Editor's note: The 2013 season is in the books. Any underclassmen eligible for the NFL draft have decided whether to return to school or pursue a pro career. And national signing day has passed. With that in mind, Auburn beat writer Ryan Black breaks down the team's 2014 roster, going position-by-position and giving his take on each spot's future. The series continues with the Tigers' cornerbacks.
Who's Staying: Jonathon Mincy, senior: Started all 14 games; 56 tackles (45 solo, 11 assisted), 1.0 tackle for loss, one interception, 14 pass breakups, one quarterback hurry
Jonathan Jones, junior: Appeared in nine games; 11 tackles (all solo), 1.0 TFL, one PBU
Johnathan Ford, sophomore: Appeared in 14 games; Five tackles (Two solo, three assisted), one PBU
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Kamryn Melton, sophomore: Appeared in three games; compiled no stats
Who's Leaving: Chris Davis: Started 12 games; 74 tackles (52 solo, 22 assisted), 2.5 TFLs, team-high 15 PBUs, one QBH, one forced fumble
Who's Coming In: Kalvaraz Bessent: 34 tackles, two interceptions (Numbers from senior season at Camden County High School in St. Mary's, Ga.)
Nick Ruffin: 59 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbes (Numbers from past season at St. Pius X in Atlanta)Joseph Turner:
18 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups
Outlook: The only certainty surrounding Auburn's cornerbacks heading into the fall is that Mincy will hold down the fort at one spot.
So who will join him on the opposite side of the field?
Jones, one of the fastest players on the team, saw time as Mincy's backup, though his main responsibilities last year came on special teams. Could this be a breakout year for the Carrollton (Ga.) High School product? In his career to this point, he's made 20 tackles, with seven coming against Ole Miss in 2012. Like many other players on the Tigers' defense last season, he struggled with injuries. He broke a bone in his ankle during fall camp which forced him to the first four games of the season. If he stay healthy in 2014, he might be able to lock down the other starting spot.
He'll have his hands full fending off the rest of the candidates for the spot.
After appearing in only three games last year, Melton will figure more prominently in the secondary this season. The role of his fellow sophomore, Ford, is still unclear. Recruited as a running back, he moved to corner during fall camp following Jones' foot injury. Neither he nor the coaching staff has revealed whether he will rejoin the offense or remain at corner; should he stay on defense, he can lean on the experience he gained last season, when he took part in all 14 contests in the Tigers' run to the BCS title game.
T.J. Davis' position is similarly murky. Participating in 12 games last season, Davis has shown the versatility to play both corner at safety. It will be interesting to see where defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson elects to put the Florida native when Auburn opens spring practice March 18.
In addition, each of the Tigers' three incoming cornerback prospects (Bessent, Ruffin and Turner) will get ample opportunity to prove themselves worthy of starting immediately.
Regardless of who ultimately wins the job, it's likely no position battle on defense will be more closely watched during spring practice and fall camp.