The topic comes up every year. How will Alabama replace all the talent they've lost to the NFL?
Nine defensive starters from the 2017 national championship team threw their name into the draft pool, not to mention the fact that they're also replacing their defensive coordinator, so once again it's an understandable question to ask.
In last Saturday's A-Day Spring game it didn't seem to impact the Tide all that much. The starting defensive unit sacked Jalen Hurts seven times, holding him to just 19-of-35 passing for 195 yards -- 59 of which came on a late lob down the field to DeVonta Smith.
While the defensive line definitely made things easy on the secondary with all those sacks, the defensive backs definitely carried their own weight. Replacing six starters from their dime package, the first team group of defensive backs only allowed Hurts to throw for 32 yards in the first half, completing just 6 of his first 14 pass attempts.
“I think that everyone improved,” Saban said of the secondary. “You know, Trevon had a really good spring, Xavier McKinney had a really good spring. Deionte was solid in the two games he played and he was solid this spring.
“Saivion (Smith) made a lot of improvement, I still think he’s not quite sure what he’s doing all the time, but the fact that he was here this spring was probably a really good thing for him. Shyheim Carter made a lot of progress. So these guys made a lot of progress.”
Saban also noted the improvement of junior defensive back Jared Mayden, who has spent time working with the first team defense but on Saturday he worked with the second group, intercepting A-Day Offensive MVP Mac Jones in the second quarter.
Improvement aside, it's clear Saban is concerned about the depth of his defense beyond the starting group. The second team defense allowed Jones to complete 23 of his 35 pass attempts for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“So (there’s) those six guys," Saban said of his defensive backs in the starting dime package. "But past that, we need to make significant improvement with the players that we have and the guys that we’re bringing in.”
Luckily for Tide fans they've got plenty of reinforcements coming in at the position. Five-star Patrick Surtain Jr., four-stars Jalyn Armour-Davis and Josh Jobe, along with three-star Eddie Smith all arive over the summer and Saban says those guys need to live up to their potential and help Alabama in 2018.
“In the secondary, we don’t even have enough guys on scholarship to go out there two-deep with guys on scholarship,” Saban said, “so the four guys coming in, some of those guys are going to need to develop and contribute early on.”
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