Auburn still searching for the leader of its talented defensive front
Auburn has quietly gone about building arguably the best defensive line in the SEC heading into the 2016 season but does the unit have a clear leader heading into the summer?
When healthy, junior defensive end Carl Lawson stacks up with any player at his position in the nation. Sophomore Byron Cowart was rated as the No. 1 overall prospect in 2015 and hasn’t even begun to reach his potential. True freshman and early enrollee Marlon Davidson has come in and already jumped Cowart on the depth chart. After rehabbing last season, redshirt freshman Prince Tega Wanogho could make an impact this year and five-star recruit Derrick Brown has yet to even arrive to the Plains.
All those talented lineman will need a leader to look to on the field this season and the their position coach Rodney Garner is hoping senior Montravius Adams steps out of his “shell” and into the role.
“Montravius, he’s naturally a quiet guy,” Garner told James Crepea of AL.com. “He needs to come out of that shell and needs to be more of a vocal leader and then also make sure he’s doing it on the field consistently. That means he’s got to be demanding of holding himself accountable with his play and how he approaches every day too.”
By holding himself to the highest standard possible, Adams will help set the tone for a defensive line looking to improve it’s run defense this season – the Tigers allowed an average of 183 yards on the ground in 2015, ranking them No. 11 in the SEC.
Both Adams and Lawson passed on opportunities to go the NFL last offseason. While Lawson simply has to show he can stay healthy in order to be selected high in next year’s draft, Adams is looking to improve his all-around game in order to be a top pick.
“There’s just so many things, especially Montravius, from an athletic developmental standpoint and even from a maturity developmental standpoint,” Garner said. “I think (coming back is) going to help him, when he’s blessed to transition to that level, to have an opportunity for longevity. I definitely feel like he made the right decision”
Taking command of Auburn’s talent line will be step one for Adams this offseason. If he can get help the players around him reach their peak performance this year, his production and stock should only rise in the eyes of NFL evaluators.