Auburn football: Projecting the Tigers' spring defensive tackle depth chart

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 10, 2014 

Kenneth Carter and Montravius Adams in Dline drills Saturday. Auburn BCS day 5 for the BCS Championship on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 in Newport Beach, CA. Todd Van Emst

TODD VAN EMST — Todd J. Van Emst

Editor's note: Auburn's spring practice starts March 18. Some positions are set in stone. Some are up for grabs. Auburn beat writer Ryan Black has already evaluated all the personnel groupings on the team (which you can find here), but now he's paring that down even further to account for every individual position, projecting how the depth chart will look when the Tigers get back on the field for the first time since the BCS championship game. The series continues with the defensive tackles.

Who's Who:

Gabe Wright, senior: Played in all 14 games (11 starts); 31 tackles (16 solo, 15 assisted), 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 9 quarterback hurries, fumble recovery

Montravius Adams, sophomore: Played in 13 games; 20 tackles (10 solo, 10 assisted), 1.5 TFLs, sack, 7 QBHs

Angelo Blackson, senior: Played in all 14 games; 16 tackles (six solo, 10 assisted), 3 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, 6 QBHs, forced fumble

Ben Bradley, senior: Played in all 14 games; 14 tackles (six solo, eight assisted), 2 TFLs, sack, 5 QBHs

JaBrian Niles, junior: Appeared in three games; two tackles (one solo, one assisted), TFL, sack

Tyler Nero, sophomore: Appeared in one game; one tackle (assisted), QBH

Jeff Whitaker, senior: Sat out last season with knee injury

Projected depth chart:

1. Wright

2. Bradley

***

1. Adams

2. Whitaker

Analysis: Aside from Wright's starting at one spot, it's hard to feel certain about anything else at defensive tackle.

At the first position listed above, it's the same way the depth chart looked at the end of last season, with Bradley serving as Wright's backup. At the other, Adams was just behind Nosa Egaue. But Adams' projection as a starter could be way off by no fault of his own. Rather, it's due to Whitaker. Adams' talent is unquestioned; eve so, he doesn't have the experience of Whitaker, one of the team's most well-respected players.

Whitaker was set to be a starter at the outset of the 2013 campaign. Days before the season opener against Washington State, he suffered a knee injury that ended his year without even getting a chance to take a snap.

Niles and Nero will get opportunities to prove their worth as well, though it will an uphill battle to overtake any the quartet mentioned above.

Still, what should give every lineman hope is that Rodney Garner utilizes so many players in his rotation. If a player shows he can contribute, Garner will find a way to get him on the field.

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