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NFL Draft 2013: Who's replacing the top 50 picks at the college level?

Because someone's got to play college football next year besides Jadeveon Clowney.

Johnny Manziel's new No. 1 bodyguard, Jake Matthews.
Johnny Manziel's new No. 1 bodyguard, Jake Matthews.

Saturday, LSU head coach Les Miles was asked by NFL Network how he was planning to replace the school-record nine Tigers being drafted.

"Very carefully," he replied, both proud of his program and aware of its looming challenges.

While sending talent to the pros is the ultimate recruiting tool for any major college football program, it also means losing premier players.

Below are the 2013 NFL Draft's top 50 picks, along with the player or players expected to replace each. Some teams are well-prepared, some are still battling, one is Alabama, and some have glaring deficiencies. We can think of these 50 or so replacement players as being among the players in the country with the highest expectations to meet this year.

Thanks for assistance here go to Peter Berkes, Chris Fuhrmeister, Steven Muma, Craig Powers, Rodger Sherman, Patrick Vint, and Avinash Kunnath, though none of Avi's writeups got drafted. Life's like that!

No. 1: Central Michigan LT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Eric Fisher, Chiefs Jake Olson SR 28 28 0

Patrick Vint: How do you replace the highest draft pick in conference history, a gargantuan and athletic LT who anchored your pass protection and paved the way for your running game?

You bring over your road-grader RT, 6'8, 305-pound Jake Olson, to fill the space. Olson was the starting LT in 2009 and the first three games of 2010 before being supplanted by Fisher. He moved to RT, where he started through 2011 and was supposed to continue through 2012. A knee injury cut his season short, but an injury redshirt gives Olson -- himself an NFL prospect before the injury -- a sixth year of eligibility and a return to his old position.

No. 2: Texas A&M LT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Luke Joeckel, Jaguars Jake Matthews SR 33 33 4

Rodger Sherman: Same idea as CMU. Except A&M can replace its top pick with an All-American.

Many thought the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews was also headed to the NFL, but Matthews surprised by returning for a final season in College Station, citing his desire to play with his younger brother, sophomore OL Mike Matthews. The 6'5, 305-pounder was on the FWAA's All-American list and was first-team All-SEC, but didn't get as much attention as he might have with an Outland Trophy winner on the other side of the line. Matthews will shift from RT to the left side, and Johnny Manziel's backside should be safe once again in 2013.

Replacing Matthews at RT will be Cedric Ogbuehi, who will have his plate full after playing LG last season.

No. 3: Oregon pass-rusher

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Dion Jordan, Dolphins Tony Washington JR 23 0 3

Rodger Sherman: Washington has acknowledged he isn't the same player as Jordan. He's smaller. Jordan was 6'6, and Washington is 6'3. And he's slower. Jordan's an athletic freak capable of providing coverage on slot WRs and pass rushing on back-to-back plays; Washington's not going to be able to do that.

But that's not necessarily a problem. Washington and coach Mark Helfrich have talked about how they'll integrate Washington into the defense as his skills merit. He'll be doing a lot more straight-up bull-rushing than Jordan (he's 252 pounds, Jordan was 239) and provide more of a defensive end look than Jordan could provide.

No. 4: Oklahoma LT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Lane Johnson, Eagles Daryl Williams? RsJR 19 11 4

Rodger Sherman: New OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh has made it clear no jobs are safe and that nobody has the edge to replace Lane Johnson at LT. But we have a clue, based on the spring game's rosters.

6'5, 315-pound junior Tyrus Thompson and four-star junior college transfer Josiah St. John are in the mix. Thompson was Johnson's backup, and even pushed him for the starting spot last summer. But 6'6, 315-pound junior Daryl Williams started all season at RT until an injury, after which Thompson took over. Thompson could then be set at RT.

No. 5: BYU pass-rusher

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Ezekiel Ansah, Lions Bronson Kaufusi? SO 13 0 4

Steven Muma: The Cougars will have a hard time replacing LB Ansah's versatility.

