2015 Alabama Crimson Tide Position by Position Breakdown

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Apr 18, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman O.J. Smith (91) blocks Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Isaac Luatua (68) during the A-day game at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

– Key Departures: Brandon Ivory (senior), Dee Liner (left team)
– Key Returners: A’Shawn Robinson (junior), Jarran Reed (senior), DJ Pettway (senior), Jonathan Allen (junior)
– Key Newcomers: Daron Payne (true freshman)

Defensive line may be the deepest all-around position in terms of experience and talent on the entire Alabama roster. A’Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen, Jarren Reed, and DJ Pettway have all started on the line and all are All-SEC quality players. Despite this fact, this group got absolutely mauled in the Sugar Bowl by Ohio State. It was something that the players and coaches have taken personally and is just flat out unacceptable for a group this loaded.

A’Shawn Robinson is the best player on the line and is considered the top NFL prospect amongst his peers here. He is most effective on the outside as a defensive end where he can play both the run and the pass as a pass rusher. He spent the majority of 2014 playing on the inside as a nose tackle where he was pretty much a space eater. His burst off the ball and penetration makes him a top quality nose tackle as well. In 2015 he and Jarran Reed will likely go back and forth between playing defensive end/defensive tackle and playing nose tackle together. Reed was the most productive player on the line last year leading all of his teammates on the line in tackles and is unbelievably strong, similar to Robinson.

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Jonathan Allen is probably the best pass rusher among the group. When Alabama moves to a four man front, he moves to the outside as a defensive end and is excellent there. He and DJ Pettway are the other two of what you could consider the starting group here.

The second unit in Alabama’s constantly rotating defensive line is just as talented with Dalvin Tomlinson, Josh Frazier, and Da’Shawn Hand as the next in line behind the starters. Tomlinson is beastly strong and Frazier is more of a pure nose tackle while Hand is similar to Allen as a pass rusher. Depth will be a key for this group and what will help Alabama have the top defense in the country in my opinion.

Next: Reggie Ragland returns for his senior season to anchor the linebackers. We tell you who we expect to step up and help. Click here for more.