Alabama Football: Lose six starters to NFL and be better on defense in 2024?

Alabama Football has a large amount of 2023 defensive production to replace. Is it possible the returning talent pool is so good and so deep, the '24 defense could become better than the 2023 one?
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Foremost on the minds of Crimson Tide fans are questions about Alabama's 2024 offense. Though given less attention, there is at least, an equally important, other unanswered question. What about the Tide defense that will lose at minimum six starters, and the number is seven if Trezman Marshall is included?

By most estimations, losing six or more starters qualifies as a rebuild. Even if 'rebuild' is the correct definition, could it be possible that a rebuilt 2024 Alabama Football defense might be better than the 2023 version? Before suggesting an answer, let's take a close look at what is being lost from the 2023 roster.

Three Crimson Tide defenders, Dallas Turner, Terrion Arnold, and Kool-Aid McKinstry are projected as first-round selections in the 2024 NFL Draft. In addition, Chris Braswell is projected as a second-round pick.

Along with those projected Draft picks, the Crimson Tide is also losing Justin Eboigbe, Jalen Key, and Trezman Marshall. The seven players provided big chunks of key defensive performance in the 2023 season. Check out those details below.

Alabama Football Lost Defensive Production

  • Alabama Football made 889 total tackles in the 2023 season. The seven exiting defenders made 367 of those tackles. That is 41.3% of total tackles lost.
  • The Crimson Tide made 84 tackles for a loss, with the seven players accounting for 52, and 61.9% of the total.
  • Included in the tackles for a loss were 40 sacks. Players leaving the roster made 29.5 of those sacks and 73.8% of the total.
  • In quarterback hurries produced the total team count for 2023 was 51, with 25, or 49% coming from the exiting players.
  • In pass breakups, the total team number was 48, with 23 or 47.9% coming from the exiting players.
  • In interceptions the total team number was 12, with seven or 58.3% coming from the exiting players.

With so much lost production we can be sure Nick Saban will many times describe the 2024 Crimson Tide Defense as a 'work-in-progress.' Due to a demanding 2024 schedule, including Georgia in September, the progress will need to be made quickly.

What Crimson Tide fans can hope and possibly expect is for the 2024 defense to better than the 2023 defense. Outstanding football players have moved on, but the depth of talent behind them is exceptional. The biggest challenges will come at edge rusher and cornerback, but the pool of former 5-Star, and highly rated 4-Star players is deep. However much optimism there is, it will be diminished if Malachi Moore decides to move on to the NFL.

Note: Alabama player stats from