49 days to football: Which position is WSU's strongest?

WSU Athletic Communications

We know it's not the offensive line, but which position group is WSU's best?

The Cougars have a few glaring question marks heading into next season, most notably along the offensive line, but they also have their strengths. The receiver group is deep and talented. The defensive line went from a major liability to a strength last season while the linebackers developed nicely as well.

But which of those, or any other unit, is WSU's most talented position group?

I suspect a lot of people will gravitate towards wide receiver. Gabe Marks and Dominique Williams had their moments last season and many in the fan base seem to be extremely high on Vince Mayle and his ability to make an instant impact. There is definitely a lot of potential in the wide receiver corps, but there is too much inconsistency for me to call it WSU's best group. Williams and Marks were each good for half a season. Mayle hasn't played a down of Division 1 football yet and while he was active for a freshman, Brett Bartolone averaged a putrid 4.9 yards per target last season.

Instead, I'm going with the linebacker corps, which is deep and talented even though it lost Travis Long. We already know I think Darryl Monroe is WSU's best player, so that is a very good place to start. It goes beyond Monroe, however, as the linebacker two-deep is as stacked as it's been in a very long time. Cyrus Coen was impressive last season, earning a starting role despite being walk-on. He made lot of plays, both in the run game and in pass coverage. Justin Sagote made an immediate impact as a junior college transfer and will help solidify the middle along with Monroe.

He's no Travis Long and injuries are somewhat of a concern, but Logan Mayes will be given the keys to the car at BUCK. He struggled at times last season playing defensive end, but will now be in a more natural position. Mayes has proven to be an impressive pass rusher in limited action and will now be able to do that for 60 snaps a game. Junior college transfer Ivan McLennan will also see some action at BUCK and could be a significant contributor right away.

While the starters are solid, WSU also has some depth. McLennan and Kache Palacio are set to back up Mayes at Buck. Eric Oertel is a solid No. 2 at SAM and Tana Pritchard and Chester Su'a add depth behind Sagote. The one issue, is the backup MIKE linebacker where Jared Byers backs up Monroe. Byers did an excellent job transitioning from full back to linebacker last season, but is still somewhat limited and inexperienced.

I'm taking the linebackers, but which position do you think is WSU's strongest?

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