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Pac-12 position unit rankings: Defensive backs

We're continuing our final inventory checks before the 2016 season kicks off. We'll be ranking every team's position units against the rest of the Pac-12. Today, we examine the defensive backs.

1. UCLA: How good is the Bruins' secondary? Good enough that Jim Mora felt comfortable moving former All-Pac-12 first-team cornerback Ishmael Adams to offense. Yes, it's that good. Jaleel Wadood and Randall Goforth, both second-team conference picks a season ago, return. The reigning No. 1 pass defense in the conference also returns Fabian Moreau, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2014 who missed most of 2015 due to injury.

2. Washington: The Huskies were the fourth-best pass defense in the Pac-12 last season yardage-wise but gave up the fewest passing touchdowns of any team (11). That group returns two 2015 All-Pac-12 first-team defensive backs in Budda Baker and Sidney Jones as well as a slew of talent and depth. It was a tough call between the Bruins and Huskies, and these two can likely be considered 1a and 1b in the league.

3. USC: All-Pac-12 first-team defensive back Adoree' Jackson leads a group that features Iman Marshall and Leon McQuay III. The Trojans were seventh in the conference in pass defense a season ago, but their returned experience and penchant for highlight-reel plays should create a scary secondary in Los Angeles this fall.

4. Stanford: The Cardinal welcome the return of Zach Hoffpauir, a former starting safety who returns after a stint playing baseball. Stanford was one of four teams in the Pac-12 that gave up fewer than 20 passing touchdowns in 2015.

5. Utah: The Utes led the conference in interceptions a season ago (22). All-Pac-12 first-team defensive back Marcus Williams was second in the league in interceptions a season ago (five). He leads a secondary that returns starters in Dominique Hatfield, Reginald Porter and Justin Thomas.

6. Washington State: Alex Grinch, who works with the secondary, has remade Wazzu's defense. In 2015 the Cougars finished third in pass defense in second in touchdowns given up (13). They return experience (Shalom Luani, Darrien Molton) and have an influx of young talent (Jalen Thompson).

7. Oregon: The Ducks' defensive backs will be a bit of a question mark until they hit the field this fall. There's a good chance they'll be the most cohesive unit on the defense, and you can take it as a good sign that coaches felt comfortable enough moving Charles Nelson out of the secondary and to wide receiver full time. Tyree Robinson and Arrion Springs will be the unit's playmakers this fall.

8. Colorado: Chidobe Awuzie was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection a season ago and the Buffaloes' defense, which looks to be much improved yet again, returns Ryan Moeller and Tedric Thompson.

9. Arizona: Redshirt seniors DaVonte' Neal and Tellas Jones both return, but it's a secondary that finished 10th in pass defense a season ago, so the jumps and advances are going to have to be major to contend in the South. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles has had a strong fall camp, but that's not enough to push this group into a higher ranking.

10. Arizona State: Laiu Moeakiola has embraced his move to bandit safety, which should give the Sun Devils a calming presence and a playmaker in the secondary, something they desperately need. A season ago Arizona State was the worst pass defense in the conference, giving up 35 passing touchdowns. Todd Graham loves to send heavy pressure, but that left the defensive backs exposed too much. They'll need to improve on that greatly this season if they want to avoid a similar fate.

11. California: The Golden Bears' only returning starter in the secondary is Darius Allensworth but there's inexperienced talent around him in Traveon Beck and Jacob Anderson. It's a group that has some potential but even more question marks.

12. Oregon State: The Beavers gave up a 69 percent completion rate a season ago and were one of two teams to not reach double digits for interceptions. Treston Decoud has stepped up as the unit's leader, but they'll need to make some huge strides to be competitive in the North against quarterbacks such as Luke Falk, Jake Browning and Davis Webb.

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