See your team in your mind's eye -- 24 starters, including specialists.
If you could put an absolute halo of safety -- perhaps a girdle of indestructibility? -- around just one, who would it be?
We're rating each team's most indispensable player. And when the choice is too obvious -- say, Stanford -- we'll try to offer a second choice.
Up next: Arizona State
LB Vontaze Burfict
We get it: This is obvious. Burfict is the Sun Devils' lone superstar, particularly with cornerback Omar Bolden out with a knee injury. He might be the best linebacker in the nation. Heck, he might end up becoming the national defensive player of the year. When you project another season of his special talent guided by a more mature head, well, the upside hints at the second coming of Burfict's favorite player, Ray Lewis (of course, he's only a Hall of Fame NFL career away from matching Lewis, but the comparison isn't ludicrous in terms of style -- and attitude -- of play). But this is about more than Burfict's skills. Fact is, Arizona State would still be pretty good at linebacker without him. It's about setting a tone, particularly this season with a veteran team that has Top 25 potential and is the South Division favorite. If Burfict can harness that edge he plays with and make it work for him -- and his teammates -- ASU's defense will create long days for opposing offenses. Burfict can intimidate. He can play like a heat-seeking missile. He can avoid getting flagged while doing so. And if he does, his strut and stomp will become contagious.