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How much should we be worried about NC State’s secondary heading into 2017?

At least a little bit. Maybe a lot.

William & Mary v North Carolina State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

NC State’s defense may have refreshingly few concerns up front, but it does have a lot to prove on the back end, where it will be relying on some inexperienced guys to replace some significant losses. Jack Tocho and Josh Jones are playing with NFL teams these days, while Dravious Wright is hoping to make the St. Louis Los Angeles Rams.

Those three guys brought years of starting experience to NC State’s secondary last season, and unfortunately, the Wolfpack defense is not in great position to replace their contributions. Once you get past corner Mike Stevens and safety Shawn Boone, there are a lot of question marks, and a lot of youth.

It seems certain that State’s pass defense will decline to some degree, and while it was solid last season, it obviously was not the team’s strength on that side of the ball. The extent of that decline could go a long way toward defining the season. Is the decline so significant that it neutralizes some of the strengths NC State has at the point of attack, or is the decline modest enough to allow the defense to pick up where it left off and at the very least maintain its production from last year?

I’m less worried about safety than I am about corner or nickel, but it’s also easy to envision growing pains across the board.

The good news is that half of NC State’s ACC opponents—plus Notre Dame—are breaking in new starting quarterbacks this fall: Clemson, UNC, Boston College, and Pittsburgh. That may ease the pressure on the secondary a bit, though several of the new starters at those schools have the potential to be pretty good.

Regardless, there’s no doubt State needs a few guys who have been unheralded or unnoticed up to this point to have good seasons. Doable, but a major challenge, too.