Defensive end Damontre Moore had 12.5 sacks for the Aggies after moving from outside linebacker.
After a strong junior season in which he earned first-team All-American honors from several publications and organizations and compiled some of the best statistics in the nation for his position (80 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 20 tackles for loss) in the Southeastern Conference, Moore's draft stock was as high as it has been. It could be argued that he wouldn't be able to elevate his stock higher than it is now.
So where do the Aggies go from here?
The good news is, there's another young defensive end on the roster, one who showed a lot of promise this season: freshman Julien Obioha. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound New Orleans Brother Martin product won the starting job at defensive end opposite Moore and showed flashes of his ability this season, with four quarterback hurries, six pass breakups, a forced fumble, a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
If Obioha continues to improve, one defensive end spot will be solidified for years to come. Next on the depth chart on the left side behind Moore this season was sophomore Tyrell Taylor, who saw action in 10 games this year. Long and lean, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Taylor brings speed and athleticism, though he'll likely have to continue adding weight to hold up in an increased role.
Sophomore Gavin Stansbury, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end, would also be someone to keep an eye on. He also saw action in 10 games this year, collecting nine tackles and a forced fumble.
Two freshmen, Polo Manukainiu and Alonzo Williams, were recruited as defensive ends in the 2012 class. In addressing defensive tackle depth during fall training camp, both received looks at the interior spots, and Williams essentially converted to defensive tackle, but both would be worth looking at for playing time at the end position. Williams saw time in five games this season, while Manukainiu only appeared briefly in the season finale against Missouri.
One player who is worth watching is sophomore Brandon Alexander. A member of the 2011 recruiting class, the Brenham (Texas) High School product came to the Aggies as a highly-touted recruit but did not work his way into the rotation or see the field at all this season. Coming into the year, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said Alexander was "not in our mix", and he never appeared to get into the rotation. Moore's exit is a prime opportunity for someone like Alexander to step in, if he is to turn things around and work his way back into the mix.
In the 2013 recruiting class, the Aggies have one defensive end: Rockwall (Texas) Heath product Jay Arnold. The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder is a four-star recruit and ranked 37th nationally among defensive ends.
They tried to add East Mississippi Community College defensive end Za'Darius Smith to the class but he signed with Kentucky on Dec. 19. Adding Smith would have been a significant addition to the class for this reason -- he has the size and potential that would have given him a chance to step in right away. There is still a possibility the Aggies could add a defensive end to their class, with Lancaster (Texas) High School's Daeshon Hall and Houston Alief Taylor's Torrodney Prevot being possible targets.
While there may not be someone who can step in and produce at the level Moore did in 2012 right away, there are options there and help on the way.