Taking an early look into the future, here is the Gopher starting defense in 2018.

The Gophers have loads of young talent at linebacker and in their secondary. If they can develop and recruit on the defensive line they could have a devastating defense in 2018.

Defensive Line

http://www.scout.com/player/204140-taiyon-devers?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/195833-winston-delattiboudere?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/175883-gary-moore?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/200205-joshua-croslen?s=176

Outlook:  This is the one position that the @Gopher staff will have to either develop or recruit the JUCO level in order to keep up with the talent that is behind them at linebacker and in the secondary.  At defensive tackle there is Gary Moore and incoming 2017 recruit Joshua Croslen.  They were pretty much the only option of scholarship players at the position.  Obviously neither is proven, but even if they are developed over the next two years into Big Ten quality tackles the staff will still need depth.  One possibility, and something that has happened before, would be a position switch.  Usually the Gophers bring in linebackers that need to add weight.  That was not the case with Kamal Martin and Thomas Barber.  Could either of those two beef up and eventually grow into a tackle?  Remember former Gopher Greg White?  He did it.  At the defensive end position it is all about development.  The staff took a couple of projects in their 2016 recruiting class in Taiyon Devers and TaMarion Johnson, both have the look of former Gopher Theiren Cockran with major length and athleticism.  I will go with Devers to win the spot and one end along with current redshirt freshman Winston Delattiboudere.  The freshman from Marlyand has been developing in practice with good results and should be ready to take a lead role in 2018.  Another thing to factor in on the defensive line is the success Minnesota will have with a 3-4 look.  If Minnesota has success there would be no doubt that Minnesota would be a full-time 3-4 team in two years.

Linebackers

http://www.scout.com/player/188933-carter-coughlin?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/185617-julian-huff?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/194942-kamal-martin?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/180602-jaylen-waters?s=176

Outlook:  Yes, I know I may be flagged for 12 players in my new 4-4-4 defensive line-up but with Minnesota tinkering with a 3-4 I need to be prepared to start four linebackers in 2018.  As I stated above I wouldn't be shocked if Martin or Barber beef up and end up putting their hand on the ground in the interior, but I lean Barber as that guy more so than Martin.  If these four backers develop the Gophers could sport a dominating group of linebackers in the fall of 2018.  I would love to put Jaylen Waters in the middle with Martin and then let Carter Coughlin and Julian Huff roam the edges to make plays all over the field. Incoming 2017 recruit Kyrei Fisher may be ready to challenge for significant playing time or be counted on to add depth to the position.

 

Secondary

http://www.scout.com/player/167789-ray-buford?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/197398-kiondre-thomas?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/186926-coney-durr?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/194502-antoine-winfield?s=176

Outlook:  The Gophers are going to be filthy in the secondary in two years if the talent that is already in the program continues to develop.  In previous era's I would be drooling over having players as talented as KiAnte HardinJacob HuffAntonio ShenaultAlonzo Craighton and Dior Johnson on the Gopher roster, and now under my 2018 projections they aren't even starters.  Sure a lot can happen in the next two years and I may be off my rocker anyway but I like moving my 2016 recruiting crush Coney Durr to safety.  Watching his film I just feel he would be best suited for playing a center field role and just hang back, read the defense and make plays.  Joining him at the safety spot now is Antoine Winfield but that could easily be Huff or Johnson based on what goes down in the weight room, film room and practice fields over the next 48 months.  My two starting corners are Ray Buford and Kiondre Thomas and I am sure the fans of KiAnte Hardin are confused.  Yes, Hardin is still young and is a solid corner but I love Buford's total game and think Thomas is going to be a star as well.  Wearing the No. 31 jersey Thomas is a clone of former Gopher and current Kansas City Chief Eric Murray, and I think he eventually takes that spot away from Hardin, moving him to the nickel spot.


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