Oregon football's defensive front looks to be deep in 2022
This story is the second of six in a summer series breaking down Oregon football by position group leading up to the first official practices before the season.
Talk about the Oregon defensive line entering the 2022 season inevitably starts with who's gone. That's natural when a player the stature of Kayvon Thibodeaux —the No. 5 pick in the NFL Draft by the New York Giants — has moved on.
But with 10 experienced linemen/edge rushers returning, and talent in the seven newcomers, there is reason to hope the Ducks might be more sturdy all around up front than they were while Thibodeaux was keeping linemen and opposing coaches in a sweat. It will be interesting to see how playing time and roles are defined, given that new head coach Dan Lanning and new defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi have said their goal is to build an aggressive defense that forces turnovers.
DUCKS OFFENSIVE LINE STACKED: Oregon brings plenty of experience back on the offensive line as well
The top name among the returnees on the defensive line is junior Brandon Dorlus. Listed at defensive end, he has lined up in different spots across his 30 games (4.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss). Depending upon where players land in fall camp, Dorlus might end up starting at one interior position.
Among possible starters at defensive tackle are redshirt senior Popo Aumavae and redshirt sophomore Keyon Ware-Hudson. Aumavae is entering his sixth fall in Eugene. He has played 38 games and been in on 66 tackles. Ware-Hudson has played in 20 games for the Ducks.
Sam Taimani, a redshirt junior transfer who started 43 games on the interior for Washington, could very well end up starting for Oregon. Other incoming transfers up front are redshirt senior Jordan Riley and redshirt junior Casey Rogers, both of whom followed defensive line coach Tony Tuioti from Nebraska to Oregon.
At the edge position, redshirt DJ Johnson could be a star after toggling between tight end and defensive line during his seasons in Eugene. It's possible Johnson lines up at edge/ outside linebacker and at the end position.
Depending upon the scheme, outside linebackers who can morph into edge players include fourth-year junior Mase Funa or sophomore Bradyn Swinson.
At tackle, redshirt sophomore Sua'ava Poti and redshirt freshman Maceal Afaese have limited game experience and Sir Mells and Ben Roberts are incoming freshmen.
At end/edge, Central Catholic High grad Emar'rion Winston is an incoming freshman. He lacks the experience of redshirt sophomore Treven Ma'ae, sophomores Jake Shipley Terrell Tilmon and redshirt freshmen Keanu Williams and Jaden Navarrette, but with a new coaching staff figures to have an opportunity to impress in fall camp.
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