Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The position rankings: What do they mean?
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
After I finished ranking the Pac-10 cornerbacks Tuesday -- the final position to be sorted -- I immediately thought to go back and review all the position rankings and see what they reveal.
I wondered in particular if they'd indicate that I needed to rethink my predicted Pac-10 finish:
- Arizona State
- Oregon State
- Washington State
Now, obviously, all these preseason rankings are just my opinion, and making distinctions between players at under-the-radar positions as well as players whose resumes are incomplete are mostly a crapshoot.
Moreover, I fudged around with some things while ranking the positions to make a simple averaging impossible. Some rankings were for individuals. Other were for positions as a whole.
I'm sure a math guy who loves a spreadsheet might be able to work this out toward more exacting conclusions, but since my measurements are merely educated guesses (and some of you might suggest that education didn't get past third grade), I'm merely going to point out some trends.
- USC ranked highly at every position other than punter (7) and tight end (9). Of course, the low TE ranking was based on Anthony McCoy's inexperience (offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian told me he expects big things out of McCoy). Also, incoming frosh Blake Ayles is supposed to be a sure-thing star.
- Arizona's passing offense? No. 2 at quarterback, No. 1 at receiver and No. 1 at tight end.
- There's a reason Cal is switching to a 3-4. It's got three excellent linebackers (Nos. 3, 5 and 8) and big questions up front. Of course, a healthy Rulon Davis at end will make a big difference.
- Stanford's defense, which welcomes back nine starters, should be much improved (6 top-10 players). NFL draft lists played a big role in the rankings, and the Cardinal defense features a number of NFL prospects at all three levels. On offense? Not so much.
- If Gary Rogers steps up at quarterback, Washington State will score some points. And, with questionable talent on defense, the Cougars probably will need to.
- Folks at Arizona State feel pretty good about their linebackers -- none of whom made the top 10 -- so the rankings suggest that the Sun Devils only real question is the offensive line.
- With the No. 1 offensive line and No. 2 backfield -- and an athletic first-year starter at quarterback -- Oregon should be able to run the ball.
- Arizona's defense is a complete mystery. So is Washington's offense, other than, of course, quarterback Jake Locker.
- Hard to imagine there are too many programs that can match the secondaries of Oregon, Oregon State and USC.
- Arizona and UCLA should feel really good about their specialists. Stanford, Oregon State and Cal don't really know what they're getting.
- UCLA fans have a lot to worry about -- health issues at QB and RB, the offensive line, the secondary. But it might be hard to run up the middle on the Bruins.
So, does anything change my Pac-10 rankings? I'll admit to pausing a bit over Stanford, but I'm going to stand pat.