Projecting Alabama's 2016 two-deep depth chart
Alabama fans have good reason to be excited about the 2016 football season.
The Crimson Tide, in returning to defend its 2015 championship, won’t be doing so with an all-new cast of characters, particularly after Eddie Jackson, Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and O.J. Howard all announced they would return for this fall. And Bama will return a few other familiar names in key spots as well.
That doesn’t mean there’s not work to be done. Three of Alabama’s starting 22 in 2015 will be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft this spring, and that doesn’t even count Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry.
So, with all that in mind, we can speculate a little about Bama’s two-deep for 2016. Bear in mind that it’s not even yet National Signing Day, so we have no idea what will come of the offseason in terms of recruiting and the typical off-field drama (arrests, school transfers, position changes, etc).
Here goes nothing:
QB — Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett
RB — Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris
WR — Calvin Ridley, Daylon Charlot
WR — Ardarius Stewart, Cam Sims
WR — Robert Foster, Derek Kief
TE — O.J. Howard, Hale Hentges
LT — Cam Robinson, Korren Kirven
LG — Ross Pierschbacher, Dallas Warmack
C — J.C. Hassenauer, Brandon Kennedy
RG — Alphonse Taylor, Lester Cotton
RT — Charles Baldwin, Brandon Greene
Takeaways: Alabama is suddenly flush with pass-catching talent at four different spots on the field (provided good health) and will be complementing that with its third starting quarterback in three seasons. It’s fair to assume Lane Kiffin will spend all summer thinking of inventive ways to get these guys the ball, but he’ll have to do so with another new arm in the backfield. Bateman, of course, will be the projected favorite to win the nod (owing to whatever it was that earned him the start in Bama’s loss to Ole Miss this past season), which means Tide fans could see an attack with more tempo this season. However, the uber-talented Blake Barnett could also land the starting job. This will all depend on the offensive line, certainly, which returns three starters from a unit that was shaky at times in 15.
DE — Jonathan Allen, Quinnen Williams
DT — Daron Payne, Joshua Frazier
DE — Da’Shawn Hand, Dalvin Tomlinson
JACK — Tim Williams, Christian Miller
SAM — Ryan Anderson, Rashaan Evans
MLB — Shaun Dion Hamilton, Keith Holcombe
WLB — Reuben Foster, Adonis Thomas
CB — Marlon Humphrey, Maurice Smith
SS — Eddie Jackson, Shawn Burgess-Becker
FS — Ronnie Harrison, Hootie Jones
STAR — Maurice Smith, Kendall Sheffield
Takeaways: Expect to see a lot of guys on this list get air time in Alabama’s first two weeks (vs. USC in Dallas and at home against Western Kentucky), as Saban and Jeremy Pruitt feel around for the right combinations at various positions. The linebacker spot is, of course, the primary concern — Reggie Ragland did many things at the “Mike” spot that can’t really be quantified, while also leading the team in tackles and generally being the guy who ran things. Equally important will be the defensive tackle spot. A’Shawn Robinson might have been the best interior defensive football player in the NCAA in 2015, and his presence inside allowed Alabama to play more people in coverage (since Robinson could control the interior basically by himself), while also freeing up people like Anderson and Williams to rush the passer with abandon.