Auburn football: Projecting the Tigers' post-spring middle linebacker depth chart

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMay 13, 2014 

Cassanova McKinzy moved from weakside to middle linebacker this spring. The junior will begin the fall at the top of the depth chart at Mike.

TODD J. VAN EMST — Auburn University

Editor's note: Auburn's spring practice concluded with the A-Day game April 19. Some positions didn't change. Some had upheaval. With that in mind, Auburn beat writer Ryan Black will give his position-by-position projection of the entire depth chart as the Tigers head into the summer. The series continues with the middle linebackers.

Who's Who:

Cassanova McKinzy, junior: Started all 14 games; team-high 75 tackles (43 solo, 32 assisted), 8.0 tackles for loss, one interception, one pass breakup, 6 quarterback hurries

JaViere Mitchell, sophomore: Played in 13 games; 13 tackles (eight solo, five assisted), one TFL

Kenny Flowers, junior: Appeared in 13 games; four tackles (one solo, three assisted)

Cameron Toney, redshirt freshman: Redshirted during 2013 season

Pre-spring projection:

1. Kris Frost

2. Mitchell

Post-spring projection:

1. McKinzy

2. Toney

Analysis: As noted in the weakside linebacker projection Monday, the two linebacker positions in Auburn's 4-2-5 scheme effectively flip-flopped this spring. Frost was moved to Will and McKinzy was placed in the middle.

According to defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, it paid off, as McKinzy grew more comfortable with the calls and the role of vocal leader that comes with playing the Mike. The only negative was a force outside of the junior's control, as he was hampered by injuries for a good portion of the spring. However, that means little when it comes to this projection: There's no doubt he'll be with the first-team defense when the Tigers reconvene for preseason camp.

After redshirting last season, Toney is primed for a bigger role in 2014, and should be the first man off the bench if something happens to McKinzy. And Mitchell showed he could play at either linebacker spot last year, so expect him to do the same this fall.

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