Ask the Insiders: The Beaver secondary

THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD conversation at Oregon State headed into spring will center around replacing consensus All-America selection Jordan Poyer. And one of the new pieces will be in Corvallis in the spring to try and stake an early claim. Insiders Chad Luther and Drew Wilson-McGrath take a closer look at the Beaver secondary…

Luther: Oregon State went out and picked up a top-notch JC CB in Steven Nelson this class. He came on board in the early signing period and will be in Corvallis for spring. Nelson is a talented PR/KR and may ease the loss of Jordan Poyer.

Rashaad Reynolds has one spot locked up so Nelson will likely battle Sean Martin for the other position.

But are there any young guns look like they might break into the discussion?

Wilson-McGrath: Naji Patrick and Larry Scott are my two guys to watch.

I don't think they are immediate competition for Martin or Nelson at the corner spot – Martin will be a senior alongside Reynolds in 2013 and the duo have a great rapport in practice.

But Patrick brings immense speed to the table, and with some solid play in spring/fall camps could emerge as a solid option at No. 3 and in the various packages run by the Beavs.

If it all plays out the way it was trending last season, Scott will likely take precedence over Patrick however, simply due to physicality against opposing wideouts.

Scott makes sure every yard a receiver picks up is a tough one, and he loves knocking passes out of the sky. The soon-to-be sophomore is the type of player Mike Riley loves to have in his secondary -- and he impressed a whole bunch during OSU's prep for the Alamo Bowl.

Keep an eye on him.

Luther: Will do. I think the thought is that Nelson comes in with a shot to start playing Poyer's role all around, including his hybrid safety/rover role in OSU's dime defense.

Did you see anybody else playing the dime last year who caught your eye? It sounds like Scott would be a natural for the position.

Wilson-McGrath: In regards to Nelson coming in as the next Poyer – the Beavs don't need another Poyer. Poyer was talented, but his talents were spread too thin last year based on perceived need at everything ranging from gunner to corner to kick returner. As a result, he ended the season a mediocre corner IMO – I fully realize others have tabbed him All-America but he didn't impress me the way I thought he would.

I also say this with complete confidence - I don't think OSU needs another player to facilitate the Poyer role/hybrid/whatever-the-heck he was on defense. What they need is another lock down corner who can actually play solid man AND zone coverage, instead of just playing the quarterback's eyes.

The hybrid option you mentioned of safety/rover was a position unique unto Poyer's considerable talents, and should be left alone now that he has graduated. I don't think the skills set matches the personnel.

In reference to the dime package, I say look not for a corner but rather a safety to potentially fill the void left by Poyer.

Cyril Nolan-Lewis was quietly efficient during practices, and he seemed to learn a lot from Poyer, Reynolds and Rod Perry as the season transpired.

Peter Ashton is a stud, and can pretty much play killer ball at any spot in a defensive scheme with the exception of the D-line. He's one to definitely watch, and he's a Riley favorite.

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