Sophomore Bronson Kaufusi, 6'7 and 260 pounds, finished spring practice listed as one of BYU's starting DEs. Given the former four-star's production last season -- he had 4.5 sacks, matching Ansah's total -- he seems the most likely player to fill Ansah's shoes, or at least attempt to do so. And like Ansah, he's got a thing for hoops, playing in 20 BYU games last season. Remington Peck is also a starting DE with some playing experience.

No. 6: LSU DE

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Barkevious Mingo, Browns Jermauria Rasco JR 22 0 4

Rodger Sherman: Rasco had to wait it out. He was behind Mingo and Sam Montgomery, both of whom declared early, his first two seasons at LSU. And he was behind their backups, Lavar Edwards and Chancey Aghayere. So although he managed to get into 22 games and record two sacks, it was rare play.

Now, two years after being touted as one of the best strong-side DEs in the country, the 6'3, 255-pounder finally gets to show if he was worth the hype as he and Danielle Hunter try to keep John Chavis' defense one of the most sack-happy in the country.

No. 7: North Carolina RG

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Jonathan Cooper, Cardinals Landon Turner SO 4 4 4

Patrick Vint: The massive Cooper leaves as one of the best interior OL in program history.

His replacement: an even more massive sophomore. The 6'4, 320-lb. Turner was a four-star prospect out of high school and universally considered one of the top five interior OL recruits in the nation. He redshirted nonetheless, then apprenticed behind North Carolina's stellar duo of OGs in 2012. Turner will be joined at OG by Caleb Peterson, another talented underclassman breaking into the rotation in 2013.

No. 8: West Virginia IR

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Tavon Austin, Rams Jordan Thompson SO 13 0 3

Rodger Sherman: West Virginia's ultra-prolific passing game takes some hits after it ranked No. 5 in the nation at one point. First, there's the QB, Geno Smith. Then there's Tavon Austin, the freaky fast playmaker, who was actually second behind Stedman Bailey in receiving yards. J.D. Woods was third, and he's gone too. Next was RB Andrew Buie, then Ivan McCartney, who transferred.

The top returning WR in yardage is Jordan Thompson. And in terms of playing style, he's the spiritual successor to Austin. But nothing's granted - he's actually listed behind walk-on Connor Arlia on the depth chart at Austin's IR position. Thompson (nicknamed "Squirt" and somehow smaller than Austin at just 5'7, 164 pounds) will also return punts and kicks.

Austin (front) and Thompson. Charles LeClaire, US Presswire.

No. 9: Alabama CB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Dee Milliner, Jets John Fulton? SR 23 1 4

Jason Kirk: Though he's been injured for all of spring with a toe injury (necessitating multiple Bama offensive players spending time in the secondary in practice), Fulton is expected to replace Milliner, with incumbent Deion Belue returning on the other side.

The 6', 186-pound Fulton's best game so far might've come against Texas A&M, when he had five tackles and four pass breakups. He started against Western Kentucky, earning one of the coaching staff's weekly honors for his performance.

No. 10: Alabama LG

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Chance Warmack, Titans Arie Kouandjio RsSO 12 0 4

Rodger Sherman: Alabama will guard AJ McCarron's backside with a double-Kouandjio.

Cyrus (the 6'5, 315-pound Arie's younger brother) has started at LT since his true freshman year in 2011, playing every game on the national championship team last year. Arie's Alabama career hasn't been as fruitful yet. He redshirted, lost his redshirt freshman year to a knee injury, and served as a backup guard as a sophomore.

No. 11: Alabama RT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
D.J. Fluker, Chargers ?

Rodger Sherman: Alabama's handling the loss of three of the best OL in the country pretty well. Freshman All-SEC Ryan Kelly replaces Barrett Jones at C, while the Kouandjio wall forms to the left.

