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Jim Leavitt’s Starting 11: Jalen Jelks, Defensive End

Oregon’s defensive lineman working to forget last season

UC Davis v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Jalen Jelks will bookend Henry Mondeaux on the other side of Oregon’s defensive line this season. The junior from Phoenix showed signs of life in 2016-17, but needs to be more consistent this year in a 3-4 defense.

We are just 35 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium. Not to mention, a few hours away from Saturday Night Live in Eugene.

Here are my projections for the defensive and offensive starters of Willie Taggart’s 2017-18 team. Let’s get caught up with what you missed:

JIM LEAVITT’S 11

SAFETY - Brenden Schooler (Monday)

CORNERBACK - Arrion Springs (Tuesday)

LINEBACKER - Troy Dye (Wednesday)

DEFENSIVE TACKLE - Scott Pagano (Thursday)

DEFENSIVE END - Henry Mondeaux (Friday)

STARTING DEFENSIVE END, JALEN JELKS

The Arizona product appeared in eight of the Ducks’ 12 games last year. He recorded 31 total tackles, 21 solo, including 4.0 for loss. He added two sacks, two pass deflections, and an interception. Both of his sacks came on opening day vs UC Davis.

NCAA Football: Oregon Spring Game
Jalen Jelks (left) wants to make a major impact for new head coach Willie Taggart (middle) and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. Last season, the junior tallied 31 tackles in just eight games played. He registered both sacks on opening day vs UC Davis.
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-foot-6, Jelks should knock down more passes this season. He, Mondeaux and Scott Pagano will see their share of double teams, but that should only help the others.

A major concern for the Ducks this season is depth. Oregon has players at every level of the defense but is lacking back-ups for them. Therefore, health will be the No. 1 priority for this team in 2017-18.

If Jelks can stay on the field, it will be positive for the entire defense. When he comes off the field, Hunter Kampmoyer, Drayton Carlberg, Jordan Kurahara, and Autsin Faoliu can give him a breather.

THE FINAL VERDICT

Jelks’ length and athleticism give opposing offensive linemen problems if he is actively aggressive. Jelks will conclude with 36 tackles, 12 for loss, including 4.5 sacks. He will add four pass deflections and another interception this season off a batted ball at the line. Unfortunately, no TDs for the Phoenix native.

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