There is our depth chart, which is an educated prediction as to who will see the field early and often during the 2014 season, and then there is the actual day-to-day Auburn Tigers defensive line depth chart that the coaching staff uses.
According to Joel Erickson at AL.com, yesterday’s first team consisted of Gabe Wright and Eiljah Daniel at defensive end and Angelo Blackson and Ben Bradley at the tackle positions. The second group featured LaDarius Owens and Gimel President at the ends and Montravius Adams and Jeff Whitaker in the middle.
While this may technically be where the depth chart is on day one of fall practice, it is not exactly how we expect it to round into shape before August 30.
|DE||90||Gabe Wright||6-3, 284||Senior||Columbus, GA|
|97||Elijah Daniel||6-2, 263||Sophomore||Avon, IN|
|DT||1||Montravius Adams||6-4, 306||Sophomore||Vienna, GA|
|98||Angelo Blackson||6-4, 306||Senior||Bear, DE|
|DT||50||Ben Bradley||6-1, 303||Senior||Norcross, GA|
|54||Jeff Whitaker||6-4, 322||Senior||Warner Robins, GA|
|DE||10||LaDarius Owens||6-2, 259||Senior||Bessemer, AL|
|86||Davonte Lambert||6-4, 280||Junior||Keysville, GA|
At SEC Media Days, we learned that the knee injury Carl Lawson suffered this spring was more serious than we initially thought. Therefore, the star sophomore underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL and is likely to miss the vast majority of the season – if not all of 2014. With that news, the move of Wright to end was expected.
It appears to be going well, and Wright has slimmed down a bit in anticipation of his new role. The senior saw a significant amount of playing time at end this spring due to injuries, as well as experimentation with the “Rhino Package.” But, we expected Lawson to be back in the fall and Wright to move back inside. That has now changed.
LaDarius Owens, a starter last season who had 30 tackles and five tackles for loss, should re-emerge with the first team. However, Elijah Daniel is very talented, played in all 14 games a season ago, and knows how to get to the quarterback. He registered ten quarterback hurries last season as a true freshman.
That ability is something the unit will desperately need with the loss of Dee Ford. President will certainly see the field as part of the rotation, but expect junior college transfers DaVonte Lambert and Devaore Lawrence to factor in as well.
It was somewhat unexpected to see senior Angelo Blackson working with the first team yesterday, but he is certainly capable. After all, Blackson has started 14 games over the last three seasons. I expect to see Adams join the first group, however, which means Blackson and fellow senior Ben Bradley will compete for the other starting spot.
Adams appeared in 13 games last year as a true freshman and also saw time at end this spring. Bradley started three times in 2013. Also in the mix are Whitaker, JaBrian Niles and Tyler Nero.
Overall, this will be a very fluid situation. Most teams rotate a large number of defensive linemen onto the field during games in order to keep players fresh, and the Tigers are no different. Last season, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson gave eight players a significant role, and played as many as 13 defensive lineman in a single game. Expect more of the same this year.