That leaves one battle: Austin Shepherd, a 6'5, 315-pound junior who's backed up Fluker the past two seasons, and Leon Brown, a 6-6, 310-pound transfer considered the No. 1 junior college OT. It's a duel that will likely carry over into fall ball. Regardless, the bruising running that Alabama rode to a national title should have sufficient blockers up front once again.

No. 12: Houston CB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
D.J. Hayden, Raiders Thomas Bates RsSR 38 6 0

Patrick Vint: Losing an athlete as complete and talented as D.J. Hayden is difficult for the deepest of programs. It can be traumatic for a team like Houston, especially if there is not an heir apparent.

Fortunately for the Cougars, senior Thomas Bates appears ready to step in. Bates is a two-time letterman who led the team in pass breakups in 2013, stepping in to start the final three games of the season when Hayden suffered a tear to his vena cava vein. He racked up a ton of tackles as a starter (11 against Tulane), which isn't always a good sign for a CB, and he topped Hayden in interceptions in 2011, with three.

No. 13: Missouri DT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Sheldon Richardson, Jets Matt Hoch RsJR 23 12 3

Steven Muma: The 6'5, 295-pound Hoch handled NT duties in 2012 (after being recruited as a TE and then playing DE), but he's sliding over to Richardson's DT spot. He played special teams as a redshirt freshman in 2011 before becoming a mainstay in the starting lineup last season. He finished the year with 36 tackles, inlcuding a pair of sacks.

Behind Hoch, there isn't a lot of experience. Harold Brantley and Evan Winston, who are both redshirt freshmen, will see the field this fall if the spring depth chart is any indication.

No. 14: Utah DT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Star Lotulelei, Panthers Tenny Palepoi SR 12 0 3

Craig Powers: Lotulelei was at the center of some tough run defenses the past two seasons in Utah, but his emergence as a pass rusher in 2012 will be even tougher to replace.

The Utes at least have the size. Palepoi, a 6'2, 300-pounder, followed in Lotulelei's footsteps by transferring from Snow College and flashing three tackles for loss and two sacks in his first year with Utah.

Backups include Viliseni Fauonuku, who tallied 4.5 tackles for loss. For the future, there's also three-star freshman Lowell Lotulelei, younger brother of the new Panther.

No. 15: Texas SS

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Kenny Vaccaro, Saints Mykkele Thompson JR 26 6 4

Steven Muma: The Texas Longhorns lost a lot of experience when Vaccaro left. He started 32 games, earning All-Big 12 honors in his final two years.

Now the Longhorns are turning to 6'2, 183-pound junior Mykkele Thompson, who has already made a half-dozen starts. He tied Vaccaro in double-digit tackle games last year, with three. Behind Thompson on the spring depth chart is fellow junior Josh Hunter, who has made a total of 13 tackles over the course of his career.

The best part for Texas? The Horns lose only two other starters, tying them for tops in the country.

No. 16: Florida State QB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
E.J. Manuel, Bills Jameis Winston RsFR 0 0 5

Patrick Vint: The E.J. Manuel Experience finally came to an end after what feels like 17 seasons. Most presumed the job was reserved for junior QB/future NASCAR driver Clint Trickett, but Trickett surprisingly elected to transfer out of the program following the FSU spring game. The reason?

Former five-star prospect Winston set spring on fire, completing 12 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Any team with a redshirt freshman under center is going to go through some growing pains, but there's no denying his raw talent. Let the Charlie Ward comparisons begin?

Winston in Florida State's spring game. Melina Vestola, USA Today.

No. 17: Georgia SLB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Jarvis Jones, Steelers James DeLoach? SO 13 0 3

Rodger Sherman: Replacing Jones, who led the nation in sacks with 14.5, could be a two-player deal. In the name on the depth chart, it's James DeLoach, the 6'3, 270-pounder who saw playing time as a three-star freshman at DE and notched a spring game sack.

Jordan Jenkins could also fill the void. Jones started 2012 as a weakside LB, but Jenkins, the No. 6 weakside DE in the 2012 class, came on strong, enough for Todd Grantham to swap Jones to the other side. As a true freshman, the 6'3 Jenkins had five sacks, second on the team, and earned the squad's Newcomer of the Year award.

