CB Kevin King (NFL, 2nd round), CB Sidney Jones (NFL, 2nd round), S Budda Baker (NFL, 2nd round), S Brandon Beaver (graduated), CB Darren Gardenhire (quit during the 2016 season), S Trevor Walker (transfer—Texas Tech), S Brandon Lewis (medical retirement)
CB Byron Murphy (RFr), CB Kentrell Love (RFr), S Isaiah Gilchrist (RFr), CB Elijah Molden (Fr), CB Keith Taylor (Fr), S Brandon McKinney (Fr)
For just about any secondary coach in the nation, replacing a single Budda Baker, Kevin King or Sidney Jones would be a tall task. That Jimmy Lake must fill the void left by all three simultaneously seems borderline cruel.
And yet, Chris Petersen has recruited such a well of talent at safety and cornerback in recent years that a precipitous drop is hardly an unavoidable outcome.
At cornerback, junior Jordan Miller and redshirt freshman Byron Murphy appear to be the odds-on favorites to start the season opener, but promising young players like Austin Joyner, Myles Bryant, Elijah Molden and others should make a strong push for playing time, too. Molden in particular has come on strongly of late during fall camp, and offers a dimension of athleticism that few others can match.
Meanwhile, safety Jojo McIntosh and nickleback Taylor Rapp represent the sole returning regular starters from the 2016 secondary, though senior Zeke Turner is himself no stranger to meaningful playing time. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Gilchrist and true freshman Brandon McKinney figure to be instrumental parts of the unit’s two-deep depth chart; if that happens, getting them acclimated to the speed of Pac-12 football during the season’s low-stakes non-conference schedule will likely pay dividends down the road during the thick of the conference race.
Will the passing defense be better, worse or neutral in 2017 compared to 2016?
This poll is closed