BYU's strongest position group headed into 2017 is most likely the linebackers.
That should come as little surprise given the Cougars' history at that position with players like Rob Morris and Kyle Van Noy. This year's group is looking to make a little history of their own against a front-loaded schedule.
Here's a breakdown of BYU's linebackers:
Harvey Langi: The Utah transfer moved from running back to linebacker, and the move paid off, as Langi is now the highest-paid undrafted free agent. As a senior, Langi made 57 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.
Projected depth chart
Starters: Fred Warner, Butch Pau'u, Francis Bernard
Key backups: Morgan Unga, Adam Pulsipher, Isaiah Kaufusi, Johnny Tapusoa
What's not to like about BYU's linebackers? The Cougars return all three of their starters from last season, and that trio combined for 249 tackles, 23.0 tackles for loss and seven interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns.
That's a solid place to start.
Warner's a dangerous player both in the backfield and now in defending the pass. He had six pass breakups and made three picks, including one returned for a touchdown. While his sack numbers went down a bit from 4.0 as a sophomore to 1.5 as a junior, Warner still picked up 10.5 tackles for loss. Expect great things from Warner as he looks to impress NFL scouts this season.
Pau'u is an absolute beast as a middle linebacker. He made 83 tackles last season despite missing three games, including 19 in a single game against UCLA. Look for him to build on his 7.0 tackles for loss last season.
Bernard was shifted from offense to defense last season and the move paid off. Despite the transition, he made 80 tackles, including 16 against Mississippi State. Like Warner, Bernard made three picks and returned one to the house. He made 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. We'll see how those numbers improve now that he's had a full year at his new position.
Unga made a mark last season on special teams when he blocked a punt against UMass. Pulsipher had a good day against Toledo with Pau'u out, making eight tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss.
Redshirt freshman Kaufusi had a great spring, as he made two interceptions during the spring game. You can see film of both picks below:
Like his brothers before him, this Kaufusi is a player to watch.
Pulsipher saw some action last season when Pau'u was unavailable due to injury. He had a good day against Toledo with eight tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. He's a key backup in the middle and should see the field. Tapusoa saw action in nine games last year and should contribute this season at middle linebacker as needed.
Other linebackers returning with playing experience include Phillip Amone, who made eight tackles in four games last season, including five against Michigan State. Scott Huntsman used his redshirt last season after picking up a couple of tackles as a freshman back in 2015. Va'a Niumatalolo, son of Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, also got some limited playing time in four games last season and made four tackles.
Finally, we have those who have yet to take the field at the college level. Garrett England has returned from a mission to Italy. Will Sedgwick is another returned missionary who could make an instant impact. Rylee Gautavai made a pick in spring practice.
In short, the starting three look fantastic, and there are plenty of up-and-coming players looking to make their mark next season. Once again, it looks like the linebacker position is going be the strength of this Cougar defense.
Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and KSL.com. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.