No. 18: LSU FS

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Eric Reid, 49ers Ronald Martin? JR 17 1 3

Peter Berkes: It won't be easy to replace a player like Reid, but the Tigers appear to be counting on rising junior Martin to help fill his shoes.

Martin was a relatively unheralded three-star recruit coming out of White Castle (La.) High School, but he's worked his way into the position, with 35 tackles in 2012. He's also started before, scoring two picks and a touchdown at SS against Idaho, and given LSU's basketball team some minutes.

No. 19: Syracuse LT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Justin Pugh, Giants Sean Hickey? SR 13 13 2

Peter Berkes: Hickey is a 6'5, 287-pound senior, so he has the size and frame to get the job done. He also started 4 games at LT last year before the returning Pugh took over -- he then shifted to RT.

However, the starting job probably won't be awarded until fall camp, and Daniel Anyaegbunam and Nick Robinson could make things more complicated.

No. 20: Oregon LG

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Kyle Long, Bears ?

Jason Kirk: Long himself was a replacement LG, shifting over from LT after friend-of-SB Nation Carson York's injury. The battle appears to be down to freshman Cameron Hunt and veteran redshirt senior Mana Greig, who was injured last season and this spring.

The 6'5 Hunt ranked as Cal's highest-rated recruit until the Ducks pulled a Signing Day surprise. The 5'11 Greig, perhaps Oregon's most athletic OL, has started a pair of games and appeared in at least a handful of games every year since 2010.

No. 21: Notre Dame TE

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Tyler Eifert, Bengals Troy Niklas JR 25 7 4

Rodger Sherman: Niklas has had some trouble finding his best spot on the field, but he's in line to replace maybe the best TE in Notre Dame history.

Niklas was listed by most recruiting services as an OT or DE, but Brian Kelly put him at OLB his true freshman season, where he recorded 20 tackles and recovering a fumble. The 6'7, 260-pounder was swapped back to offense as a sophomore.

He made some contributions as he picked up the position, including five receptions, two for 20 yards or more, one for a touchdown against Boston College. His body type makes him more of a blocker, but part of the reason Eifert was such a huge factor for the Irish in their run to the national title game was Everett Golson's comfort with passing to a big body. Senior Alex Welch and former Notre Dame basketball player Joey Brooks should also compete for playing time.

No. 22: Washington CB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Desmond Trufant, Falcons Greg Ducre SR 36 7 3

Steven Muma: The feisty Ducre has played in 36 games during his Washington career, with a decent number of starts along the way. This may be the season in which he becomes a regular at corner, helping to assume some of the load left by the absence of Trufant.

Ducre isn't as big (5'10, 177) as Trufant but possesses great speed, spending his winter on UW's track team. If he earns a starting nod, he'll likely play alongside Marcus Peters, who started the last eight games of the 2012 season and might be the best cover corner on the roster.

No. 23: Florida DT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Shariff Floyd, Vikings Dominique Easley SR 29 23 5

Chris Fuhrmeister: Florida is completely rebuilding the interior of its DL. In addition to losing Floyd, the Gators will also be without fellow tackle Omar Hunter.

Florida entered spring with candidates with good size in Darious Cummings (6'1 310), Damien Jacobs (6-3, 284) and Leon Orr (6'5, 305). But Easley, who piled up 8.5 tackles for loss at DE last season, has starting experience at tackle, racking up 7.5 tackles for loss there in 2011.

While Easley (6'2, 280) doesn't have the size of the others, his experience and versatility make him the one to take the unenviable job of replacing Floyd in 2013.

No. 24: Florida State DE

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Bjoern Werner, Colts Mario Edwards, Jr. SO 11 2 5

Patrick Vint: It's now time for Edwards, once considered the nation's top prep DE and a consensus five-star prospect.

