If you are a regular reader of RollBamaRoll, then you probably already know that the writers here were less than fond of last season’s OL unit or their position coach. Despite what others around the interwebz are assuming, it is this humble keyboard slapper’s opinion that all five Crimson Tide offensive line positions are up for grabs coming into spring.
- LT Evan Neal was one of the few bright spots on the line. The Consensus All-American appears to be a top five pick in the coming NFL Draft. And with good reason.
A 6'7", 337 lb man moving this quick?! @AlabamaFTBL OL Evan Neal is just showing off at his @AlabamaFTBL Pro Day. @ENeal73 (via @DOrlandoAJC) pic.twitter.com/8xEuiT3ETZ— NFL (@NFL) March 30, 2022
- C/T Chris Owens - This sixth-year senior is finally out of eligibility.
- Tommy Brown former 4-star transferred to Colorado.
- Pierce Quick former high 4-star transferred to Georgia Tech.
- OL coach Doug Marrone “allowed to seek other opportunities.”
Regardless of what lazy national writers tell you, Bama truly returns only two full-time starters.
- G Emil Ekiyor (RS-SR, 28 career starts) - This Indianapolis native is expected to retain his starting spot at one of the guard positions. But after last year’s disappointing corps, nothing should be assumed. Ekiyor is limited this spring after separating his shoulder during the Cotton Bowl.
- G Javion Cohen (True JR, 14 career starts) - After Neal, Cohen was probably the most impressive o-lineman last season. He should be the starting left guard but could move to tackle if needed. In addition, he has taken on the role of an outspoken leader for this unit - something that was sorely missing last season. He should be a fan favorite in 2022.
RETURNING PLAYERS WITH PREVIOUS STARTS
- C/G Darrian Dalcourt (True SR, 11 starts at center in 2021) - This Maryland native might just be getting Wally Pipped at center. He was the starter through the first nine games of 2021 but left early in the LSU game with an injury and then again in the Iron Bowl. In the former, he was replaced by Owens. In the latter, Seth McLaughlin entered the game and for the first time perhaps all season the offensive line started clicking. Dalcourt would not play the rest of the season. To make things worse for the senior, he is missing all of spring practice due to injury.
- C/G Seth McLaughlin (RS-SO, started the final three games of 2021) - McLaughlin is a real underdog story. As a 270 pound recruit ranked 3-stars and the No. 476 prospect of the class of 2020, many observers were skeptical of his signing. But if you saw him play in high school, you’d know why Nick Saban liked him so much. After gaining 25 pounds the Georgia product kept working and when Dalcourt went down against Auburn, he stepped in and changed the unit. The Tigers famously (infamously?) sacked Bryce Young seven times, but only once after McL entered the game. He did not allow a sack during his 301 snaps at center. He should be the favorite at the position.
- TE/T Kendall Randolph (SUPER-SR, 13 “starts” at in-line tight end) - If you haven’t been paying attention, you might have not noticed how much Randolph has really played over the span of his career. Since 2019, he has been a part of the FG/PAT unit and as a jumbo/short yardage tight end. This time a year ago, Saban listed him as a starter at tackle but that never came to fruition. As a super-senior, the staff felt highly enough of him to use a scholarship to bring him back for a bonus year. He could be a candidate for a tackle spot. However, he likely resumes his role as a blocking tight end with little threat of catching a pass. But then again...
- Damieon George (listed as a True Junior but played only 3 games as a frosh, 3 starts in 2021) - With Neal heading off to NFL riches, this 333-pounder is now the biggest offensive lineman on the team - which likely limits him to tackle. He entered the LSU game at right tackle when Owens moved to center to replace Dalcourt. He started against New Mexico State, Arkansas, and Auburn at the same spot but returned to the bench in the post-season after McLaughlin’s emergence at center. The big Texan certainly has a step on his competitors at tackle.
- JC Latham (True SO) saw action in 14 games. Many thought he might just slide into a starting spot on last season’s team - and maybe he should have. Latham is big (6’6”/326) but quite nimble and could earn a spot at guard or tackle.
- Amari Kight (RS-JR) - This former high 4-star has been a bit of a disappointment. In three campaigns, he has played in ten games. It would be surprising if he becomes a starter without someone ahead of him succumbing to injury.
- Terrence Ferguson (R-FR) participated in six plays against New Mexico State. Potential starter in the future.
- Tommy Brockermeyer (R-FR) - DNP in 2021 and may have still been recovering from nagging injuries from high school. Now at 305 lbs, the hope is he can start seeing some field time this year.
- James Brockermeyer (R-FR) - DNP in 2021. Like his twin brother, James had some nagging injuries but his 282 pound frame is a concern. He is likely being groomed for center for the future.
- Jaeden Roberts (R-FR) - DNP in 2021. Also a project for the future.
- Tanner Bowles (RS-JR) - Entering his fourth season on campus, he is not even being mentioned in practice notes. It might be time to move on to a school that will put him in the starting lineup.
- OL Coach Eric Wolford, aka “Coach Wolf” comes in after time at South Carolina and Kentucky. Javion Cohen originally committed to him in high school when Wolf was with the Gamecocks.
- Tyler Booker (True FR) New Haven, CT (IMG) - Ranked No. 57 overall by 247sports composite.
- Dayne Shor (True FR) Alpharetta, GA - Project.
[Elijah Pritchett - Ranked No. 37 overall, will not arrive until this summer.]
- Alabama is still courting true senior LT Tyler Steen who has 33 career starts at Vanderbilt. IMHO, he goes elsewhere.
- Saban added Jameson Williams and Henry To’o To’o to the team in May of last year. So, ya never know. Maybe someone like Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski will open his eyes to the possibility of earning a ring.
PREDICTED DEPTH CHART
It might be easier pulling names out of a hat than to predict the starting five for the Tide this fall. At last Saturday’s scrimmage, the lineup was reportedly Amari Kight, Javion Cohen, Seth McLaughlin, Damieon George and JC Latham from left to right. I’m not quite buying Kight just yet. I also think McLaughlin retains the spot at center. The unit just operates so much smoother with him under center.
My predicted fall depth chart:
- LT - JC Latham
- LG - Damieon George
- C - Seth McLaughlin
- RG - Emil Ekiyor
- RT - Javion Cohen
- Blocking TE - Kendall Randolph
What do you think? Am I off my rocker or spot on? Share your depth chart in comment below.