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2014 Pac-12 unit rankings - defensive backs: Stanford and UCLA secondaries loaded with talent

Not the strongest year in the conference for returning talent in defensive backfields.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Stanford (S Jordan Richards, CB Alex Carter, CB Wayne Lyons, S Kyle Olugbode)

Not a strong year for secondaries in the conference, but the Cardinal have three potential first round picks in theirs, led by seasoned stalwart Richards. Carter and Lyons had some growing pains last season, but they are physical beasts that are ready to step up next season and become the conference's best one-two punch at the position before becoming high NFL Draft picks.

2. UCLA (S Anthony Jefferson, S Randall Goforth, CB Fabian Moreau, CB Ishmael Adams, S Tahaan Goodman)

A young, deep and talented group, the fruits of Jim Mora's recent recruiting labor are paying off as the Bruins are bursting at the seams with former elite recruits in their secondary. Jefferson and Goforth are the experienced leaders in the back, but Moreau, Adams and Goodman are stars in the making that make the unit deep with unlimited potential.

3. Arizona (S Jared Tevis, CB Jonathan McKnight, S Tra'Mayne Bondurant, S Jordan Grandon, CB Devin Holiday)

Another deep, but very experienced unit, the Arizona secondary is anchored by players like Tevis, McKnight and Bondurant who have been mainstays of Rich Rodriguez' defense. All three are seasoned veterans that are amongst the best at their positions in the conference.

4. Oregon State (CB Steven Nelson, S Ryan Murphy, S Tyrequek Zimmerman, CB Larry Scott)

An underappreciated group that lost Rashaad Reynolds but gets back conference interception leader Nelson and two very talented veteran safeties that could form the best safety combo in the conference. This is quietly a very talented unit.

5. Oregon (CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, S Erick Dargan, CB Dior Mathis, S Tyree Robinson)

Oregon's unit is headlined by one of the nation's best defensive backs in Ekpre-Olomu, but he is the only returning starter. However, this group is still very strong as Dargan and Mathis were excellent in reserve roles and should excel as starters.

6. USC (CB Josh Shaw, S Su'a Cravens, CB Kevon Seymour, S Leon McQuay III)

Not a deep group here, but the top-level talent is excellent. Cravens has the potential to be the top safety in the nation very soon and Shaw is a first-round talent and don't forget about McQuay and Seymour who have unlimited potential themselves.

7. Utah (S Brian Blechen, S Eric Rowe, CB Davion Orphey, CB Reggie Porter)

The return of Blechen really bolsters this group and Rowe is an all-conference standout as well. Orphey and Porter are coming along, but still have a ways to go.

8. Washington (CB Marcus Peters, S Kevin King, S Trevor Walker, CB Jermaine Kelly)

The Huskies are very similar to the Ducks in the secondary as they return one stud cornerback but no other starters. Peters is a legitimate All-American candidate and first round pick, but the rest of the players around him are lightly experienced and taking on much larger roles as unknown talents.

9. Colorado (S Jered Bell, CB Greg Henderson, CB Kenneth Crawley, S Tedric Thompson)

This might be the strongest unit on the board for the Buffaloes as they have a good amount of experience and talent here. There are no stars here, but Bell, Crawley and Henderson have a good amount of experience and their pass defense could really help the Buffs turn things around.

10. Arizona State (S Damarious Randall, S Marcus Ball, CB Lloyd Carrington, CB Rashad Wadood)

Like almost all of their defense, the Sun Devils are rebuilding in their secondary, but the cupboards are not bare. Randall saw a bunch of time and excelled in 2013 and Ball was poised to start at safety as a true freshman before getting injured going into 2013, so expectations are high.

11. Cal (CB Cameron Walker, S Michael Lowe, S Avery Sebastian, S Stefan McClure)

The Bears defense was awful last year,  but this unit could end up being much better than anticipated. Each of these players was a solid recruit that could easily live up to his potential and getting Sebastian back from injury after sitting out all of 2013 is a major boon.

12. Washington State (CB DaQuawn Brown, S Taylor Taliulu, S Isaac Dotson, CB Marcellus Pippins)

The Cougars only return one full-time starter from 2013 in Taliulu and have only one other player with major experience in Brown. Brown far and away has the most potential, looking like a future star at times as a true freshman in 2013.