Edwards recorded 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks despite expecting to redshirt after showing up to camp out of shape. The complete evisceration of the Seminoles' defensive line, capped by Werner's early exit for the NFL, leaves him as one of the pillars of the Florida State defensive front. The physical tools are obviously there, and his size -- 6'4, 288 lbs. -- makes him a formidable defensive end on Day 1. But matching Werner's 13 sacks and 42 tackles from 2012 will be a tall order nonetheless.

No. 25: Florida State CB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Xavier Rhodes, Vikings Lamarcus Joyner SR 41 27 5

Steven Muma: FSU has a talented and experienced replacement DB ready, though he hasn't been playing CB.

The coaching staff is moving Joyner back from two years at S to CB, and he appears ready to take over in FSU's new-look defense, which is expected to be more aggressive. At 5'8, Joyner can't match the size that the 6'2 Rhodes brought, but Joyner is very athletic (he's also FSU's kick returner).

No. 26: UCLA DE

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Datone Jones, Packers Owamagbe Odighizuwa? SR 38 8 5

Peter Berkes: It's time for the seasoned Odighizuwa to step up.

The 6'3 and 265-pound former five-star recruit has only 6.5 sacks to his name in his three seasons with UCLA, but he did show signs in 2012, picking up 3.5 sacks and six tackles for a loss.

He starred as a freshman, twice sacking Cal during his first start. He's missed time this spring due to injury.

No. 27: Clemson WR

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans Sammy Watkins JR 23 23 5

Rodger Sherman: After Watkins' incredible freshman season, it seemed like we would need to write about somebody replacing him. He busted out 1,219 yards and was an All-American, only the fourth true freshman to do so. But he regressed in 2012, being suspended and injured while Hopkins had 1,405 yards.

The rising junior has reportedly put on 10 pounds while shifting from his outside WR spot to Hopkins' boundary WR position, a job that calls on him to be less of the fly-past-everybody speedster and more of an all-around threat and blocker.

"I'm coming along and looking like Nuk out there," Watkins says.

Watkins. Streeter Lecka, Getty.

No. 28: North Carolina DT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Sylvester Williams, Broncos Tim Jackson SR 31 5 0

Patrick Vint: There is one certainty about North Carolina's next DT: He's going to be considerably smaller than the block-eating Williams, who is taking his 315-pound frame to the Rockies.

All signs point to senior Jackson taking the DT position for 2013. Jackson is certainly smaller; a converted DE, he weighs just 270. But in UNC's 3-4 scheme, in which the DT is not the zero-technique NT that is required in other schemes, Jackson's agility, height (he's 6'5), and DE skills could come in handy. He had 18 tackles and four tackles for loss in limited action last year.

No. 29: Tennessee WR

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings Lots of people

Rodger Sherman: Tennessee has to reconstruct its passing game from scratch. Tyler Bray's gone. Patterson and Hunter are draft picks. Mychal Rivera and Zach Rogers were seniors.

Next up? Vincent Dallas and Jacob Carter, who finished seventh and eighth on the team in receiving yards, respectively. Dallas, a 6'0, 180-pounder, had a training camp stint at DB for the Vols, but was back to WR in 2012, and managed a touchdown against South Carolina. Carter saw his first playing time, reeling in eight catches and a touchdown. Pig Howard, a 5'8 speedster, is expected to see his role increase as a sophomore. Four-star early enrollee MarQuez North will compete as well.

No. 30: Georgia ILB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Alec Ogletree, Rams Ramik Wilson? JR 18 0 0

Rodger Sherman: Georgia's defense returns only a few players, to put it nicely. Amarlo Herrera is one of those few. The 6'2, 245-pound senior started eight games opposite Ogletree.

And an emerging star from Georgia's spring, who could take over for Ogletree at the Mike spot, is Wilson. At 6'2, 224, he impressed in the Bulldogs' G-Day Game, with a team-high eight tackles and a sack. He's made a thing of having great offseasons, last year earning the team's Most Improved Player award in spring.

