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Biggest shoes to fill: Arizona State

2/10/2015

Arizona State Sun Devils

Players come and go.

In a perfect world, the teams only have to reload, not rebuild. But following this season, there are a lot of shoes that need to be filled due to early departures and expected graduations.

That leaves the question: Will these spots be reloading or rebuilding? Your humble Pac-12 Blog takes a look at some of the biggest shoes that need to be filled entering the 2015 season.

ARIZONA STATE

Biggest shoes: WR Jaelen Strong

It took just two seasons in Tempe for Strong to move up to eighth on the Sun Devils' all-time receiving yards list (2,184) and establish himself as one of the best receivers in the country. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he possesses a rare blend of size and speed and presented matchup problems that won't be easily replicated. His decision to leave early made sense considering he's widely regarded as a potential first-round pick -- ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projected him at No. 29 overall in his initial mock draft. Not since 1988, when Aaron Cox was drafted No. 20 overall, has an ASU receiver gone in the first round.

Stepping in: TBD

Strong was responsible for 29.2 percent of ASU's receptions last season -- the third-highest rate in the Pac-12 -- and the only other true wide receiver with more than 11 catches was Cameron Smith (41). Point being, there's still a lot to learn about ASU's stable of receivers. Running back D.J. Foster had 62 catches last season and is a proven commodity, but even though he figures to play more receiver next year that won't account for Strong's absence. At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Ellis Jefferson has comparable size to Strong and after serving as his primary backup last year will be one of the main candidates to step into a similar role. Eric Lauderdale (6-2, 190) remains an intriguing prospect after redshirting last year, too. The junior college transfer received a four-star grade and was the No. 3 receiver in the country coming out of Saddleback College following the 2013 season.