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Outside Linebackers: 2018 Spring Recap + Fall Preview

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NCAA Football: Arizona at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

How will the outside linebackers fare during the 2018 season? Will there be some depth to help the starters get some rest? Will the freshmen contribute to a somewhat unstable depth chart?

Pre-Spring Depth Chart

1. Justin Hollins 6’5 242 RS Senior

2. Keith Simms 6’3 227 RS Sophomore

3. La’Mar Winston, Jr 6’2 218 Junior

4. Bryson Young 6’5 244 Junior

5. D.J. Johnson 6’5 255 Sophomore

6. Matt Christman 6’2 252 Junior

Analysis

- The 2017 season was a productive one for the Ducks’ outside linebackers. Two of the top ten leading tacklers for the defense were outside backers.

- The two starters, Justin Hollins and La’Mar Winston combined for a total of 108 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

- Hollins presents the most interesting case as he started off as a defensive end in 2016 for the 4-3 scheme and transitioned to outside linebacker in 2017 in the 3-4 run by Jim Leavitt.

- The depth behind these two is largely unproven as Simms redshirted in 2017 and Young did not play as much even though he’s a rising junior.

Post Spring Depth Chart

LOLB

1. Justin Hollins

2. Bryson Young

3. DJ Johnson / Keith Simms

4. Adrian Jackson (freshman)

ROLB

1. La’Mar Winston, Jr

2. Bryson Young

3. Andrew Johnson (freshman)

Analysis

- Hollins and Winston are the two unquestioned starters due to experience and talent.

- Young will likely cross train between left and right due to the depth issues at the positions.

- DJ Johnson transferred in from Miami and will likely redshirt due to the transfer rules unless the NCAA grants his waiver to play immediately. Johnson was one of the best linebackers in the 2017 recruiting class, holding 100+ offers from nearly every program. The waiver is still in process at press time.

- Simms is the tentative third stringer due to the unknown status of Johnson.

- I think that both freshmen will avoid the redshirt and play on special teams and contribute to the depth. By necessity.

- I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or more inside linebackers transition over to the outside on certain play packages or even a defensive end drop back into coverage ala Jalen Jelks.

- The 2018 season will be used to build the depth as its one of the most dire situations on the team.