SEC Position Preview, Rankings: Defensive Linemen
Here's one of the bad things about Nick Saban suddenly having a weakness on the roster among his position groups.
And by bad, we mean for the other teams.
When Saban makes a position group a top priority, usually because Alabama is suddenly short-handed and it wasn't a good year in terms of talent, he's known for coming back with an elite group.
We're talking about exceptional talent, and he usually gets it because suddenly there's a position where an incoming top prospect feels he can make an immediate impact.
It explains a lot about what's going to happen this season with the Crimson Tide's defensive line.
Over the last five years Alabama went from being absolutely stacked up front to struggling to fill its rotation. We're talking A'Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson, Da'Ron Payne, Da'Shawn Hand and Quinnen Williams coupled with prize prospects Eyabi Anoma and Antonio Alfano make quick exits.
Alabama, which started two true freshmen on the line for most of last season, has completely restocked up-front, plus loaded this last recruiting class full of complementary pass-rushers.
Sports Illustrated recently named Alabama DLU (and LBU, RBU, etc. see video below), and this group should have the chance to stand out both in the league and nationally.
LaBryan Ray has back at one end spot after being sidelined with a lower leg injury. DJ Dale is set at nose tackle. Christian Barmore is the breakout frontrunner, although Byron Young was eventually the base replacement for Ray. It includes Ishmael Sopsher, Justin Eboigne, Stephon Wynn Jr., Phidarian Mathis, and Braylen Ingraham.
That's three-deep already without including the new freshmen.
The only group that can compare in the SEC belongs to Georgia. The Bulldogs have seven players who notched at least 1.5 tackles for a loss, and five who redshirted, back this season. Jordan Davis is the middle and Malik Herring leads the unit. Travon Walker also returns, while Julian Rochester is a full year off knee surgery.
LSU is another program that has a lot of talent, but the Tigers and their counterparts at Auburn have a lot of retooling to do. Massive Tyler Shelvin is the man to watch in Baton Rouge.
Auburn lost a lot, including Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe and Gary Walker, but Big Kat Bryant and Derick Hall figure to step up and have bigger roles. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele might still have an eight-man rotation when its all said and done.
SEC Position Rankings: Defensive Line
(Top half only)
6. Texas A&M
7. Mississippi State
This is the sixth story in a series that will appear throughout June, previewing SEC position groups for the 2020 season.