Oregon Ducks

Ten Ducks that must rise in 2017: No. 5 - TE Jacob Breeland

Oregon's quest to improve greatly over last season's 4-8 record will depend on the rapid development of several young and/or previously little-used players. Here is a look at ten most likely to rise to the occasion in 2017.

No. 5: Sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland.

No other position on the roster could be more desperate for someone to rise to the occasion than tight end. 

Pharaoh Brown, Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt all left the program as seniors after combining for 65 receptions last season. 

That leaves Breeland as the lone returning tight end with playing experience. He caught six passes for 123 yards in 11 games last season with a long reception of 63 yards at Washington State.

While all of this might paint a seemingly hazardous situation at tight end, the truth is that Breeland has the potential to become better than all three of Oregon's senior tight ends from last season. He is certainly more athletic than Mundt and Baylis and he is faster than Brown, who lost some steps after suffering a major leg injury in 2014. 

At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Breeland brings good size to the hybrid position that in coach Willie Taggart's offense, much like in Oregon's previous scheme, will align tight at the line of scrimmage, as a wing and flexed out. 

Depth is a bigger problem at tight end than the starter situation. Behind Breeland is redshirt freshman Cam McCormick, walk-on redshirt sophomore Matt Mariota and a bunch of names that remain mysteries. 

Oregon did not sign a tight end in the 2017 recruiting class. 

So as of now, Breeland is the lone guy Oregon can count on, which makes the tight end position a potential soft spot for the Ducks unless he remains healthy. 

The working list

No. 1: Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. 

No. 2: Wide receiver Dillon Mitchell.

No. 3: Nose tackle Jordon Scott

No. 4: Freshman quarterback Braxton Burmeister

No. 5: Sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland

No. 6: Sophomore linebacker La'Mar Winston.

No. 7: Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Gary Baker. 

No. 8: Wide receivers Ofodile, Lovette and McNeal.

No. 9: Safeties Brady Breeze and Billy Gibson

No. 10: Several freshman must deliver