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Auburn Football 2017 Post Signing Day Position Analysis: Defensive Line

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A way too early look at 2017 Auburn football position groups.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

With signing day behind us and a new class of Tigers on board, it's time to turn our attention to what this football team may look like going into the 2017 season. We still have spring practice to go and many of the 2017 recruiting class won't arrive until this summer, but it's the offseason and a time of making up content, so that's what we're doing.

Defensive Line:

Key Losses:

Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams, Maurice Swain, Devaroe Lawrence

Key Returnees:

Dontavius Russell, Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown, Byron Cowart, Andrew Williams, Nick Coe, Jaunta'vius Johnson, Antwuan Jackson

Signees:

Tashawn Manning, Alec Jackson, Tyrone Truesdell, Markaviest Bryant

Thoughts:

Now we see a position that has actually lost some essential production. We're going to miss Lawson and Adams. A lot. Think back to 2014 and the first half of 2015. Auburn's defense struggled without a good edge rusher. The Tigers will have to find someone to replace Lawson.

Fortunately, there is a lot of talent waiting to step up. Derrick Brown will see more time now with Lawrence and Adams gone. Byron Cowart is bulking up and moving inside to defensive tackle and will get more time, there. Antwuan Jackson was ready to play last year according to Rodney Garner, but they held him back because there weren't enough reps to go around that would warrant burning a redshirt.

Then there's Nick Coe. He could play anywhere on the line but look for him to be a real possibility on the edge across from Marlon Davidson. He has a year in the strength and conditioning program and has the skill set of a multi-year state wrestling champion in North Carolina. I can't wait to see how he puts those skills to use on the football field.

Markaviest "Big Cat" Bryant could have something to say on the early playing time front, too. Davidson paved the way for a true freshman starter (though he was an early enrollee), so there are definitely opportunities to be had.

Possible Starters:

Marlon Davidson, Dontavius Russell, Derrick Brown, Nick Coe/Paul James III (Buck)