Spring preview: Tide defensive front

February 16, 2017

Turnover will force more new faces into the Alabama lineup this fall around the defensive front than anywhere else on the field, and spring drills are where the replacements will begin to take hold.

The Crimson Tide says goodbye to five players off the defensive front who will be selected in the 2017 NFL Draft: Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson, Tim Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. That leaves Da'Ron Payne and Shaun Dion Hamilton as the only returning regulars, and Hamilton will be coming off a season-ending knee injury.

In other words, there are some wide-open opportunities.

The Crimson Tide has a few other returning defensive front men who played extensively on a rotational basis last year. As such, two players are the rightful beginning of any conversation about likely starters: LB Rashaan Evans, DL Da'Shawn Hand.

Others who seen enough game-action to give the coaching staff an idea of their game-day impact include LBs Anfernee Jennings and Keith Holcombe.

Watch out for: LB Christian Miller, DL Joshua Frazier, LB Terrell Hall, LB Mack Wilson and DL Raekwon Wilson.

Don't sleep on: DL Quinnen Williams, LB Ben Davis, LB Dylan Moses (early enrollee), DL Isaiah Buggs (early enrollee).

Who steps in for Allen? Look for Hand to get a chance to fill Allen's role as a versatile inside/outside option who can play some defensive end on early downs, and move inside to a tackle position on passing downs.

Will Hamilton be ready? Don't expect more than limited participation in the spring, if any at all, from the Tide's weakside vet.

 

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