Projected Starter, Cornerback: Devin Smith
As a first-year starter last year, Devin Smith struggled to say the least.
Although he finished the year with 55 tackles, a sack, and two interceptions, he was a liability on defense. The fact that he made 55 tackles is pretty telling in determining how well he guarded his man.
However, with a year under his belt, hopefully he will have made some adjustments by the time the 2010 season begins.
Projected Starter, Cornerback: Niles Brinkley
Also struggling last year was the starting corner opposite of Smith, Niles Brinkley.
Despite having seen much more playing time in 2008 than Smith did, Brinkley still had problems even with a year of experience. He finished with 38 tackles and two interceptions, but his man was constantly open and he was embarrassed on a national stage against Miami when the Hurricanes' speed was simply too much for him.
With both Antoni Fenelus and Aaron Henry seeing significant playing time last year, both Smith and Brinkley will have to perform if they want to keep their jobs.
Projected Starter, Safety: Jay Valai
With the departure of Chris Maragos, senior safety Jay Valai will undoubtedly be the leader of the secondary in 2010.
Valai finished 2009 with 51 tackles, including 3.5 for losses, with an interception as well. Valai will be Wisconsin's safety valve if things go wrong with their cornerbacks and if the Badgers are to have any luck defending the pass, Jay will have to be on his game in 2010.
Projected Starter, Safety: ???
With Valai and Maragos seeing almost all of the playing time at safety last year, the open slot at safety is anyone's to take.
An unheralded backup, or an incoming freshman such as Michael Trotter or Frank Tamakloe could take the spot.
Either way, whoever does earn the position better be up to it, because unless Wisconsin's cornerbacks improve drastically this off-season, they are in for a challenge.