UCLA Football: 5 Most Important Position Battles in 2013

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UCLA Football: 5 Most Important Position Battles in 2013
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The loss of Big Joe Fauria will be tough for UCLA

While the UCLA coaching staff is busy on the recruiting trail in January, the football team is set to begin winter workouts in preparation for the 2013 season.

The roster for next year isn't settled, as national signing day is still a month away, and the deadline to declare for the NFL draft is January 15. If there are no surprise defections, and a few key pieces fall into place when pen hits paper, the Bruins could be set up for a special year in head coach Jim Mora's second season.

Despite a solid core of returners and newcomers, a number of players are graduating from important positions. In addition to UCLA's all-time career rushing leader Johnathan Franklin in the backfield, five senior starters will need to be replaced from the defense.

Toss in the loss of 6'7" wideout Joe Fauria and All-Pac-12 OL Jeff Baca, and it's clear that the Bruins need some youngsters to step into big roles and produce.

This slideshow will rank each of the Bruins' 2013 position battles in order of importance using a metric determined by four distinct criteria.

The first criterion is straightforward: the relative on-field importance of each position will weigh heavily in ranking the battles. For example, a quarterback controversy is significantly more meaningful than competition for the starting long snapper spot.

The next three criteria pertain to the personnel returning at each position. A unit's returning (or incoming) depth, talent and experience are all considered in the rankings of these depth-chart duels.

With the grading system in mind, let's get to the rankings of UCLA's most important position battles for the 2013-2014 season.

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