Spring practice: 10 positions, 10 questions

Oct 14, 2017; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban leads his players out to the field prior to the start of their game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2017; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban leads his players out to the field prior to the start of their game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

[ LB  |  TE  |  P  |  PK  |  QB  |  S  |  OL  |  DT  |  RB  |  LB ]

6. Safety

Alabama’s vaunted safety unit came apart down the stretch last year, looking shaky against and and then imploding against Clemson. Deionte made the decision to split for the NFL, leaving Bama to ask just how good the returning players are – and how will manage the rotation.

Thompson’s departure makes McKinney the unquestioned leader of the safeties. If anyone managed to hold his own down the stretch last year, it was McKinney, although Star safety made several key plays, especially against Georgia. The real question here is whether Bama’s coaches will move Carter to free safety or leave him at Star, where he showed value.

Either way, got a somewhat unexpected boost in talent when returned to the following a suspension. His status with the team had been in doubt for most of 2018; prior to his suspension, he was in the mix for the dime safety that eventually ended up in Jared Mayden’s hands. Mayden is also back, and if he continues to improve as much heading into 2019 as he did the second half of 2018, he’ll push Carter for a starting job. Eddie Smith and round out the list of likely contributors, although Jeffery “Scooby” Carter is with the team for ball and will certainly compete.

Charles Kelly was added to the to specifically concentrate on coaching safeties, meaning last year’s coach, Karl Scott, will work solely with the cornerbacks. Splitting the secondary into two coaching groups would seem to suggest a renewed (and increased) focus on this group. We’ll see what happens as moves along.

Summary: McKinney’s hitting ability is welcomed, but needs to cover better here. could cover just about anyone, when his head was in the game. Replacing Thompson with Mayden would make Alabama more physical up front; using Carter as the primary replacement would probably prioritize direct coverage ability. Alabama needs to figure out quickly who will be the fifth and sixth defensive backs, and whether Wright – who was injured on top of being suspended in 2018 – is ready to take the next step forward. This group is like a race car on bald tires at the moment: tons of potential, but needs fixing.

READ MORE:  Offensive Line


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