With shaky guard depth, Big Jack Meiners is pretty damn valuable to this year's team. (Photo via Bill Carter.)
So every time I end up talking to someone about Missouri's 2012 football season, I end up saying some version of exactly the same thing: as long as James Franklin and Sheldon Richardson are healthy, I'm pretty optimistic about the fall. Missouri has a few probable wins (SE Louisiana, Arizona State, Syracuse, Kentucky and probably Vanderbilt, since it's at home), a couple of probable losses (@South Carolina, Alabama), and five games that are at least relatively close to tossups (Georgia, @UCF, @Tennessee, @Florida, @A&M). This season could go in many different directions, in other words.
But since I always start with Franklin and Richardson, I thought it would be interesting to create a longer list of the most important, least replaceable players. (Note: that's different than saying "best.") And, of course, I want to see your list as well.
Franklin is obvious enough -- he's really good, and he's the only quarterback on the roster who has taken a snap in a real game. If he goes down (again), my 2012 goal drops simply to "bowl eligibility by any means necessary." Richardson and Vincent both make the list because I'm terrified of the depth at tackle (at least until I see Harold Brantley in action). I like the backup cornerbacks a decent amount, but Gaines is just so damn good that he makes the list. But the fifth spot was a tossup. I like T.J. Moe, obviously, but I love Mizzou's receiver depth. I think Elvis Fisher and Justin Britt are the team's best linemen, but I like the tackle depth a decent amount. So I went with Meiners because the interior depth appears a little shakier. Either Meiners or Travis Ruth could go here. I'm sure I'd come up with a different No. 5 if I did this an hour from now.
Anyway, your list?