It doesn’t seem that long ago that Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills were fresh faces full of promise. Now entering the 2019 season, the two offensive linemen are juniors veterans with a combined 31 starts plus substantially more time in the trenches as freshmen. With both linemen on the Outland Trophy Watch List, they are expected to have big years. The task for the Tide staff is finding three others to join them on the line.
Alabama has to replace unanimous All-American left tackle Jonah Williams and four-year starter Ross Pierschbacher who served as center this past season. Also gone is guard Lester Cotton who started ten games in 2018.
RG Alex Leatherwood - After spending a season at right guard, the rising junior is back at his natural position at left tackle. He was named All-SEC second team after starting all 15 games for the Tide this past season. He was named to the First-Team of the 2019 Preseason All-SEC.
RT Jedrick Wills - Another rising junior, the Kentucky native started all 15 games at right tackle as a true sophomore and should retain that role. With Tua Tagovailoa being a left-hander, it is up to Wills to protect his quarterback’s blind side. He too was named First Team Preseason All-SEC.
RETURNING RESERVES WITH PREVIOUS STARTS
G Deonte Brown - The redshirt junior pulled off an unusual feat in 2018 of unseating a senior starter, Cotton, at left guard in the middle of the season. He mostly achieved this coup through impressive work in practices as well as in reserve play early in the season. However, he has found himself in the doghouse after an NCAA suspension for the Orange Bowl and the National Championship Game. He is also suspended for the first four games of 2019. Alabama had filed an appeal of the suspension early in spring but no news is probably bad news. Once his suspension is over, he will again have to work his way back into the starting line-up. Despite all this, he was still named to Third Team Preseason All-SEC.
G/T Matt Womack - This redshirt senior has had an unusual college career that began with causing recruiting violations for LSU. The former 3-star (#623 in the nation) became the surprise starter at right tackle in 2017 on the way to a National Championship. However, a broken foot during fall camp last year knocked him out of a chance at starting. By the time he recovered, Wills had solidified his spot. Womack was regularly used in jumbo packages and mop-up duty late in games. On most teams, he would be a starting tackle. Despite not beating out Leatherwood or Wills, the staff has enough faith in moving the big man inside. He worked extensively at guard over spring practice and looks like a leading candidate to nail down one of the guard roles. He was selected a 2019 Third Team Preseason All-SEC.
G/C Chris Owens - This redshirt junior has seen playing time at tackle, guard, and center during his time at the Capstone. This spring he earned the Mal Moore Leadership Award - a good trait for a center to possess. He appears to be close to locking down a starting job at at that position.
G/C Emil Ekiyor - Last year as a true freshman, Ekiyor was being groomed as a center for future teams. He performed so well that he finds himself in position to claim a starting spot at guard.
T Scott Lashley - The redshirt junior is not going to win a tackle job but should be an able back-up.
T Tommy Brown - Despite the scouting praises of this former 4-star, he did not see the field as a true freshman in 2018. That should drastically change in 2019. He has the look of a future starter but needs some honing.
C Hunter Brannon - Redshirt sophomore has yet to play. He is being directed towards center but can also play guard.
T Kendall Randolph - Redshirt sophomore has yet to play.
Coach Kyle Flood - Although new to the Crimson Tide program, the ex-Rutgers head coach has a good reputation around OL coaching circles and was highly respected with the Atlanta Falcons the last two years.
G/T Landon Dickerson - The grad-transfer from FSU started multiple games in each of his three seasons in Tallahassee only to succumb to season-ending injuries in each instance. If the redshirt junior can stay healthy and learn the playbook, he has a good shot at taking one of the starting guard positions. Since he only played in two games last season, he still has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
T Evan Neal 6’7” 360 Okeechobee, FL - The 5-star tackle was ranked the No. 5 overall player for the 2019 recruiting class. He is good. He is REALLY good. Currently, he is being considered for one of the guard jobs. If he begins the season as a reserve, he will likely be worked into games with four other starters to see how he meshes - much like Leatherwood did before him.
T/G Pierce Quick 6’5” 285 Trussville, AL - The No. 40 recruit in the nation will probably move to guard with the Tide. Expect a redshirt season for him.
T Amari Kight 6’7” 313 Alabaster, AL - With a deep depth chart at tackle, he probably redshirts.
G/C Darrian Dalcourt 6’3” 292 Baltimore, MD - This 4-star has impressed the staff and could push for playing time at center or guard.
G Tanner Bowles 6’5” 280 Glasgow, KY - Likely redshirt.
PREDICTED DEPTH CHART
As of now, the starting line-up has not changed from spring. Below are my arbitrary odds of each player opening the season at their respected positions:
Left tackle - Alex Leatherwood (99.9%)
Left guard - Emil Ekiyor (75%)
Center - Chris Owens (85%)
Right guard - Matt Womack (70%)
Right tackle - Jedrick Wills (95%)
Depth Chart (minus Deonte Brown):
Left tackle - 1. Junior Alex Leatherwood, 2. Redshirt junior Scott Lashley
Left guard - 1. Redshirt freshman Emil Ekiyor, 2. Freshman Evan Neal
Center - 1. Redshirt junior Chris Owens, 2. Ekiyor or Redshirt sophomore Hunter Brannon
Right guard - 1. Redshirt senior Matt Womack, 2. Redshirt junior Landon Dickerson* or Darrian Dalcourt or Pierce Quick
Right tackle - 1. Junior Jedrick Wills, 2. Redshirt freshman Tommy Brown
* Landon Dickerson is so new to the team that he is an unknown entity at the moment. He is mainly a tackle but has played guard in the past.
Who is most likely to get a start over the current starting five?
This poll is closed
Nobody. Saban will stick with this five.
Evan Neal is too good to leave on the sidelines.
As soon as Landon Dickerson catches up, he is in there.
Deonte Brown is going to stay in shape and be ready to go once his suspension is up.
Other (see my adroit perspective in Comments.)