No. 31: Wisconsin C

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Travis Frederick, Cowboys Dan Voltz? RsFR 0 0 4

Peter Berkes: Voltz is a former four-star recruit, and after gaining 30 pounds in one year to reach 6'4, 310 pounds, looks like a prototypical Wisconsin OL.

Originally an OG in high school and upon reaching Madison, Bret Bielema's retooling-on-the-fly coaching staff slid Voltz over to C. The talented redshirt freshman looks like the favorite to get onto the field for the Badgers.

No. 32: Florida SS

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Matt Elam, Ravens Cody Riggs JR 28 14 0

Patrick Vint: With Elam leaving early, Florida was left scrambling for safeties. Enter the 5'9 Riggs, a junior cornerback who missed most of 2012 with a foot injury and returned this spring to find no room left at the inn.

He has moved to safety, immediately becoming the most experienced option for replacing either Elam or graduating FS Josh Evans. If Riggs goes to FS, Muschamp will likely decide betweeen sophomores Brian Poole and Valdez Showers. Junior Jabari Gorman or backup CB Jaylen Watkins could also get playing time in Elam's vacant position.

33. Florida International SS

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
John Cyprien, Jaguars ?

Patrick Vint: There are no good options for FIU at SS.

Justin Halley, the only returning DB with experience at either safety position, will man the FS spot. Cyprien's 2012 backup, Chick Grace, also graduates. The Panthers will likely turn to Terrance Taylor, a fifth-year senior CB with 11 career starts who was ostensibly the utility defensive back in 2012. With junior Richard Leonard, senior Sam Miller, and sophomore Jeremiah McKinnon providing experience and depth on the outside, the physical Taylor fills a hole in run defense and has the experience and instincts to help over the top in coverage or play man against slot WRs.

34. Tennessee WR

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Justin Hunter, Titans See above.

Since we've already been briefed on the state of Tennessee's receiving corps, here is a GIF of Smokey clipping Kentucky's kicker:

35. Stanford TE

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Zach Ertz, Eagles Luke Kaumatule? SO 0 0 4

Peter Berkes: The Cardinal will miss Ertz. He was the team's leading receiver in 2012, pulling in 69 receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns. Those 69 receptions were more than double the team's second leading receiver.

The task to replace him will not fall on one player alone, as Stanford uses more than one TE on almost every play. The departure of No. 2 tight end Levine Toilolo compounds the depth issue, but the player who is most likely to grab the top TE spot is sophomore Kaumatule, a 6'7, 260-pound Hawaii native, four-star recruit, and former high school WR who could fit the mold of the new Stanford tight end.

36. Mississippi State CB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Darius Slay, Lions Justin Cox JR 0 0 4

Jason Kirk: Cox, a top JUCO safety recruit from East Mississippi CC, committed to Mississippi State out of high school (where he also played QB) but had to take some time to get his grades right. He had 11 picks in two years at EMCC. His other offers this time around included Alabama, Georgia, and Nebraska.

Standing 6'2, 190, he allegedly cracks 4.3 in the 40. Allegedly.

In his first year in Starkville, he'll be expected to replace one half of arguably (based on NFL Draft returns) the nation's best CB duo.

37. North Carolina RB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Giovani Bernard, Bengals ?

Rodger Sherman: NFL teams feel Bernard can do the job every down, including fourth (hello, N.C. State). As the Heels look for his replacement, they'll realize that doesn't come around particularly often, as the two RBs set to replace him bring different styles to the Tar Heels' running game.

A.J. Blue is a bruiser, a 6'2, 225-pound senior who pounded his way to nine rushing touchdowns last year, while sophomore Romar Morris is a 5'10, 180-pound member of UNC's track team. Larry Fedora might pick one to be the feature back - or even turn to one of his incoming freshmen, like four-star back T.J. Logan - but he has a perfectly good thunder-and-lightning tandem if he wants it.

38. Notre Dame MLB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Manti Te'o, Chargers Jarrett Grace JR 13 0 3

Rodger Sherman: If Notre Dame wants to have any shot of maintaing the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation, they'll need Grace to take a huge step forward.

