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Each Top 25 College Football Team's Strongest and Weakest Position Group

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2014

Each Top 25 College Football Team's Strongest and Weakest Position Group

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When compared with the FBS (or even power-conference) median, not every team has a strength, and not every team has a weakness. There are teams in college football that do everything or nothing well.

    But relative to itself, almost every team does some things better than it does others. There is a best way to attack every opponent, even if that best way isn't necessarily a good one. It's just less of a bad one than the alternatives.

    Even if it's impossible to know for sure, it is entirely possible to project which unit will be the strongest and weakest for each college football team next season. Based on how they performed in 2013, what they return and who has looked good during the offseason, we can take a stab at where their best and worst position groups might lie.

    To celebrate being within 100 days of the start of the season, let's take part in this exercise with 25 of the best teams in the country, per the projected preseason AP poll by Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee.

    If you disagree, feel free to chime in below by calling me an idiot and telling me that I know nothing. 

     

    Note: Unless otherwise cited, all recruiting data is courtesy of the 247Sports Composite, all yardage figures are courtesy of cfbstats.com and all adjusted-line data is courtesy of Football Study Hall.

25. Texas Longhorns

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Strongest Position Group: Running Backs

    Because he mentored Teddy Bridgewater, Charlie Strong is often mistaken for a pass-first head coach. But he's not—and just as he played to his strengths at Louisville, he will play to his strengths at Texas. That strength should be the running backs, which feature a dangerous one-two punch in Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, assuming the latter comes back healthy from a torn achilles. Both will be leaned on heavily in what should be a run-first attack.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Quarterbacks

    Texas has three players on the roster—David Ash, Tyrone Swoopes and incoming freshman Jerrod Heard—who should, in theory, be above-average FBS starters. But none stick out as anything more than that as far as 2014 is concerned, leaving the Longhorns with a trio of bridesmaids but no bride. Unless Ash proves he can stay healthy, Heard proves he's ahead of his time or Swoopes proves his past few showings were an ugly fluke, this could be a revolving door all season.

24. Kansas State Wildcats

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Strongest Position Group: Wide Receivers

    Kansas State is obnoxiously balanced, which made it difficult to pick a strongest unit and a weakest unit. If not for the transfer of backup QB Daniel Sams, this likely would have been the quarterbacks, but instead, let's look to the wide receivers, who are led by All-America candidate Tyler Lockett. He and Curry Sexton form a dangerous one-two punch for QB Jake Waters, although depth behind them is a bit of a question mark. Deante Burton is one name to keep an eye on.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Running Backs

    Three-year starter John Hubert is finally gone from the program, leaving a noticeable void in the backfield. With news of Sams' transfer—it is hard to overstate what a big, out-of-left-field blow that was to this offense—no Wildcat besides Waters had more than five carries last season. DeMarcus Robinson was a big-name recruit coming out of high school, and he will be counted on to reach some of his former promise as a senior. If he doesn't, this running game could get ugly.

23. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Strongest Position Group: Running Backs

    Ameer Abdullah rushed for 1,690 yards last season, more than any returning player in college football. That makes him an obvious reason for the running backs' inclusion on this list, but he is not the only horse in the Huskers' stable. With Abdullah absent from the spring game, backup Imani Cross made a loud statement for more carries and looks like he could be one of the best backup tailbacks in the country. Terrell Newby isn't half bad as a third option, either.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    The secondary was the strength of last year's defense, which struggled more defending the run than the pass. But Ciante Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Andrew Green are gone, leaving Josh Mitchell and Corey Cooper as the leaders of a young secondary with little semblance of order behind them. Fortunately for Nebraksa, defensive end Randy Gregory might be good enough to mask some of its early-season coverage kinks by collapsing the pocket.

22. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Strongest Position Group: Receivers

    How's this for weird: Even after losing Eric Ebron to the top half of the first round of the NFL draft, North Carolina might have the best group of pass-catchers in the ACC. The next six leading receivers behind Ebron return next season, highlighted by burgeoning 6'4" weapon in Quinshad Davis and the nation's most underrated playmaker, Ryan Switzer. Either Maquise Williams or Mitch Trubisky (or both) will have no shortage of weapons to target in the passing game.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Line

    This is entirely by default; UNC does not have any one position group that sticks out as a glaring weakness. The secondary and defensive line both lose two starters, including one—safety Tre Boston and lineman Kareem Martin, respectively—who made the All-ACC second team, but the secondary was the strength of this defense last season, so we'll give that a slight edge heading into 2014. Still, Tar Heels fans can take solace in having a pretty well-rounded squad.

21. Louisville Cardinals

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Strongest Position Group: Receivers

    Damian Copeland departs after finishing second on the team in receiving yards, but Louisville returns its other five leading pass-catchers from 2013, chief among them DeVante Parker. It did come against mostly defensive backups, but Parker, Gerald Christian and Eli Rogers all had more than 100 receiving yards in the spring game, and so did highly touted youngster James Quick. Between having so many weapons and playing for Bobby Petrino, presumed quarterback Will Gardner has no excuse to not put up big numbers.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Quarterbacks

    The defensive line returns just one starter in Lorenzo Mauldin, but it was deep and good enough last season, when it finished eighth in the country in adjusted sack rate, to avoid being targeted here. Let's instead look under center, where Gardner had a nice spring but has not had a chance to prove himself much behind Teddy Bridgewater these past few years. Kyle Bolin and Brett Nelson don't inspire much confidence behind him, so UL fans better hope Gardner is, in fact, as good as the early returns seem to indicate.

20. Missouri Tigers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Strongest Position Group: Defensive Line

    How does a team lose Kony Ealy and Michael Sam and still call defensive line its strength? Two ways. First, it gets ravaged with losses at every other position, nullifying those departures. And second, it returns Markus Golden and Shane Ray—the best pair of backup defensive ends in the conference last season. Seniors Lucas Vincent and Matt Hoch return in the middle, too, and their clogging presence will continue to free things up on the outside. This defense will keep doing its dirty work in the trenches, working from the inside out.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    Missouri loses three starters from last year's secondary, and, unlike the case at defensive end, it is not stocked well enough to replace E.J. Gaines, Randy Ponder and Matt White without concern. Which is scary because, even with those guys, Missouri finished 109th in the country with 264.9 passing yards allowed per game last season. Part of that had to do with schedule strength and playing with the lead—per the Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings, Mizzou actually had the No. 11 pass defense in the country—but it is still an eye-popping number for a team that loses so much talent on the back end.

19. USC Trojans

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Strongest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    The scariest part about USC's secondary is not what it is, but what it can one day be. Starting safeties Su'a Cravens and Leon McQuay III were both true freshmen last season and will both still be around in 2015, which is terrifying to think about. But even in 2014, they should become one of the nation's top tandems, and John Smith comes in as another 5-star recruit to back them up. Assuming Josh Shaw stays at cornerback, he, Kevon Seymour, Chris Hawkins and Adoree' Jackson (another incoming 5-star!) give the Trojans a stacked group at that position as well. Good luck passing on them in 2014.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Offensive Line

    Perpetually a problem with the post-Pete Carroll USC offense, line play should again be the biggest question heading into next season. The Trojans finished 96th in adjusted sack rate last season, and they lose one of the best centers in college football, Marcus Martin, from that squad. New position coach Tim Drevno comes over from the San Francisco 49ers, and a lot is expected from him in Year 1. There is reason here for optimism, but it is best not to get ahead of ourselves.

