Alabama Football: Tide to have most d-line depth in SEC

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football may or may not have the best defensive line in the SEC come November but it stands to have the most depth.

Right from the start let’s acknowledge, Alabama football will open the season with a less talented front three than last season. Replacing Quinnen Williams is a difficult proposition with guaranteed dropoff, whoever starts in his place as defensive tackle.

While not at Quinnen’s level, replacing Isaiah Buggs creates another hole to be filled in the defensive front. So we are quite willing to stipulate when the season starts, Alabama football will not have the best defensive line in the SEC. Not even reluctantly, we’ll give that distinction to the Auburn Tigers.

We are not as willing to cede to the Tigers superiority for the entire season. By November the two teams will have very different units and the Crimson Tide’s young depth will be an equalizing factor.

Not everyone agrees Auburn will open the season with the best d-line in the SEC. About a month ago, 247Sports released a rating of the Top 10 defensive lines for the coming season. That list had the Crimson Tide with the best 2019 defensive line in the SEC, followed by LSU and then Auburn. For those curious, the ranking had Michigan State at No. 1, followed by Utah, Clemson, Alabama, Penn State, Syracuse, LSU, Auburn, Iowa and Tulane. Yes, Tulane was No. 10. We fail to understand why.

What we consider a more credible source on this subject is Phil Steele. He rates Tulane at No. 26.  Steele’s Top 10 are Utah, Auburn, Alabama, Michigan State, Clemson, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Penn State and Florida.

The Tigers return all but two of their defensive front players from last season. Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe are a formidable core. There is plenty of experience behind them. We are not sure how talented the depth is. Going six deep, maybe even seven deep, should not be a problem for the Tigers. Beyond that, there is a talent dropoff.

The late season advantage the Alabama Crimson Tide can have is a unit that can go eight deep and even deeper if Nick Saban chooses. Development of youth will be the key for the Tide. How well and how fast the young roster can progress remains to be seen.

What is beyond question is the Tide’s talent level. Check out the list below of guys who are expected to be physically ready to contribute in 2019.

  1. Senior, Raekwon Davis
  2. Junior, LaBryan Ray
  3. Sophomore, Phidarian Mathis
  4. Freshman, D.J. Dale
  5. Senior, Tevita Musika
  6. Redshirt Freshman, Christian Barmore
  7. Redshirt Freshman, Stephon Wynn
  8. Freshman, Justin Eboigbe
  9. Freshman, Byron Young
  10. Freshman, Ishmael Sopsher
  11. Freshman, Antonio Alfano

Only freshman, Braylen Ingraham is likely to need a year in the weight room before being ready for SEC competition.

Not every one of the 11 players listed above will see significant time in 2019. Musika’s role might be limited to short-yardage, run-stuffing. One or two of the freshmen will not see much of the field unless the unit becomes depleted by injuries.

That still leaves a unit, that in November, December and January, can go eight or nine deep. It will be somewhat short on experience, but it will not be lacking in talent. It could even be the best in the SEC.

Next. Stats show where Tide must improve. dark

It will be very interesting how deep is the rotation Nick Saban chooses to use in the early games. We should all watch how quickly or how slowly he gets the d-line freshmen involved.