Te'o commanded the defense from the MLB spot, shutting air and land down in the middle of the field. Grace was his understudy, but didn't get many snaps, as the thriller-friendly Irish needed Te'o in the game a lot. The 6'3, 240-pounder's claim to fame is leading Notre Dame in special teams tackles, and he seems to be the only candidate to replace Te'o in the defense's heart.

39. West Virginia QB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Geno Smith, Jets ?

Rodger Sherman: QB is especially key in Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid. With Smith gone, there are two major prospects to take over.

Paul Millard's been Smith's seldom-used backup the past two seasons, and hasn't looked phenomenal: 16-for-34, three touchdowns, three picks. But it's a small sample size, and the 6'1 Texan knows the system. Ford Childress, like Millard a three-star recruit from Texas, has reportedly grown as a player since last year, when he was an early enrollee. They split first-team spring reps 50-50.

Oh, also, Clint Trickett could transfer in from FSU. He's eligible to play right away and has 72 more career attempts than Millard and Childress combined, albeit in a different system.

40. Florida State DE

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Tank Carradine, 49ers ?

Steven Muma: The Seminoles lost the nation's best DE tandem, as far as the NFL is concerned. Mario Edwards, Jr. is expected to start at one of the two, while a battle between Dan Hicks, Chris Casher and Giorgio Newberry is ongoing for the other.

Hicks, a senior, has an edge in experience, but he missed all of 2012 because of a knee injury. Sophomore Newberry appeared in 12 games as a reserve last year, and Casher redshirted as a freshman. Although Casher has yet to play a down of college football, he came to FSU with a great pedigree -- he was a consensus five-star recruit out of high school.

According to multiple spring reports, coaches are really trying to draw out Newberry's potential.

41. USC WR

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Robert Woods, Bills Nelson Agholor? SO 13 3 5

Steven Muma: Replacing the Pac-12's career receptions leader is no small task -- he was second on the team in receiving last year, and he racked up more than 1,200 yards in 2011.

But USC does return Marqise Lee (tops among returning players in yards from scrimmage) and sophomore Nelson Agholor, who was third on the team in receiving. Agholor is listed as the second starter, and he played well in the spring game, catching seven passes and scoring two touchdowns. But it's certainly possible that someone else might emerge to be the secondary target to complement Lee. Victor Blackwell is one such possibility; he had only one reception in 2012, but led all Trojan receivers with 155 yards in the spring game.

Agholor. Ezra Shaw, Getty.

42. Florida State RT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Menelik Watson, Raiders Bobby Hart JR 19 10 4

Steven Muma: The job of replacing Watson, who was an All-ACC honorable mention last season, is Hart's to lose. Hart played a reserve role in 2012, and did so primarily at OG. In 2011, though, he started nine games, gaining valuable experience at RT. He did not allow a sack in five of those starts and had a career-high five knockdowns against Duke.

The Seminoles return starters at the other four OL spots, but should the need arise for some shuffling, Josue Matias or Bryan Stork could move over to the RT spot.

43. Mississippi State CB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Johnthan Banks, Buccaneers Jamerson Love RsJR 25 0 3

Chris Fuhrmeister: Mississippi State loses three players in the secondary, so finding a competent replacement for Thorpe Award winner Banks is of utmost importance. Right now Love is probably the best of a group of CBs trying to take over for him and Slay.

Standing 5'10 and weighing in at 175 pounds, Love doesn't have great size, but the sophomore is talented. In a backup role last season, he compiled 25 tackles, two passes defended and one interception.

44. Purdue DT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Kawann Short, Panthers Michael Rouse III? RsSO 9 0 3

Peter Berkes: It will be difficult for one Purdue player to replace the impact Short had on the defense, but Rouse looks like the guy who will have the first chance.

At 6'4, 295 pounds, he's built like a prototypical 4-3 defensive tackle, but he has yet to really produce for the Boilermakers. Ryan Watson should have plenty of snaps as well.