18. Texas A&M Aggies

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Strongest Position Group: Offensive Line

    The beat goes on in college station, where the Aggies should again field one of the best offensive lines in America. Just as Jake Matthews replaced Luke Joeckel, Cedric Ogbuehi is poised to move from right tackle to left tackle and capably replace Matthews—the only starter from this unit who does not return. Germain Ifedi is making the switch from right guard to right tackle, and left guard Jarvis Harrison is one of the best interior linemen in the country. Texas A&M finished third in the country in adjusted line yards last season.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    The Aggies had a young secondary last season and return every starter sans Toney Hurd. But do they really want most of these guys back? Sure, time and experience cure most things in college football, but Texas A&M was a sieve through the air last season, allowing more than 250 yards per game. The hire of secondary guru Terry Joseph (via Nebraska) should help, but as of now—and until it is seen in live action—the improvement of this group is conjectural.

17. Washington Huskies

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Strongest Position Group: Defensive Line

    Really, the strength of Washington's team is the front seven at large; the linebackers, led by Shaq Thompson, could just as easily have been listed here. But the defensive line played great last season and returns almost every important piece, chief among them defensive end and heartwarming redemption story Hau'oli Kikaha, who returned after missing two years with injuries to rack up 15.5 tackles for loss last season. Along with Danny Shelton, Evan Hudson, Josh Shirley and hybrid linebacker Cory Littleton, he makes this a tough group to contain.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Wide Receivers

    The ruling is finally in from Chris Petersen: quarterback Cyler Miles has been reinstated to the team, while receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow will transfer, per Adam Jude of The Seattle TimesThe pair had been arrested and suspended earlier this offseason. Miles' return clears up some massive questions under center, where he is expected to start, and Stringfellow's departure muddles some equally sizable questions out wide. After Jaydon Mickens, Stringfellow was the only returning player with more than 16 catches and 210 yards last season.

16. Clemson Tigers

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    RAINIER EHRHARDT/Associated Press

    Strongest Position Group: Defensive Line

    Vic Beasley is the only front-seven player returning from the AP All-American team. He finished fourth in the country with 23 tackles for loss last season (first among returning players), and Clemson as a team finished first in the country with 9.46 tackles for loss per game. Corey Crawford, Grady Jarrett and Shaq Lawson all had double-digit tackles for loss last season, and Tavaris Barnes showed up huge with four sacks in the spring game. Clemson finished third in the country in adjusted sack rate last season and should be even better in 2014.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Running Backs

    The secondary is another area concern, but even though Clemson's defensive backs are younger than its running backs, the latter has a more fixed ceiling. Zac Brooks and D.J. Howard are serviceable, but underwhelming, as a pair of leading tailbacks, a far cry from what Roderick McDowell and Andre Ellington provided the past three seasons. C.J. Davidson is a former track star whose speed is intriguing, but relying on someone so untried as a big-play threat is dangerous.

15. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Strongest Position Group: Running Backs

    Is this ever not Wisconsin's strongest group? James White is gone after a storied career in Madison, but the Badgers have always been able to replace such celebrated players, and they are in good shape to do so again with big-play threat Melvin Gordon taking the lead. Behind him, Corey Clement is coming off a year where he averaged 8.16 yards per carry and is expected to become one of the best backup running backs in the country. But, hey, what else is new?

     

    Weakest Position Group: Receivers

    Wisconsin was drained at multiple positions, also losing every starter on the defensive line and at linebacker, according to Phil Steele. But those are positions the Badgers have done well, historically, at developing, and wide receiver is not. Jared Abbrederis accounted for 42 percent of the team's receiving yards last season, and altogether Wisconsin returns zero players who had more than 130 yards through the air. Those running backs had better be as good as advertised.

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Strongest Position Group: Quarterbacks

    Notre Dame has a quarterback controversy, if that's what you prefer to call it. But not all controversy has to be bad. Whoever starts between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will have earned it by beating out a worthy competitor; Notre Dame fans can rest easy knowing they are not one hit-to-the-knee away from a season gone to waste. After watching Tommy Rees start for all of 2013, it seems like they have earned that reprieve…and probably an ice-cold beer (or six).

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Line

    There is a high ceiling on Notre Dame's defensive line, and the fact that it is listed here speaks well to the overall depth of this roster. If Sheldon Day and Andrew Trumbetti pan out as well as they appear capable, this article could look foolish by year's end. Still, it is difficult to recover after losing Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III, especially on a roster that will rely so heavily on freshmen to contribute. Brian VanGorder will have to get creative in his first year with the Irish.

