Coming into the spring of 2018, Alabama was faced with the prospect of replacing all of its top three CBs as Anthony Averett, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tony Brown all headed to the NFL. After some expected growing pains, there should be dividends this year as the top three at the position return with significant starting experience.
Saivion Smith shocked basically everyone by declaring for the NFL Draft following a disastrous individual performance against Clemson. He is the only player of note that will not be returning at the position.
#7 Trevon Diggs - Sr.
Diggs had emerged as the leader of this unit last season before breaking his foot against Arkansas. Thankfully, he decided to return for his senior season. Previously an elite athlete without a position, Diggs is rarely overmatched physically at 6’2” and 200 lbs. He has outstanding length and strong hands that allow him to dislodge the few balls that QBs fit in beyond his reach. If he can stay healthy and play the way he did last season, he won’t have to wait long before hearing his name called in the 2020 draft.
#2 Patrick Surtain II - Soph.
Another physical specimen at 6’2”, 203 lbs. and track speed, Surtain was a massive recruiting coup as Corey Raymond and LSU thought they had him locked up. He was a godsend for this unit last season, stepping into a starting role early after Smith was torched on the opening play at Ole Miss. He never relinquished it and became one of the steadiest performers on the field. If he continues to add weight, PS2 could end up projecting as a safety in the NFL and might even play there in college before his time is up.
#5 Shyheim Carter - Sr.
There were some rumblings that the 6’0”, 195 lb. Carter might go ahead and test the NFL waters, but he too decided to return for his senior season. Shy has carved out quite the role for himself at the critical Star position, and his proven ability to cover slot receivers will serve him well at the next level. He will be an important veteran leader.
If there is any concern about this position group, it’s the fact that the second unit, while supremely talented, has seen precious little playing time. Hopefully the top three can stay healthy and allow these guys to develop in garbage time.
#28 Josh Jobe - So.
The 6’1” 186 lb. Jobe was another big recruiting pull out of Miami, and he appeared in 14 games as a freshman, largely on special teams. Most will remember him for getting victimized by Justyn Ross a couple of times after Smith went down, but he acquitted himself pretty well in that difficult situation. He will likely be the next man up should anything happen to a starter, and may even work his way into a rotational role to help keep them fresh.
#22 Jalyn Armour-Davis - RS Fr.
Armour-Davis had created some buzz last fall before suffering a knee injury in pregame warm-ups in week two. The redshirt freshman is another long athlete at 6’1”, 182 lbs. and should have a great opportunity to slot in next to Jobe in the second grouping.
#13 Nigel Knott - RS Jr.
This is likely the last ride in Tuscaloosa for the redshirt junior if he’s unable to get any meaningful playing time. A small but freakish athlete, Knott’s first two years were marred by injuries. He finally got to play a moderate role mostly on special teams last season, appearing in ten games.
What’s understood don’t need to be explained RESPECT MY DECISION! pic.twitter.com/v1iNZM6JfK— S͓̽c͓̽o͓̽o͓̽b͓̽y͓̽ (@jcarter2133) December 9, 2018
#11 Jeffery “Scooby” Carter - Fr.
Ranked the #9 CB and #91 overall player on the 247 Composite, and fitting Saban’s mold at 6’0” with sub-4.4 speed, the early enrollee should have a decent shot to crack the two deep in his freshman campaign. His high school tape shows plenty of range and sure tackling ability, so he could get a look in the slot or at safety before his career is done. Carter is the only one of five total 2019 DB commits to enroll in time for spring.
Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, the cornerback position should be a team strength this season, with a dedicated position coach in Karl Scott and the right balance of veteran leadership to help the young studs develop into future stars. Saban’s defense functions best when the secondary is strong, and this group should be able to cover most anyone if they stay healthy.