Leading up to the start of Oregon’s fall camp on Monday, CSNNW.com will preview the Ducks by ranking the Top 25 (or so) most important players entering the season. Spoiler alert: Quarterback Marcus Mariota is not No. 1. Importance here is measured by a a subjective combination of past production, expected production and potential production weighted against replacement options, and how much of an impact a player’s success of failure could have on the overall success of the Ducks in 2014 as they continue to chase an elusive national title.
No. 14: Arik Armstead.
Position: Defensive end.
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 296.
Claim to fame: The former four-star recruit has 41 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in 26 career games.
Why he is important: Armstead came to Oregon in 2012 amidst great fanfare after the can't-miss superstar flipped on USC.
But so far, Armstead hasn't lived up to his promise. He was forced to play a backup role behind a veteran line for two seasons, and when he did play, Armstead often battled nagging injuries that limited his production.
Armstead also had basketball on his mind, which could have been viewed as a distraction during the winter when the rest of the football team was preparing for spring drills.
Armstead dropped basketball last winter, and rededicated himself to becoming the dominant force on the football field that many believe he can become.
For the first time since Armstead's arrival, Oregon desperately needs him to come through if the Ducks are going to make a national title run.
The depth behind Armstead is very inexperienced and not nearly as talented.
When on his game, Armstead presents a unique combination of height, size, agility, speed and quickness that make him a potential first-round pick in next year's NFL Draft.
Word is that Armstead is eying leaving the program after this season. If that turns out to be the case, a big season for Armstead would be beneficial for all.
Projected defensive line depth chart:
No. 15: LT Tyler Johnstone.
No. 16: DT Alex Balducci.
No. 18: K/P Matt Wogan.
No. 19: CB Dior Mathis.
No. 20: RT Jake Fisher.
No. 21: ILB Rodney Hardrick.
No. 22: DT Sam Kamp and company.
No. 24: OL Andre Yruretagoyena.
No. 25: DB Troy Hill.