13. LSU Tigers

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    Strongest Position Group: Offensive Line

    The return of La'el Collins at left tackle helped solidify the 2014 line, making it the strongest unit on a roster that was again ravaged by underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft. Four starters return in total, headlined by Collins and left guard Vadal Alexander, who combined to form a dangerous run-blocking duo in 2013. Playing in front of a backfield that could heavily feature two true freshman, quarterback Brandon Harris and running back Leonard Fournette, this group must produce like the veteran-laden unit it is.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Quarterbacks

    I suppose this will be a controversial opinion. But even though I like Brandon Harris—enough so that I listed him as a favorite for the Freshman All-America team—it is hard to ignore the quarterback question in Baton Rouge. Despite his auspicious touchdown against Arkansas, Anthony Jennings was not impressive in the spring game and even less impressive against Iowa in the Outback Bowl. He seems best served as a career backup, which means a true freshman is being counted on to lead a team with College Football Playoff-sized hopes. 

12. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Strongest Position Group: Offensive Line

    South Carolina returns four of five starters along the offensive line, and Clayton Stadnik got enough playing time as a reserve last season for coaches to feel good about plugging him into the starting lineup. But he's no guarantee to even make it, as the Gamecocks are loaded with depth in the trenches and should have useful competition in the fall. Bleacher Report's Charles Bennett says this figures to be the best offensive line Steve Spurrier has coached in his 10-year tenure.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Line

    Oh, how a year changes everything. Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton are all gone from last year's fearsome defensive line, and a cast of largely unproven players is charged with replacing them. A lot will be expected of youngsters such as Darius English and Gerald Dixon off the edge, and it is unclear, at this point, how capable they are of meeting those expectations. In order to get pressure, South Carolina might have to blitz more often than Lorenzo Ward prefers.

11. Stanford Cardinal

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Strongest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    Losing Ed Reynolds is a big blow to the Stanford secondary, but every other starter returns from 2013. Cornerbacks Alex Carter and Wayne Lyons form the best lockdown duo in the Pac-12, and safety Jordan Richards is a powerful force at strong safety. A lot of depth from last season graduates, but still, the starting secondary will be counted on as a ballast for the Cardinal defense, which lost one of the best groups in program history from the front seven.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Running Backs

    There is potential in Stanford's backfield, especially with Barry J. Sanders poised to take on the biggest workload of his college career. Remound Wright is also a decent tailback, but neither he nor Sanders nor any other player at the position has rushed for more than 200 yards in his career. Kelsey Young has from the wide receiver spot, and though he will change positions and factor into the running back-by-committee, this team will still struggle to replace Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson behind four new starting offensive linemen.

10. Baylor Bears

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    Strongest Position Group: Running Backs

    Baylor loses Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, who combined for almost 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground last season, and are still more stacked than almost any team in the country at running back. Shock Linwood had four games with 100-plus yards as a freshman in 2013, Johnny Jefferson is being hyped as a rare blend of speed and power and Devin Chafin provides a quality third option that most programs would kill to have on their first team.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    Baylor's pass defense was abnormally decent last season, finishing as a top-35 unit on Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings. Safety Ahmad Dixon was elected to the All-Big 12 first team, and cornerbacks Demetri Goodson and K.J. Morton were voted honorable mentions. But all three of those players are gone in 2014, and so is nickelback Sam Holl. The only returning starter is safety Terrell Burt, and even though he and a couple of youngsters—chief among them rising sophomore Orion Stewart—have potential, this unit is impossible to bank on.

9. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Strongest Position Group: Running Backs

    Two years ago, Georgia brought in two of the best freshman running backs in the country, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. That pair is still on the team, and if Marshall can recover from last year's torn ACL, they might be the strongest one-two punch in America. Which is crazy because, once again, the Bulldogs landed two of the best freshman running backs in the country this recruiting cycle in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Stacked is a bit of an understatement.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    The attrition of Georgia's secondary has been painful to watch this offseason. Troubled safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was dismissed from the program and cornerback Shaq Wiggins, who started eight games as a freshman in 2013, announced his intent to transfer. Safety Tray Matthews is also a question mark after an offseason arrest. Much pressure will be heaped onto cornerbacks Damian Swann, who was a shell of his 2012-self last season, and Reggie Wilkerson, who is coming back from a torn ACL. That is quite precarious.

8. UCLA Bruins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Strongest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    UCLA returns every player of import from last year's secondary and adds another good recruiting class for depth. Ishmael Adams, Fabian Moreau, Anthony Jefferson and Randall Goforth return as starters, while class of 2013 headliners Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman are capable backups in nickel and dime formations. This unit lacks a true superstar, but it also lacks a true area of weakness. And that is even better than having an All-America-type player.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Running Backs

    The Bruins struggled to find a replacement for Johnathan Franklin last season. Quarterback Brett Hundley led the team with 748 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, and linebacker Myles Jack had to play both sides of the ball. The alliterative-named Paul Perkins and Jordon James both return and should improve as a backfield tandem, but even modest improvement would make this the weakest unit on a balanced team. UCLA needs one or both of them to take a giant leap.

7. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Strongest Position Group: Linebackers

    Last year's leading tackler, Frank Shannon, was arrested but not charged with sexual assault this offseason, per Guerin Emig of Tulsa WorldIf he rejoins the team, this is one of the best linebacking groups in America, but, even without him, the linebackers are the strongest unit on this team. Eric Striker is near-impossible to block off the edge, and Dominique Alexander was the best freshman defender in the Big 12 last season. He should only get better in 2014.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Receivers

    Oklahoma was far from an aerial juggernaut in 2013, finishing 92nd in the country and second-to-last in the Big 12 with 199.1 passing yards per game. Jalen Saunders, Lacoltan Bester and Jaz Reynolds all depart from that team, leaving Sterling Shepard as the only returnee who topped 200 receiving yards. Someone new must emerge as a target for quarterback Trevor Knight, who looked like he needs all the help he can get during an ugly spring game performance. Perhaps QB-turned-tight end Blake Bell can emerge as a reliable option, but that seems like a romantic notion to bank on.

6. Michigan State Spartans

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    Andrew Nelles/Associated Press

    Strongest Position Group: Defensive Line

    Shilique Calhoun is an All-America candidate at defensive end after racking up 14 tackles for loss and scoring three defensive touchdowns (all in the first two games) last season. Behind him, fourth-year starter Marcus Rush, redshirt freshman Demetrius Cooper and incoming 5-star recruit Malik McDowell should combine to form perhaps the best group of defensive ends in the country. If former blue-chip prospect Lawrence Thomas can reach his potential—which is considerable—at defensive tackle, this entire unit could go from very good to special. It did, after all, finish second in adjusted line yards in 2013.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Linebackers

    The trench play might need to be the best in the country next season, as Michigan State is tasked with replacing Max Bullough and Denicos Allen in the next level of the defense. Taiwan Jones, Ed Davis, Darien Harris, Jon Reschke and Riley Bullough should make for a deep unit, but one that is devoid of superstars. That this is Sparty's biggest weakness speaks to the depth of its roster; in truth, the linebackers are more of a "question" than a "concern." Still, however, it is the biggest question facing this team at the moment.

5. Auburn Tigers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Strongest Position Group: Offensive Line

    Auburn finished second in the country in adjusted offensive line yards last season, and it returns four starters from that dominant group of blockers. The one it loses, Greg Robinson, was perhaps the best lineman in college football last season, but Shon Coleman should be a serviceable replacement (at the very least), and Patrick Miller provides experienced depth off the bench. Center Reese Dismukes is one of just two returning Rimington finalists from last season and should be a favorite to claim the award in 2014.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    There is potential in Auburn's secondary, which got better as the year went on last season, returns a couple of starters, gets Josh Holsey back from injury and adds big-time JUCO safety Derrick Moncrief to the mix in 2014. But this is still a unit that finished No. 102 in passing yards allowed per game in 2013, which is impossible to overlook. Auburn will be hard-pressed to repeat last year's end-of-game magic; if it wants to repeat as SEC Champion, it cannot afford to give up such easy, sizable chunks of yardage through the air.

