for a position that is the feature of Oregon's offense, and is also by nature injury-prone. Tight end has a lack of proven depth-Lyerla is the only one who has played in a game-but three players who, when recruited, were considered amongst the most elite tight ends in the country. I have no idea who will win the second spot on the depth chart behind Lyerla. But the advantage of having three 4* tight ends is that it is almost a lock that one of them will work out. It may take some time to figure out which one of the three that will be, but the Ducks will have a lot of blowout wins early to make sure they see plenty of reps.