Three weeks ago, Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp took stock of his new charges. For the most part, the DC has been positive about what he has to work with in his first season back at the helm at Auburn. What he saw in the secondary was a different story.

“I told our team…we’ve got two safeties and two corners, and one corner’s in a walking boot. That’s not a great situation right now, but that is what it is,” Muschamp said at the end of April, according to The Auburn Villager.

Those two safeties, Johnathan “Rudy” Ford and Tray Matthews, as well as the two corners Jonathan Jones (injured for most of spring practice) and Joshua Holsey are still around heading into the fall.

However, a sizable chunk of the talent that Muschamp hoped would be ready to take the field this fall no longer is.

Last week, Auburn announced three defensive backs had decided to transfer. Derrick Moncrief, Kamryn Melton and Joe Turner made for five total defensive back transfers since the end of last season, with Mackenro Alexander and Kalvaraz Bessent exiting in December and Februrary, respectively.

The transfers leave Auburn with just nine scholarship defensive backs on the roster, including early enrollee Tim Irvin, with three more of Irvin’s classmates set to arrive this summer.

Moncrief, the top junior college safety in 2013, had moved from his original position but was expected to be a contributor at the strongside linebacker/nickel spot in Muschamp’s defense. The idea of moving from safety to an outside linebacker role didn’t sit well with Moncrief, and he transferred in order to be able to play his natural position, according to the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser.

However, Moncrief’s planned move closer to the line of scrimmage didn’t line up with Muschamp’s. The DC was pretty blunt when talking about his back line in late April. Perhaps Moncrief didn’t fit his ideal safety mold or couldn’t master his position.

Now, Muschamp will be going at it with even less experience in his defensive backfield. While neither Melton nor Turner played in 2014, both players had a year in the program under their belts, as did Moncrief, who played in all 13 games last year.

With T.J. Davis on the shelf indefinitely with an ACL injury, Muschamp will likely have to lean heavily on his starters. Ford and Matthews should be more than capable of shouldering the load, but that’s all the Tigers know they have at this point.

Cornerback is just as dicey a situation as safety. Jones, one of the top corners in the SEC, went through much of spring in a walking boot after foot surgery. Walk-on Michael Sherwood started at cornerback in the spring game opposite of Holsey, while Melton was expected to see the field if he continued to progress throughout the summer. The latter obviously won’t happen now. On top of that, Irvin is the lone contender for the nickel job who is currently on campus now that Moncrief is gone.

The infusion of more freshman talent in a few weeks, which includes a four-star safety and a four-star corner, will give Muschamp a boost. Auburn’s four starting defensive backs, when healthy, have the talent to be some of the best in the SEC, especially under Muschamp’s direction.

Depth is a vital component in building a contender, especially in the brutal SEC West. While Muschamp has a solid rotation at defensive line and players he can count on at linebacker, his numbers are thinner in the secondary. Auburn has all the tools to be one of those contenders in the West, but the lack of depth in the defensive backfield could prove to be a stumbling block.