- David M. Hale, College football
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Spring is over and the NFL draft has come and gone, which seems like a good time to check in on how ACC teams are planning to replace their most irreplaceable parts. First up, the Atlantic Division.
Biggest loss: QB Tyler Murphy
Replacement plan: It never really felt like the QB competition was a major question mark for BC as Darius Wade has emerged as the obvious replacement. Wade isn’t the runner Murphy was last season, which means BC will need to tweak its game plan a bit, but Wade’s arm should help open up the offense a bit, too.
Biggest loss: DE Vic Beasley
Replacement plan: Beasley’s replacement was already obvious, as junior Shaq Lawson has been waiting in the wings for two years. Managing the rest of a new-look defensive line and building some depth there was the bigger concern. Kevin Dodd and Ebenezer Ogundeko should assist in the pass rush, but just how good the defensive ends beyond Lawson will be remains a valid concern for the Tigers.
Biggest loss: QB Jameis Winston
Replacement plan: Sean Maguire owned the QB battle this spring, and he now appears to be the heir apparent. No one is expecting a repeat of Winston’s tenure, but Maguire has shown he’s willing to gamble on the deep ball and has a good knowledge of the playbook. Perhaps the biggest key to FSU’s QB transition will be finding some consistent playmakers to surround Maguire.
Biggest loss: OLB Lorenzo Mauldin
Replacement plan: Louisville moved Keith Bryant from middle linebacker to the outside, and he had a solid spring. The more intriguing option arrives this fall, however, when former TCU standout DeVonte Fields gets to campus. Replacing Mauldin will be crucial for a Louisville defense that struggled to set the edge at times last season. Of course, there's also a strong case that WR DeVante Parker was actually Louisville's biggest loss, and that's a position where answers are even more vague at the moment.
Biggest loss: WR Bo Hines
Replacement plan: The expectation was for Bra'Lon Cherry to step up after Hines departed for the Ivy League, and coach Dave Doeren said he was pleased with how Cherry performed this spring. Still, there aren’t a ton of options for QB Jacoby Brissett at the moment. Tight end David Grinnage will be a major weapon in the receiving game, but Doeren seems most excited about converted DB Elliott Davis, whom Doeren called the best big-play threat on the team this spring.
Biggest loss: LB Cameron Lynch
Replacement plan: There are question marks all over Syracuse’s defense with an abundance of veteran leaders departing after the 2014 season. If we’re forced to pinpoint one departure that looms larger than the rest it’s Lynch, who led the team with 97 tackles and 12 tackles for loss last season. This spring, Marqez Hodge has done a nice job of rehabbing a knee injury and playing the Will linebacker spot. He’s got potential there, but there will be youth surrounding him and limited depth behind him -- which isn’t ideal for a player still working back from an injury.
Biggest loss: CB Kevin Johnson
Replacement plan: Junior Brad Watson steps into the big shoes left vacant by Johnson’s emergence as a first-round NFL draft pick. Last season, Johnson and Merrill Noel gave Wake the option to leave their corners on an island and stuff the box to slow the run. This year, Dave Clawson said he’s confident Watson can handle a similar role, but it’s actually the opposite corner position where his biggest questions remain. Wake promises to have one of the best linebacking corps in the ACC, and Clawson said he believes the defense can build more around that strength in 2015 to take some of the pressure off the back end of the D.
A look at who will be replacing some of the biggest stars in the ACC's Atlantic Division.