Alabama Football: Five Takeaways from the 2016 Depth Chart

Oct 3, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter at Sanford Stadium. Alabama defeated Georgia 38-10. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter at Sanford Stadium. Alabama defeated Georgia 38-10. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama football head coach Nick Saban released the Tide depth chart ahead of the USC game. Here are five takeaways from what was listed.

ICYMI: Depth Chart Out, Bateman, and Barnett to Play vs USC

It’s officially Depth Chart Day for Alabama football and there are a few surprises listed.

Earlier today, Nick Saban surprised an awful lot of people – including some of us here at Bama Hammer — when he announced that Jalen Hurts would be the third string quarterback.

Most believed that Cooper Bateman would start, and barring something unforeseen, he will. But there was a growing sentiment, both from fans and the media, that Hurts would be the backup, and that he would play meaningful snaps against the Trojans.

It looks like neither will prove true. Hurts’ talent is unmistakable, and the praise he’s received from coaches, media, and fans has been well deserved. But in the end his inexperience was too much to overcome.

Here are the takeaways from the 2016 Alabama football depth chart.

Alabama is uncharacteristically thin on the defensive line.

Most fans expected the Tide to have depth issues at this spot. But with Raekwon Davis and Jamar King not listed on the depth chart, it’s even thinner than expected. Davis, a true freshman with unlimited potential, has not yet been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. He has gotten plenty of reps during camp, and will likely play if eligible, but his status for the season remains unknown. The absence of King, a JUCO transfer, is a bit more surprising. Alabama will play more than six defensive lineman, so King will almost certainly play. But many expected him to earn a spot in the two-deep.

The Offensive Line Should Be Improved. 

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It may take a few games for the offensive line to hit its collective stride. But on paper, this unit appears to be more talented than last season’s. Cam Robinson, a certain top 15 pick in the 2017 NFL draft, is a year older and stronger. Bradley Bozeman has experience as a starting center. And Ross Pierschbacher’s move to right guard means that Alabama won’t have two new starters playing on the right side of the line. Lester Cotton, a road grader at left guard, and Jonah Williams, a true freshman who took the right tackle spot almost from day one, round out the first unit. Ryan Kelly will be missed, but overall, this unit has the potential to be even better than last year’s unit.

 Dakota Ball and Anthony Averett Prove Patience Is A Virtue.

Some may be mildly surprised when they see Dakota Ball’s name on the two-deep at defensive line. He was, after all, a tight end last season. But for the past couple of weeks, the buzz has been that he’d earn playing time in this, his fifth and final year in Tuscaloosa. Averett, a fourth-year junior, will be the starting cornerback in both the nickel and dime packages, which makes him a key figure in the Tide secondary this season. These are the kinds of kids who earn the respect of their teammates, both for their patience and hard work – as well as their loyalty to the team. Kudos to both these young men.

For Game One At Least, the Tide’s Running Back Committee Is A Committee of Two.

It’s not that freshmen B.J. Emmons and Joshua Jacobs won’t play this season – at least one of them, if not both, almost certainly will. But Saban made it clear that, at least for game one, the bulk of the load will be shared by Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris. Ball security and blitz pick-ups are crucial elements for any Saban running back. Expect Emmons or Jacobs or both to see action once they become more familiar with the intricacies of the offense. Because their talent as runners is already there.

The Tide Is Loaded At The Skill Positions. 

No shocker here, really. But when you actually look at the depth chart and see the names listed, you have to at least consider it to be the best collection of skill position talent Alabama has had in quite some time. Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart at wide receiver; O.J. Howard at tight end; Marlon Humphrey, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Harrison and Eddie Jackson at defensive back. All eight are future NFL players, and most of them have first round talent. Throw in two freshmen — Shy Carter, who is Fitzpatrick’s backup at corner, along with do-everything player Trevon Diggs, who is scheduled to start at kickoff returner — and it’s an embarrassment of riches, not only for this season, but for the foreseeable future.

Next: Bama Hammer Staff College Football Playoff Prediction

The time for all the talking will soon be over and we will finally get to see these standouts on the field.