Photo by Jason Caldwell

Projected Auburn Football Depth Chart: Defense

We take a look at what Auburn's first depth chart on defense could look like for the 2016 football season opener vs. Clemson.

Montravius Adams (above) is expected to retain his spot in the starting lineup at defensive tackle.

Auburn, Ala.--With defensive coordinator Kevin Steele taking the reins for the 2016 season the Auburn Tigers are looking to build onto the momentum of the bowl win over Memphis heading into this fall. With a good mix of veterans and plenty of depth on the defensive line, Auburn should be improved on that side of the ball this year.

Here’s our projected look at what the depth chart will look like for the season opener against Clemson with a positional analysis.

END

3 Marlon Davidson (6-3, 273, Fr.) or

9 Byron Cowart (6-3, 276, So.) or

10 Paul James (6-4, 271, Jr.)

 BUCK/END

55 Carl Lawson (6-2, 253, Jr.)

4 Jeff Holland (6-2, 250, So.)

10 Paul James (6-4, 271, Jr.)

TACKLE

1 Montravius Adams (6-4, 309, Sr.)

90 Maurice Swain (6-5, 314, Sr.) or

79 Andrew Williams (6-4, 289, So.)

TACKLE

95 Dontavius Russell (6-3, 308, So.)

94 Devaroe Lawrence (6-2, 303, Sr.)

5 Derrick Brown (6-5, 330, Fr.)


With Coach Rodney Garner expected to go at least 10 deep on the defensive line and maybe even deeper, who starts at end and tackle isn’t nearly as important as who plays the majority of snaps and is on the field at the end of the game. Three of the spots look solid in terms of starting roles with Carl Lawson at end and Montravius Adams and Dontavius Russell in the middle at the tackle spots. Who will start at the other end position is a question, however, with freshman Marlon Davidson, sophomore Byron Cowart and juco transfer Paul James III all pushing to start on the strong side.

The depth is the key for the Tigers in this group with seniors Devaroe Lawrence and Maurice Swain providing maturity in the middle with freshman Derrick Brown and sophomore Andrew Williams providing fresh legs. Freshman Antwuan Jackson is another possibility at tackle.

 

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Byron Cowart has worked hard to be an improved player this season.

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER

49 Darrell Williams (6-2, 231, So.) or

17 T.J. Neal (6-0, 235, Sr.)

48 Montavious Atkinson (6-1, 211, RFr.)

MIDDLE LINEBACKER

30 Tre Williams (6-2, 240, Jr.)

57 DeShaun Davis (5-11, 239, So.)

51 Richard McBryde (6-1, 223, RFr.)

STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER

49 Darrell Williams (6-2, 231, So.)

47 Cameron Toney (6-1, 244, Jr.) or

42 Tre Threat (6-1, 240, Fr.)

 Even though the linebacker position lost three very experienced players, the group is expected to take a step forward under first-year position coach Travis Williams. Tre Williams is back as the player with the most experience at Auburn, but Illinois transfer T.J. Neal comes in with two years of starting experience in the Big 10 under his belt. Neal will battle Darrell Williams for playing time while Tre Williams is expected to share time with DeShaun Davis in the middle. Davis has been one of the biggest surprises on defense.

Behind them Montavious Atkinson has been one of the most productive players on the defense in the preseason scrimmages and may be tough to keep off the field while true freshman Tre Threat has shown the physicality that makes him someone to watch down the road.

 

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Darrell Williams should add athleticism to Auburn's linebacker corps.

SAFETY

19 Nick Ruffin (6-0, 203, Jr.)

11 Markell Boston (6-0, 200, So.)

15 Josh Holsey (5-11, 195, Sr.)

SAFETY

14 Stephen Roberts (5-11, 183, Jr.)

28 Tray Matthews (6-1, 207, Jr.)

13 T.J. Davis (6-0, 190, Sr.)

 The starters at safety could change week to week for Auburn this season depending on the opposition and the style of defense the Tigers want to employ. Juniors Stephen Roberts, Nick Ruffin and Tray Matthews are expected to play plenty this season and with the ability to play either side that gives Auburn extra depth at the position. Senior Josh Holsey could be the wildcard of the group because of his experience with Markell Boston coming on strong.

 

CORNERBACK

6 Carlton Davis (6-1, 195, So.)

22 John Broussard (5-11, 168, Fr.)

36 Michael Sherwood (5-9, 175, Jr.)

 

CORNERBACK

31 Javaris Davis (5-10, 182, RFr.)

15 Josh Holsey (5-11, 195, Jr.) or

26 Marshall Taylor (6-3, 191, Sr.)

 

NICKEL

23 Rudy Ford (6-0, 204, Sr.)

15 Josh Holsey (5-11, 195, Sr.)

 

With the loss of Jamel Dean at the cornerback position due to a knee injury,  the starters heading into the season are set with Carlton Davis and Javaris Davis the top guys for Coach Wesley McGriff. Expected to be one of the best players in the league at his position, Carlton Davis is bigger and stronger in season two while Javaris Davis is perhaps the fastest player on the Auburn roster.

Behind them at corner is where the questions arise. Holsey is splitting time at corner, nickel and safety, but his experience should allow him to perform wherever the coaches ask him to line up. True freshman John Broussard has also been forced into action after possibly heading for a redshirt year. The wildcard is graduate transfer Marshall Taylor.

Starting 22 games the last two seasons for Miami-Ohio, the Cordele, Ga., native was in Auburn for the summer and got a chance to learn the basics of the defense, but missed the first two and a half weeks of camp for personal reasons. Now back with the team, Taylor should help at cornerback this season, but just how quickly that happens remains to be seen.

At the nickel position senior Johnathan Ford is back and will hold down the spot for the Tigers once again after moving there during the 2015 season. Auburn's leading tackler the last two years, Ford's experience is one of the keys on that side of the ball. Also expected to see action there is Holsey, who is the Swiss Army Knife of the defense this season.

 

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Rudy Ford will be a key on defense in addition to his role as a kickoff returner

PUNTER

91 Kevin Phillips (6-0, 185, Sr.)

43 Ian Shannon (6-3, 218, RFr.)

 One of the toughest battles to call is at punter where returning starter Kevin Phillips is getting a challenge from redshirt freshman Ian Shannon. Consistency is the name of the game here with both still struggling with that part of the game in the spring. It won’t be a surprise to see both share the duties early in the season with one handling the regular punting game and the other focusing on the shorter kicks that pin opponents inside their own 20-yard line.

KICKOFF RETURNER

23 Rudy Ford (6-0, 204, Sr.) and 21 Kerryon Johnson (6-0, 211, So.)

10 Stanton Truitt (5-9, 185, So.) and 9 Kam Martin (5-10, 177, Fr.)

PUNT RETURNER

80 Marcus Davis (5-9, 180, Sr.)

31 Javaris Davis (5-10, 182, RFr.)

14 Stephen Roberts (5-11, 183, Jr.)


With plenty of talent and speed Auburn’s return game should be in good hands this season. Ford and Kerryon Johnson are back as kickoff returners and should get much of the action for the Tigers once again, but Stanton Truitt and true freshman Kameron Martin are also players WHO could get a look in the kickoff return game. Marcus Davis is back as the punt returner, but Javaris Davis, Stephen Roberts and even Ryan Davis have all gotten looks there in the preseason.

Projected Offensive Depth Chart

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