We move on in our series looking at the weakest and strongest positions on each team in the ACC with NC State.
Strongest position: Defensive line
Considering the returning starters here, this position is the Wolfpack's most experienced headed into the season. And when you have a veteran line with the ability to get into the opponent's backfield, you can make up for weaknesses on other parts of the defense (we'll get there in a minute). The Wolfpack return T.Y. McGill and Thomas Teal in the middle of the line, along with Darryl Cato-Bishop and Art Norman at defensive end. Cato-Bishop (6.5), Norman (5.5) and McGill (5) accounted for 17 of the team's 33 sacks a year ago. But Cato-Bishop and Norman are not quite locks to start opening day. Cato-Bishop was challenged this spring by rising talent Mike Rose, and that position remains open for competition headed into the fall. Forrest West is pushing Norman as well. Defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable does have some concerns over depth at end, but there is a veteran group returning that has proven it can hold its own up front.
Weakest position: Defensive back
There are a number of spots we could have chosen here, as the Wolfpack have major concerns at quarterback, receiver and the offensive line as well. But defensive back has the most questions of all because only one starter returns, and there are some depth concerns here as well. NC State has to replace starting cornerback David Amerson and starting safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop -- both Amerson and Wolff were selected in the NFL draft this past April. Though Amerson did not have the year everybody expected in 2012, he did start 35 games in his Wolfpack career. Juston Burris, slated to replace him, had a great spring but only has five career starts, all at nickel back. Dontae Johnson, the lone returning starter from a year ago, will be expected to provide leadership for the entire secondary. As for safety, Huxtable also has depth concerns here though coach Dave Doeren was encouraged by the way Jarvis Byrd performed this spring after knee injuries have had a major impact on his career. Sophomore Hakim Jones is ahead of Tim Buckley at the other safety spot. Both are sophomores. Of the eight players listed on the post-spring depth chart, Byrd and Johnson were the only seniors. The other six? Freshmen or sophomores.