4. Oregon Ducks

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    Strongest Position Group: Offensive Line

    Oregon returns four starters from a unit that finished fourth in adjusted offensive line yards, chief among them center Hroniss Grasu—one of just two returning Rimington finalists—and tackle Tyler Johnstone. The health of Johnstone's knee, which was injured during the Alamo Bowl, is a concern moving forward, although the redshirt junior told Andrew Greif of The Oregonian that he is "fine" and that he thought his recovery "was going to be a lot worse (than it has been)." That is welcome news for a unit that should continue guiding an explosive rushing offense in 2014.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Wide Receivers

    It feels weird to say Oregon is weakest at a skill position, but that is the obvious case. Josh Huff and Daryle Hawkins are gone, and projected top receiver Bralon Addison tore his ACL in spring camp, leaving the Ducks without a single proven playmaker on the outside or in the slot. Devon Allen emerged during the spring game, and there are plenty of other intriguing options on the roster, but this is still, without a doubt, the biggest question facing head coach Mark Helfrich in Year 2.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Strongest Position Group: Defensive Line

    It's unclear who Ohio State's best defensive lineman is; any of three players could make a compelling case. But any or all of that trio—defensive tackle Michael Bennett, defensive end Noah Spence and end/tackle hybrid Joey Bosa—could easily end up on the All-America team next season. Throw in Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt, Jamal Marcus and new defensive line coach Larry Johnson (via Penn State), and you have a unit that should destroy the Big Ten.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    The secondary looked better under new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash in the spring game, but what does that ultimately mean? There is plenty of young talent on the roster after another great recruiting cycle, but the Buckeyes lose three starters from a group of defensive backs that essentially ruined the 2013 season. One might argue that this is addition by subtraction, but the players behind those starters were not good enough to pass them last year despite such marked struggles. They have a lot this upcoming season.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Strongest Position Group: Running Backs

    As usual, Alabama has too many running backs for its own good. Or at least for the players' own good. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry might be two of the five most talented tailbacks in the nation, and each would be a bona fide Heisman candidate if not for the presence of the other. Backing them up is Kenyan Drake, a Nick Saban-favorite who averaged 7.54 yards on 90-plus carries last season. There will always be a fresh, talented option in the Alabama backfield next season.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Defensive Backs

    Alabama's secondary was a weakness in 2013—at least so far as Nick Saban-coached teams go—and it appears even weaker this season. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Vinnie Sunseri and Deion Belue are gone to the NFL and cornerback Eddie Jackson tore his ACL this spring. Landon Collins is a potential All-American at safety, but cornerbacks Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey might be thrown into the fire of a national title hunt as true freshmen. Both are talented enough to survive without a burn, but Saban would have preferred to ease them in.

1. Florida State Seminoles

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Strongest Position Group: Offensive Line

    Florida State returns both tackles and guards from last year's offensive line. Losing center and leader Bryan Stork up the middle is a tough blow, but the surprising return of left tackle Cameron Erving made up for it. Erving will likely be a preseason All-American, Tre' Jackson made the All-ACC first team in 2013 and Josue Matias and Bobby Hart should compete for similar accolade this upcoming year. If it can improve its protection on passing downs, which was oddly a problem in 2013, this unit could be the best in college football.

     

    Weakest Position Group: Wide Receivers

    If blue-chip freshmen Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph pan out, this will be the strongest weakest position group in America. Even if they don't, it will still be decent with the return of leading receiver Rashad Greene. Still, Florida State has questions—relative to the rest of its roster—on the outside after losing Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw from last year's loaded team. Someone new will have to step up.

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