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2016 UCLA Football Fall Preview: Bruin Defensive Backs Should Be Best In Pac-12

UCLA's secondary was the best in the conference last season and it should be even better this year.

NCAA Football: Colorado at UCLA Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

If there was a bright spot on the UCLA defense last season, the secondary was it. While the Bruin run defense was awful last season, the pass defense was the opposite.

UCLA's pass defense improved and was the best in the conference last season.

Of course, that doesn't explain whether it was because the pass defense was better or whether it was because teams just opted to run the ball more against UCLA. One stat that may be telling is that the UCLA defense improved the opponents pass completion percentage from 61.6% in 2014 to 57.1% last season.

That is most likely the result of the play of the secondary and it means that the secondary was the strongest unit on the defense last season. It should be a strong unit again this season because almost the entire unit is back again this season.

Personnel Changes

The only players who saw significant time and do not return this season are Justin Combs and Erick Zumwalt who both graduated. The only other "loss" in the secondary comes from the shift of Ishmael Adams from defense to offense.

Here's the current roster of defensive backs.

No. Name Height Weight Year
2 Jaleel Wadood 5-10 175 Jr.
3 Randall Goforth 5-10 190 R-Sr.
6 Adarius Pickett 5-11 190 R-So.
7 John Johnson 5-09 180 R-Jr.
9 Marcus Rios 5-11 185 R-Sr.
10 Fabian Moreau 6-01 200 R-Sr.
15 Brandon Burton 6-01 200 Fr.
17 DeChaun Holiday 6-02 220 R-Fr.
18 Octavius Spencer 5-11 170 So.
20 Leni Toailoa 6-01 200 Fr.
21 Tahaan Goodman 6-02 195 Sr.
22 Nate Meadors 6-01 190 So.
23 Will Lockett 5-11 175 R-Fr.
24 Charles Dawson 5-09 185 Sr.
25 Denzel Fisher 6-01 185 R-So.
26 Jason Baker 6-01 170 R-Fr.
28 Keyon Riley 6-02 190 Fr.
31 Colin Samuel 6-02 195 R-Fr.
33 Dylan Luther 05-11 190 R-Jr.

There are only three new names in the secondary and, considering how deep this group is, I wouldn't be surprised to see all three of them redshirt this year. Leni Toailoa is probably the least likely to redshirt, but if there are injuries you could also see Brandon Burton or Keyon Riley on the field this year. The most realistic scenario, though, would be to redshirt these three newcomers.

Projected Depth Chart

While the starters can be predicted easily, the rest of the depth chart is not easy to come up with, if only, because there are just so many DBs on the team.

But, I'll give this a try anyway.

Cornerback Safety Safety Cornerback
Fabian Moreau Randall Goforth Jaleel Wadood Marcus Rios
John Johnson Tahaan Goodman Adarius Pickett Nate Meadors
Denzel Fisher Octavius Spencer DeChaun Holiday Colin Samuel

Of course, all of this is dependent on the results of Fall Camp. With so many good defensive backs on the roster, they will push each other to continue getting better. The depth of this unit is so good that it should be able to withstand the loss of a couple of guys, should injuries occur. And, worst case scenario, they can always bring Ishmael Adams back over from offense if more depth is needed.

Regardless, look for this unit to continue to be one of the best on this year's team.

Go Bruins!!!