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C&M Roundtable: Who Will Lead Auburn in Sacks This Season?

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Auburn must replace some big time production up front

Oregon v Auburn Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Auburn fielded the best defensive line in college football last season. The leaders of that unit, Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson, combined for 23 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 5 pass break ups, 3 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. They were the scariest duo in all of college football.

But now they are gone and Auburn must rebuild its fearsome front once again. 2018 sack leader Nick Coe is gone as well so it’s time for a new name to emerge as Auburn’s top pass rusher up front. Interestingly, two of Auburn’s top leading returners in sacks are linebackers.

There’s a lot of talent up front but not a ton of proven production. The incredibly wise contributors here at College & Mag decided to put their brilliant brains together and predict who emerges as Auburn’s newest top pass rusher.


AUNerd

There are two obvious picks out the gate. Big Kat Bryant and Derick Hall are the likely starters on the edge. However, Hall did not record a single sack last season while Big Kat finished with 1.5. It’s not like either are stone cold locks to lead Auburn in this category this fall.

There are quite a few wildcards to consider. Tyrone Truesdell provided surprising pressure up the middle last fall recording 3 sacks which was 4th best on the team in 2019. Doubling that number could put him in line to be the sack leader in 2020. What about TD Moultry? There have been flashes where it looked like he was emerging as a speed threat off the edge only for him to disappear again. Maybe a new face from that 2019 class like Jaren Handy, Colby Wooden or Caleb Johnson emerges? Dre Butler was ultra productive in JUCO and could be a nightmare rushing from the 3 tech. Ya’ll also know I am a BIG Romello Height fan.

I’ve wrestled with this one for a bit and while I am tempted to go bold with my pick, I decided that with a full offseason of strength training and hopefully a full year as starter, Derick Hall becomes Auburn’s newest edge threat. I would love for this to end up being Big Kat but it’s going to take quite the jump for him to get there so I’ll go with the sophomore.

Verdict: Derick Hall


Will McLaughlin

With Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson off to the NFC South, the Auburn defensive line will most certainly take on a different look next season. While this will probably be the obvious choice, it’s time for the next great Auburn defensive linemen to step up and I think that’s going to be the large feline.

Verdict: Big Kat Bryant


Jack Condon

After losing the core of one of the best collections of talent in Auburn defensive line history, we now have to find out who’s going to be able to fill the bulk of the production. Is there a guy capable of winning multiple Defensive Lineman of the Week awards? I think so, but we’ll have to wait and see on the production. You would’ve thought that the attention teams paid to Brown and Davidson last year would’ve helped someone else become a huge monster, but that pair shone in spite of the extra blockers.

That said, there’s one guy who’ll get the bulk of the attention this year, and that’s Big Kat Bryant. As Auburn’s most known returning lineman (super cool name helps with that), he’s going to get a ton of attention when offensive coaches look to scheme against the Tiger defense. Therefore, I think he ends up having a quiet season stat-wise, even if his work shows up on film occupying multiple blockers. So, we’re going to see someone have a big 6+ sack year, and I think that guy’s going to be someone with experience and who spent a fair amount of time in the backfield in his opening season.

Verdict: Owen Pappoe


Ryan Sterritt

It goes without saying Auburn is losing a ton of talent off the defensive front this year. With Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson gone, the focus will fall on vets like Big Kat Bryant and Tyrone Truesdell up front. Under Kevin Steele, the pass rush has generally lived or died with the success of the Buck - Carl Lawson and Jeff Holland each had 9.5 sacks from Buck in 2016 and 2017 respectively, but the pass rush fell off slightly in 2018 (Nick Coe, 7 sacks) and more noticeably in 2019 (Big Kat Bryant, 1.5 sacks). It’s unfortunate, because the Auburn defense last season did pretty much everything well except rush the passer.

The expectation is that Bryant will slide over to a more natural fit at end, replacing Marlon Davidson. Who’s going to take over at Buck? Will Moultry get it together? Will Hall break out in a big way? What about one of the newcomers?

Ultimately, I’m not sure anyone distinguishes themselves to lead the team in sacks from the Buck this year. Instead, I’m going to lean on Auburn’s returning sack leader to have an even bigger year and put himself in position to be Auburn’s first 1st round draft pick at linebacker since Takeo Spikes.

Verdict: KJ Britt.


Joshdub

“Big Shoes to Fill” is a theme here - you can’t actually replace the talent lost to the NFL. Derrick Brown was THE man - and the talent around him just made him better. Auburn’s defense won’t have that kind of talent in 2020; it will have to rely on the remaining veterans.

Nobody covered more ground than the true freshman linebacker Owen Pappoe last year. It feels odd to call a true sophomore a veteran, but he’s got the physical skills and leadership capability to step into the role.

Verdict: Owen Pappoe


You’ve read our takes now it’s your turn. Who will lead Auburn in sacks this season?

Poll

Who will lead Auburn in sacks this season?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Big Kat Bryant
    (10 votes)
  • 5%
    Tyrone Truesdell
    (4 votes)
  • 8%
    T.D. Moultry
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Daquan Newkirk
    (1 vote)
  • 10%
    K.J. Britt
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Chandler Wooten
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Zakoby McClain
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    Coynis Miller
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Marquis Burks
    (1 vote)
  • 7%
    Dre Butler
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Caleb Johnson
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaren Handy
    (0 votes)
  • 16%
    Derick Hall
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Colby Wooden
    (0 votes)
  • 20%
    Owen Pappoe
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    Daniel Foster-Allen
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Jay Hardy
    (0 votes)
  • 5%
    Romello Height
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Zykeivous Walker
    (1 vote)
68 votes total Vote Now

War Eagle!