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2019 Position Preview: Offensive Line

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Can last year’s weakness become a strength?

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game-Auburn at Washington Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

You can have all the shiny 4* & 5* skill players in the world but if the big fellas up front can’t consistently do their job, your offense won’t be any good. Auburn’s offensive line struggled mightily at times last season but started to show signs of improvement late in the year. Can they take a big enough step in 2019 to turn Auburn into a contender?

Departures

  • Calvin Ashley (Transfer FAU) - 5 games played, 1 start

Returners

  • Prince Tega Wanogho (rSenior) - 17 career starts
  • Marquel Harrell (rSenior) - 18 career starts
  • Mike Horton (rSenior) - 20 career starts
  • Kaleb Kim (rSenior) - 8 career starts
  • Jack Driscoll (rSenior) - 33 career starts
  • Bailey Sharp (rSenior)
  • Prince Michael Sammons (rJunior)
  • Nick Brahms (rSophomore) - 5 career starts
  • Austin Troxell (rSophomore)
  • Tashawn Manning (rSophomore)
  • Brodarious Hamm (rSophomore)
  • Alec Jackson (rSophomore)
  • Jalil Irvin (rFreshman)
  • Kameron Stutts (rFreshman)

Newcomers

Strength - Experience

Auburn returns their whole two deep sans Calvin Ashley. Now they weren’t necessarily great at times last season but getting the whole group back in tact along with almost all the reserves is big for development. Prince Tega Wanogho has a chance to push his draft stock up even higher while Marquel Harrell and Jack Driscoll will have an opportunity to prove their names should be called at some point come draft time. But the real key is the improvement of Mike Horton and Kaleb Kim. If those two can become more consistent, specifically in the run game, Auburn’s offense will have no choice but to be better in 2019.

Weakness - No Proven Depth

Yes Auburn returns basically everybody but that list of people that have played meaningful snaps is scary short. It got even shorter when it was announced that Austin Troxell would miss the season with an ACL injury. The Tigers need some of these young guys to step and be ready when the inevitable injury strikes up front. From the sound of things, Brodarious Hamm is turning some heads this fall. Nick Brahms and Bailey Sharp have also seen action before. Hopefully Auburn never really has to deal with the dire consequences of not signing enough bodies in recent OL classes but just an injury or two could make that a reality.

Prediction

I think Auburn’s offensive line is much better in 2019. No I don’t think they will be 2013 dominant but if they can give these young QBs enough time to get the ball in the hands of these playmaking WRs and enough daylight for this deep stable of backs to get to 2nd level, that should be enough for Auburn’s offense to improve this season. Don’t be surprised if you see Keiondre Jones emerge as one of the first interior players off the bench too. He’s one of the biggest signings Auburn has had in recent cycles up front. Seeing the development of this 2nd team OL will make some of the blowouts on the schedule more interesting come late in the 3rd quarter.

War Eagle!