TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — We’re less than two weeks removed from the thrilling Alabama football win over Georgia to win the national title, but it’s never too early to think about next season.
As it does every year, Alabama football will lose a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. However, the Crimson Tide routinely recruit better than any other program in the country and are built to retool instead of rebuild.
This likely will change as we get closer to spring practice, but here’s our best early guess at Alabama’s defensive depth chart.
Note: This does not include 2018 signees.
Starters: Raekwon Davis, Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams — OR — LaBryan Ray
Backups: Phidarian Mathis, Johnny Dwight
Notes: Alabama has a lot of talent to replace with Da’Ron Payne, Da’Shawn Hand and Josh Frazier all moving on. The good thing is that Raekwon Davis will be back to build on a strong sophomore season. Isaiah Buggs’ return gives the Crimson Tide an experienced and talented veteran. Quinnen Williams and LaBryan Ray are young, but both are immensely talented. It’ll come down to finding depth.
Starters: Mack Wilson, Dylan Moses
Backups: Keith Holcombe, Josh McMillon, Markail Benton
Notes: This is a really intriguing duo because both showed an ability to make plays when they were healthy this season. Wilson led the team with 4 interceptions. Moses posted double-digit tackles in the two games (Mercer, Auburn) he started. Both Wilson and Moses dealt with foot injuries. If they’re healthy, Wilson and Moses have the talent to be one of the top linebacker duos in the country.
Starters: Anfernee Jennings, Christian Miller –OR– Terrell Lewis
Backups: Jamey Mosey, Chris Allen, VanDarius Cowan, Ben Davis
Notes: This group dealt with an unthinkable amount of injuries in 2017, so it’s hard to truly evaluate them. If Jennings, Miller and Lewis are able to stay healthy next season, look out. Alabama could rival some of the sack numbers the team posted in 2015 and 2016.
Starters: Saivion Smith, Trevon Diggs, Shyheim Carter (star)
Backups: Jared Mayden, Nigel Knott, Kyriq McDonald
Notes: Smith, a junior college transfer, is a big key to the 2018 secondary. He needs to be able to step in and be an immediate contributor.
Diggs earned a starting spot at the beginning of the 2017 season, but struggled and was replaced by Levi Wallace. To be fair, Diggs was still new at the position so a full year of working at corner should help him next season.
Shyheim Carter seems like an easy fill-in at star considering he has stepped in quite a bit during his first two seasons.
Guys like Jared Mayden, Kyriq McDonald and Nigel Knott have a chance to compete for a starting spot as well, given all the turnover in the secondary.
Starters: Deionte Thompson, Daniel Wright –OR– Xavier McKinney
Backups: Keaton Anderson
Notes: Thompson played lights out in the College Football Playoff after stepping in for the injured Hootie Jones. That experience will be huge as Thompson steps into a bigger role heading into his senior year.
Wright and McKinney both flashed as freshmen and should compete for the other starting spot. Depending on what Alabama does in recruiting, we could see some of the cornerbacks switched to safety. Jared Mayden is a guy who’s worked at both safety and corner.