Bold predictions for Auburn football's 2023 depth chart on defense
With the Tigers' 2023 roster seemingly in place, it's time to sort everyone out and call our shots for the fall — rounding out with the defense.
CB Nehemiah Pritchett and S Jaylin Simpson (Auburn Athletics)
Welcome to the second half of the Observer’s summer Auburn football depth chart prediction — with the added bonus of some bold predictions for each of the position groups on the roster.
Yesterday, we went through the entire offense, one that will look a lot different in 2023 under the direction of Hugh Freeze and Philip Montgomery.
The same can be said of a defense run by Ron Roberts, a veteran coordinator who is well-known throughout coaching circles for his innovative philosophies and strategic developments. The mantra for this unit is “be ready for anything.”
Auburn’s defense has reloaded at almost every position on the field — with one major exception — through the transfer portal. There are spots that look completely different thanks to newcomers, while a certain section of the depth chart is filled with familiar faces to Tigers fans.
So let’s go spot-by-spot through Auburn’s 2023 depth chart and offer bold predictions on who starts and how the season plays out for the positions.
A reminder: This projection is based on everybody currently signed to Auburn’s 2023 roster making it to the fall. Things could change in the future, based on players’ statuses with the university.
Also, like yesterday, feel free to share your own bold predictions for Auburn’s defense in the comments below.
Lawrence Johnson and Zykeivous Walker
In an offseason filled with transition on the defensive line, Harris stands tall as a returning multi-year veteran of the group. He only trailed Colby Wooden on the defensive front in tackles and tackles for loss last season, and he’s now being looked to as a leader for the unit. One thing to watch for Harris: Can he be a more effective pass rusher in this scheme? If so, it would help Auburn a ton.
Johnson started for several seasons at Purdue and is listed at a slimmer 290 pounds now at Auburn. He should factor in the rotation at either traditional defensive tackle or the nose spot, as he’s played a lot of Power Five football in his career. Walker has stuck around at Auburn under the new staff after considering a transfer elsewhere under the previous administration. A healthy Walker still has real potential to make impact plays up front.
Sledge is another defensive tackle who could also play the nose, but he’s not quite as big as the rest of the players at the position. We’ll slot him into the traditional spot for this depth chart, and it’ll be interesting to see how much he progresses in his second season on the Plains.
Bold Prediction: Marcus Harris makes a real run at double-digit tackles for loss this season. The new scheme should free up Harris to make more plays in the backfield, as the Tigers have added a lot of bulk around him up front. This is an area in which the veteran can really take charge after posting 12.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons combined. With all the new faces on this team, don’t forget about Harris.
DT Justin Rogers (Auburn Athletics)
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