1. DE Demetrius Alston | Because of the loss of Michael Starts and Delvon Simmons I think that Alston fills a very specific and very important role as a defensive end or defensive tackle. I’ve been writing that Alston could be good at multiple positions for this team, including defensive tackle. When Alston signed in February of last year I thought it was great that he was already at 260 and I think that you could see Alston go from defensive tackle to defensive end, depending on the situation. I think that type of versatility, the same type of versatility that Kerry Hyder offers, is incredibly important to a team that lacks a lot of bodies at the defensive line position.
2. LB Aaron Ross | Ross was a late signee to the 2013 class and the doors are wide open for Ross to enter. For the same reasons mentioned above, Ross offers a pass rushing linebacker, the bandit position, that can maybe push Branden Jackson and Pete Robertson into being even better. I somewhat hesitated to have Ross this high because he is so raw, only playing 6-man football in high school and last year was Ross’ first year playing 11-man football, but you can see the skills and this team needs what Ross brings, which is an ability to rush the quarterback.
3. DB Dorian Crawford | I initially had Crawford pegged as a cornerback for the longest time, but with the most recent article about the defensive backfield, it mentions Crawford as a safety type rather than a cornerback. I recall that when Crawford committed, he wanted to play cornerback and I do think about the idea of having a cornerback with some serious size is highly beneficial to this team that really only has one cornerback with decent size, LaDarius Newbold. But Crawford may be switching to safety and I actually am pretty comfortable with the starters at safety with Tre Porter and J.J. Gaines there, as well as Keenon Ward, but I’m guessing that after that, there are some real question marks, so I get this move. I am incredibly worried about the boundary cornerback spot, which is the cornerback that is on the short side of the field and supposed to be a bigger player. I don’t know what to think at all about Olaoluwa Falemi and I’ve seen enough of Derrick Mays to have an opinion that he’s really fast, but I think lacks a certain on-the-field awareness. Maybe the staff feels that the safety position is the one that needs the help the most, so that’s where Barnes will play. Maybe he’ll do a bit of everything
4. DB Martin Hill | So the latest projections have Hill at cornerback, while he primarily played safety or the nickel back in college. Hill is somewhat just lumped into that second cornerback spot with Mays, Falemi, Newbold, etc. I’m totally fine with putting Hill in that mix and as long as Hill can compete at that spot, then I’m okay with it (like I have a choice). With Hill and Crawford, no matter the position, you want the coaching staff to utilize their talents however is most beneficial to the team. Even with maybe some movement on the positions of each of these players, I think that the fact that the entire defensive backfield essentially graduated (Cody Davis, D.J. Johnson, Eugene Neboh and Cornelius Douglas) there’s going to be some opportunity.
5. LB Kahlee Woods | How comfortable are you with Micah Awe and Blake Dees at middle linebacker? Ultimately, that’s the question the coaching staff has to answer and think to yourself that Woods won’t be an improvement. Of course, that sort of expectation for a true freshman is unrealistic, essentially, you shouldn’t have any expectations because playing as a true freshman is tough, but with Woods I think he played at a high enough level in high school, Sherman, and he was a tackling machine, 139 tackles doesn’t just happen by mistake. The toughest thing is that with Woods, he wasn’t all that highly recruited and he didn’t have the best 40-yard dash time, so maybe he’s a step slow. Still, of all of the players, I think he’s mature enough physically to play right now.
This is my top five and this was really pretty easy because of the four JUCO players. Tell me who you got.