We’re taking a look at the biggest holes on each ACC team’s roster. Next up: the national champs.
Area of need: Safety
Truth is, despite all the talent that will head to the NFL from this year’s champions, Clemson is still pretty loaded with talent. The one position that looks thin, however, might be safety. Van Smith did well in 2016, but he’s not a great matchup against more physical offenses. With Jadar Johnson leaving, there’s a big vacuum at strong safety, too. Isaiah Simmons would figure to be the best fit, and Tanner Muse will get some reps after proving to be a special-teams star, but Clemson would still love to find some additional depth here.
Area of need: Quarterback
Let’s be clear here: There is no replacing Deshaun Watson. He’s a once-in-a-generation player, and whoever inherits the job needs to focus on simply being a good quarterback, not filling the void Watson leaves. And when it comes to that replacement, Clemson does have some strong options, from a relatively experienced Kelly Bryant to talented redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper to potential star recruit Hunter Johnson. The future of the offense will be in good hands; it’s just a matter of whether Clemson can move out of Watson’s shadow sooner rather than later.
Area of need: Running back
Much like quarterback, there's no lack of depth here -- it’s just a question of who will step up to replace Wayne Gallman. While Watson and the receivers provided the glamor to the Clemson offense, Gallman was always the guts, and that’s a tough thing to replace. Tavien Feaster should be a top option, and he’s drawn comparisons to C.J. Spiller, but for the more hard-nosed running, we could see Tyshon Dye finally emerge. C.J. Fuller and Adam Choice will have roles, too.