There aren’t many drawbacks to making the College Football Playoff in the final season of your Hall of Fame head coach’s career, but there are a few. Despite a late jump on the hiring cycle Alabama still got the hottest name in the country, but the bigger of the late hire was missing out on the movement in the transfer portal.
Kalen DeBoer settled in and grabbed six quality players from the portal. Still, with 30 outgoing transfers, the Crimson Tide are left with a roster that has the potential to be the weakest since Nick Saban got the program rolling well over a decade ago.
Saban handed DeBoer a full cupboard, loaded with four and five-stars, but with some massive departures and no time to fill every hole, Alabama is left with a few positions of need on the roster as Spring practices approach. Impressively and crucially, Alabama’s new regime was able to keep Jalen Milroe in Tuscaloosa, so quarterback won’t be one of them
Let’s look at Bama’s roster and the places where DeBoer will either need to trust an inexperienced player to emerge into a big role or find a transfer in the 15-day portal window which opens on May 1.
Alabama’s offensive line was a big problem at the beginning of last season, but it was also a very young group. Well, with some systematic changes from former offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and natural growth from young players, the line became a strength just in time for the SEC Championship game.
The interior of the line is largely sticking together with left guard Tyler Booker and right guard Jaeden Roberts both sticking around for Year 1 of the Kalen DeBoer era. DeBoer also brought his freshman All-American center, Parker Brailsford with him from Washington, to replace Seth McLaughlin, who transferred to Ohio State.
The problems for Bama are on the outside. Right tackle JC Latham is heading for the NFL and left tackle Kadyn Proctor has transferred to Iowa. That leaves the Crimson Tide very inexperienced on the offensive line.
Getting the tackle spots right is crucial in DeBoer’s offense because it’s so often predicated on deep passing, and DeBoer doesn’t have Michael Penix Jr. at quarterback anymore. Jalen Milroe is an excellent deep passer, but he lacks the pocket instincts that allowed Penix to take just 12 sacks all of 2023.
Conversely, Milroe was sacked 45 times and had an average time to throw of 3.45 seconds, which was nearly a whole second longer than Penix’s 2.68 seconds.
Outside of Proctor and Latham, redshirt sophomore Elijah Pritchett played 95 snaps at left tackle in his redshirt freshman season and Miles McVay played 28 snaps at right tackles as a true freshman, in a redshirt season.