Over the past two weeks we've been reviewing the position groups throughout the Pac-12. Even though so many top players graduated or left early for the NFL draft, it's looking like the conference will take another step forward in 2014.
But we wanted to ask you: What do you think will be the most impressive position group (outside of the QBs) in the Pac-12 next season?
This is interesting, because it'll take a bit of personal preference into play. What exactly you consider to be impressive might not be what someone else considers impressive. But, think of it this way -- when we're looking back at this season in February, which players and groups are going to be the ones that come up again and again?
Wide receivers: The conference is stacked with great quarterbacks who are going to make their wide receivers look even better. Just run down the list: Ty Montgomery, Austin Hill, Cayleb Jones, Vince Mayle, Nelson Agholor, Jaelen Strong, Dres Anderson, Devon Allen, Victor Bolden (and yes, the fact that we can get that deep with names while leaving so many off means this is quite the group). Five of the top 10 receivers from 2013 are gone, but this group could be better than last year. Only two receivers (Brandin Cooks, Paul Richardson) averaged more than 100 receiving yards per game last season. This season could we see four? Five? Six?
Running backs: Like the wide receivers, this is a group that lost a lot of top talent (four of the top five rushers in 2013) but could be even better than it was a year ago. Oregon features Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. USC has Buck Allen. Arizona State has D.J. Foster. Utah has Bubba Poole. There are probably more running back questions that wide receiver questions in 2014, so this is a bit more of a gamble, but if a few of the younger, less-tested guys pan out, this could be a sick group.
Linebackers: Several teams return three starters and depth beyond that. With Myles Jack just playing defense, what are the chances he could be in the running for defensive player of the year? Is Michael Doctor posed for a breakout year after returning from his injury? Will Derrick Malone lead the Ducks in tackles again? Heck, all of these things could happen. Which makes this group one that could be one of the most (if not the most impressive) in the Pac-12.
Defensive line: With so many top defensive linemen in the conference, they're sure to put up some really big plays. Will any offensive linemen (or double team for that matter) be able to keep up with USC's Leonard Williams? Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha is the country's returning sack leader. Oregon and Stanford both boast top tandems up front. UCLA's Owamagbe Odighizuwa is poised for a breakout year. Nate Orchard is solid for the Utes. If big plays from the defensive line is what you consider to be the most impressive part of football, then maybe this is the group to pick.
Other: There are certainly other options. You think the offensive line will be the most impressive position group out there? That's great. You think the safeties or cornerbacks will surprise a few? Vote here. It's a free country. You choose.