Stanford LB corps has big shoes to fill

The countdown of Stanford's top-5 position groups with room to improve continues.

One position group will be highlighted each day this week.

No. 3: Linebacker

Must replace: Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov, Jarek Lancaster

Returning starters: A.J. Tarpley, James Vaughters

Players to watch: Kevin Anderson, Joe Hemschoot, Blake Martinez, Noor Davis

Outlook: Replacing two of the best linebackers in school history in Murphy and Skov obviously won't be easy. Throw in Lancaster, who led the team in tackles in 2011, and there's a lot of departing talent. Tarpley flirted with the idea of heading to the NFL before deciding to return for his fifth year, and Vaughters will be counted on heavily to have a big senior season. With Skov's departure, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Cardinal moved Vaughters back to inside linebacker, where he started to the 2012 season before he was beaten out by Tarpley. Anderson will likely enter camp penciled in as a starter after seeing a lot of playing time on the outside in 2013. He came up with a pick-six in the Rose Bowl and the coaching staff has spoken highly of him -- dating back to his redshirt season in 2011. Martinez was mostly a special teams player as a true freshman in 2013 and will compete at inside linebacker. An intriguing player to keep an eye on is Davis, who was the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker in the Class of 2012.

The countdown

No. 4: Defensive line

No. 5: Wide receiver