Just three more teams to go in our look at the weakest and strongest positions on each squad in the league. Up today: UCF.
Strongest position: Quarterback.
I went back and forth on this one, because receiver is a strong position for the Knights and there is no proven backup behind quarterback Blake Bortles. But ultimately, I chose quarterback because Bortles will be one of the best signal-callers in the league. His presence gives UCF a shot to be very good in Year 1 in the American. Last season was a breakout year for him, as he threw for over 3,000 yards, 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in his first year as a full-time starter. Given his athletic ability, strong arm and good decision-making, everybody expects him to be even better this year. I believe he ranks No. 2 at his position behind Teddy Bridgewater going into the season. Now, having said that, Bortles will have to make some adjustments playing against better competition. He will face much better defenses as well. So that is a bit of an unknown. But what we do know about Bortles is he has the potential for another 3,000-yard season. Especially with his top four receivers back -- a big reason why I nearly chose to highlight this group.
Weakest position: Defensive back.
On the flip side, UCF is essentially starting from scratch in the defensive backfield with a slew of young players. Standout safety Kemal Ishmael is gone, and so is cornerback A.J. Bouye. Clayton Geathers returns as the leader of the defense and will shift over to play Ishmael's free safety spot. Brandon Alexander returns as well, but the theme of this group is youth. Among the players the Knights are going to rely on in a big way this year are sophomore Nicco Whigham and freshmen Jeremy Davis, Jacoby Glenn, Jared Henry, D.J. Killings and Drico Johnson (a converted receiver). In fact, there are no seniors on the two-deep at defensive back, so it is probably a safe bet to think these guys could go through some growing pains early on in the season. Opponents could very well take to the air to take advantage of some of these younger guys at cornerback and safety. Their inexperience means the defensive front could end up shouldering more of the load.
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