- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's time for teams to focus on the future. That means replacing all of those holes left by departing seniors and underclassmen.
But which exiting players will be toughest to replace in 2013? ESPN NFL Insider KC Joyner tackled that exact question earlier this week.
When it came to the SEC, Texas A&M's loss of defensive end Damontre Moore and Mississippi State's loss of cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay were chosen as the toughest voids to fill in the SEC this fall.
As far as Moore goes, he was easily the best defender for the Aggies and ended the season as one of the top overall players in the country. He was a game-changer with his speed, strength and versatility and the Aggies will have to replace 21 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks.
Replacing Moore's talent and playmaking skills would be tough for any team, but it makes it that much harder for the Aggies to mask the loss of Moore because of all the other defenders leaving with him. Senior linebackers Sean Porter, Jonathan Stewart and Steven Jenkins will all be gone, and so will senior defensive linemen Spencer Nealy and Jonathan Mathis. That's a lot of missing bodies. As Joyner points out, the Aggies will be losing 23.5 of its 31 total sacks from this past season.
For Mississippi State, the Bulldogs are losing both starting cornerbacks, who at one time were considered the best corner duo in the country. Banks, who had a tremendous career at Mississippi State, won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2012 as the top defensive back, while Slay led the team with five interceptions.
While both struggled in the second half of the season, Joyner has them on because Banks' big-play ability will be missed and Slay coverage skills will be missed. While Banks garnered all of the attention -- and the Thorpe Award -- Slay was a better cover man in 2012. Joyner writes that in nine games against BCS teams, Slay allowed 5.5 yards per attempt with two interceptions, while Banks allowed 11.5 YPA with no interceptions.
Couple that with losing senior Corey Broomfield in the defensive backfield, and the Bulldogs have a lot of work to do in the secondary in 2013.
1112dEdward Aschoff and Chris Low
1418dEdward Aschoff and Chris Low