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No Front 7 Rebuild in 2019

Auburn got some huge news in the past few days with the announced return of Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and a trio of defensive backs. All of a sudden that defensive rebuild in 2019 doesn’t look so daunting.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Mississippi Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

There was a realistic chance that heading into next season the Tigers would have to replace their whole starting front 7. Seniors Deshaun Davis, Darrell Williams, Montavius Atkinson, Dontavius Russell and Andrew Williams all expired their eligibility this past season and it seemed obvious that Derrick Brown would declare for the NFL as well. Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe were both NFL Draft eligible and so it felt like those two were the names to watch. If the Tigers could get one of them back then you might call it a success.


It started last week, when Derrick Brown shockingly announced his intentions to play one final year for the Tigers.

Nick Coe had already confirmed earlier this year that he planned on coming back and then yesterday the final big boom dropped when Marlon Davidson said he wasn’t ready to hang up that #3 just yet.

This is obviously huge for a number of reasons. First, these dudes can play. Between these 3 beasts up front, they racked up 120 tackles, 28.5 TFL and 14 sacks. Coe and Brown were #1 and #2 on the team in sacks and #2 and #3 in TFLs in 2018. Davidson pulled off the impressive feat of blocking three field goal attempts in three straight games. These are impactful players all with bright NFL futures. Keeping them makes Auburn so much better next season.

But it also means that Auburn isn’t looking at a complete rebuild of its front seven. It’s never easy replacing veteran talent. It’s REALLY not easy when you have to replace two full position groups at once. The Tigers will have new faces playing the majority of snaps at linebacker in 2019 but they will be behind a defensive line returning three starters. That’s a huge boon for next season’s defense.

It’s not just the front 7 either. Auburn could have lost four starting DBs as well. Jamel Dean already declared for the draft while Javaris Davis, Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas were all also eligible and reportedly pondering making the jump. Instead, all three announced that they too plan to return for one more ride in 2019.

Given all the negativity that has surrounded this team this past season due to performance on the field and the rumors off, it says a lot about the state of that locker room that all these guys have decided to come back. It doesn’t all of a sudden mean all of Auburn’s issues are fixed and life is gonna be grand next season but it does show that these kids still believe in the program Malzahn has built and see a chance to finish their career on a high note. That’s a fair reason for excitement and optimism as we head into this long offseason.

War Eagle!