AU Spring Position Preview: Defensive Tackle

Looking at Auburn's defensive tackle position heading into spring practice on March 10.

Auburn, Ala.--While the need for a pass rusher at end was a huge one in the 2015 recruiting class, Auburn is also in need of help at the defensive tackle position after losing four players off last season’s team. With Angelo Blackson, Ben Bradley, Jeffrey Whitaker and Gabe Wright all gone, the Tigers will need someone to step up alongside Montravius Adams starting this spring.

The good news for Auburn at the position is that Adams is back and could be one of the top defensive linemen in the SEC. Playing in a rotation each of his first two seasons on the Plains, he has totaled 63 tackles with four sacks and nine and a half tackles for a loss. Much of that came a year ago as Adams finished fifth on the team in total tackles with eight stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Now the veteran of his group, Adams will be expected to take his game to another level starting this spring. If he can do that it would take the pressure off the edge rushers and allow his counterpart at the other defensive tackle spot to make some plays in the middle. Just who that other player will be remains to be seen.

One of the best bets to make an early impact this spring is freshman Dontavius Russell. Sitting out last season with so many veterans on campus, Russell was impressive last fall and made a push for playing time before taking his redshirt. At 6-3 and around 290 pound he has the strength and quickness inside to form a solid one-two punch with Adams.

Also back is junior Devaroe Lawrence. Seeing action in only four games with one tackle for a loss, Lawrence is still learning the game of football, but his athletic ability shines through. At 6-2, 285 pounds Lawrence is explosive at the point of attack and could provide some push inside in the pass rush. Getting a spring under his belt should be huge for the inexperienced Lawrence and with more reps he should become a solid defensive tackle at worst and at best he could be a difference-maker.

Devaroe Lawrence is heading into his second season with the Tigers.

The fourth player who looks like a sure bet to see action inside at defensive tackle this spring is junior college transfer Maurice Swain. At 6-5, 305 Swain has the size to hold up against the double teams inside against the run. With Auburn likely going from a four-man front to a three-man front at different times during a game, he is a player who could hunker down at the nose tackle position and eat up space. Also capable of making a play in the backfield, Swain will get an early taste of SEC life this spring, which should help him be ready to go in August.

With four solid options in the spring the Tigers also have a couple of players who have the size and ability to possibly get a look inside this spring. While he will likely be held out of contact drills, Davonte Lambert has all the makings of a future defensive tackle after a successful first year at Auburn as a defensive end. At 293 pounds Lambert should be able to slide inside without much of a problem when he gets back to full strength.

Davonte Lambert will be a senior this fall for the Tigers.

Already with some experience playing inside, Elijah Daniel still needs to add weight to be an every-down tackle, but at 275 pounds he could become a third down inside pass rush specialist once again. That is also the case with Andrew Williams. Redshirting a year ago, the 6-4 Williams is up over 260 pounds and could easily get to 285 in a few years. Built similarly to Jay Ratliff, he could follow that same path to a future home at defensive tackle.

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