Fans of FAT GUY TOUCHDOWNS, take note: Rouse had a 12-yard interception return in Purdue's spring game.


Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Kevin Minter, Cardinals D.J. Welter? JR 8 0 3

Steven Muma: Somewhat improbably, Welter emerged this spring as the leading candidate to replace Minter. The 6', 226-pounder played special teams in 2011 and then missed the entire 2012 regular season because of an academic suspension. Now he may be tasked with replacing a guy who earned All-American and all-conference honors a year ago and finished the season with 130 tackles.

The LSU staff considered moving WLB Lamin Barrow to the middle, but because of the way Welter has performed, that hasn't been necessary.

46. Oregon ILB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Kiko Alonso, Bills Tyson Coleman? RsSO 13 0 4

Jason Kirk: A converted OLB, Coleman spent spring competing for either Oregon's 4-3 MLB spot or a 3-4 ILB spot or both or whatever. The center of the Ducks' LB corps was hollowed out, leaving plenty of opportunity up the middle either way. Coleman ranked fourth among Ducks LBs in tackles for loss last year (3.5) despite backup snaps.

Derrick Malone and Rodney Hardrick are also in the running, but have been dealing with injuries.

Oregon's most improved player in 2012 and a spring star in 2013, Coleman missed the Ducks' spring game on Saturday. He's expected back by fall camp.

47. San Diego State TE

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Gavin Escobar, Cowboys Adam Roberts JR 23 0 2

Patrick Vint: Escobar departs after three productive seasons, leaving just three returning TEs on the SDSU depth chart for 2013.

The overwhelming favorite to take his vacant position is converted FB Roberts, a junior from El Paso, Texas. Roberts has limited experience -- he caught four passes in his first two seasons, and recorded his first touchdown in last season's regular season finale -- but still outpaces that of his competitors, JUCO transfer Dominique Bierria and recently redshirted sophomore Aaron Boesch.

San Diego State has relied heavily on the TE since Brady Hoke's arrival, and current coach Rocky Long has shown no sign of moving away from them.

48. Michigan State RB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Le'Veon Bell, Steelers Nick Hill? SO 28 0 3

Peter Berkes: The 5'8, 190-pound Hill didn't get a ton of carries last year, considering Le'Veon Bell lead the nation in carries and Larry Caper was also getting carries. Hill saw time as MSU's two-year KR, though.

However, the sophomore Michigan native could get the nod as the primary option for the Spartans in 2013. It won't be easy to replace Bell's impact with just one player though, so the 205-pound Jeremy Langford should get a good number of carries as well.

One setback: Hill underwent hernia surgery last week. He should be fine by fall.

49. Ohio State DT

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Johnathan Hankins, Giants Joel Hale JR 15 0 3

Steven Muma: Ohio State must not only replace Hankins, it must replace its entire starting defensive line.

At the tackle spots, Joel Hale and Michael Bennett are in position to start come fall. Neither player has much experience, and replacing a talent like Hankins will be no small task. Hale has appeared in 15 games but played sparingly; he has 10 career tackles. Bennett has a bit more experience, but like Hale, he is not used to being a regular starter.

Ohio State's defensive line future is bright, but 2013 should be a transition year.

50. Florida ILB

Pick Replacement Class Games Starts Stars
Jon Bostic, Bears Antonio Morrison SO 13 3 4

Jason Kirk: An experienced true sophomore referred to by Will Muschamp as "violent," Morrison steps in at Mike after making the 2012 SEC All-Freshman team and then racked up 3.5 tackles for loss in Florida's spring game-like 2013 thing.

Morrison recorded one of the big momentum changers against Florida State, a strip-sack of E.J. Manuel that set up a go-ahead touchdown. The 6'1, 218-pounder from Illinois is the smallest starting Gators MLB in many years, but his love of action has yet to be questioned.

"He made it very clear that he likes hitting people," said LB coach D.J. Durkin.

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