Expectations are high for the Auburn defensive line in 2019. In the middle of that unit is a group of defensive tackles that look to add towards the Tiger’s goal of becoming one of the premier defensive lines in the country.
Despite losing four-year starter Dontavius Russell from last year’s team, the Tigers are in good shape coming into the season.
Perhaps the best defender on the Tigers' entire roster, Brown decided to come back to Auburn for his senior season despite garnering first round interest from the NFL. In 2020 mock drafts Brown is projected as an early first round pick and for good reason.
At 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds, Brown has elite size. To go along with size and power, the senior, who will be entering his fourth year starting for the Tigers, has an impressive first step and athleticism to match.
The Sugar Hill, Georgia native recorded 48 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks, which ranked second on the team last season.
With yet another year under his belt, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brown dominate opposing offensive lines and shine as the centerpiece of an already scary Auburn defensive line group.
Who will line up next to Brown as the second defensive tackle is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the most likely candidate to replace Russell from last year is 6-foot-2, 310-pound junior Tyrone Truesdell.
Despite playing in 12 games last season, Truesdell has yet to get the opportunity to prove himself. The junior registered nine total tackles with just 0.5 tackles for a loss.
While rushing the quarterback isn’t Truesdell’s specialty, the Augusta, Georgia native is excellent at stuffing the run and also possesses more experience than other defensive tackles on the roster.
"(Tyrone Truesdell) has strained. He has strained and worked harder now. He’s showed a type of fight now that Dontavius has left,” said fellow defensive lineman Marlon Davidson earlier in the month.
Miller came to Auburn as a highly touted prospect out of Birmingham and while he entered 2018 as a true freshman, Miller appeared in nine games, recording five total tackles and one for a loss.
Miller is supremely talented and with Russell gone, Miller’s role should increase exponentially.
The last of Auburn’s scholarship defensive tackles, Newkirk is a junior and former JUCO transfer, who, at 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds, has excellent size at the position,
Newkirk was the top ranked JUCO defensive tackle at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and while the talent is there, Newkirk played sparingly in 2018. In eight games, he registered seven total tackles.
Newkirk has the chance to secure the other starting DT spot but will likely just be a rotational player on the defensive line.
For what the Auburn defensive tackle group lacks in depth, they make up for in talent. And while three of those four players are largely unproven, a "selection by committee" approach may be in the Tigers' best interest.
Brown has a chance to be one of the top defensive players in the conference, if not the nation, and although there are only four defensive tackles on scholarship on the roster, the Tigers possess incredible depth at the defensive end and buck positions that will provide needed depth and create mismatches against slower offensive linemen.