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 cornerbacks.
Who's Who: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
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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
Kamryn Melton, sophomore: Appeared in three games; compiled no stats
Projected depth chart:
Analysis: Take a pen, permanent marker or any other writing utensil that can't be erased.
Use that to write Mincy's name on your lineup card at one of Auburn's cornerback spots. The rising senior is far and away the most experienced corner in the Tigers' secondary, and he'll be up for various preseason all-conference and All-American honors.
Make sure to have a pencil handy when filling out the other spots, though.
At this point, everything is up in the air. Take a look at the projection and know that everything aside from Mincy is interchangeable. Melton has as good a chance to start as Jones. The same goes for Ford.
The only reason Jones was placed opposite of Mincy here is that the Carrollton (Ga.) alum is the elder statesman of the remaining trio. Besides, he would have put up far better numbers (and appeared in more games) had he been able to stay healthy. Possessing top-flight speed, he has starred on special teams when he's been injury-free. If he can do that this fall, there's no reason to think he can't rise to the top of the cornerback depth chart.
Could Melton go from only seeing action in three games to becoming a starter this fall? Certainly. But it would be quite a jump. More likely, he'll do as Jones did last year: take the field in specific packages and continue to learn under Mincy. By this time next spring, Melton might be the one others are trying to knock out of the lineup.
And Ford, well, there's a mystery that will hopefully be solved soon enough. At heart, he's still a running back. But he didn't have many opportunities to showcase his talent last year, as he was moved to corner during fall camp; even when he returned to offense, it was in spot duty during routs over Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic, and only when the victory was well in hand.
My prediction: He begins the spring at corner. Eventually, the Tigers settle on a two-deep where they're comfortable enough to let Ford move back to offense full-time. If this happens, expect T.J. Davis — who is equally adept at corner and safety — to take Ford's place as a backup, be it to Mincy or Jones/Melton at the other spot.