Dee Ford, Carl Lawson, Jeff Holland: Auburn has had its fair share of elite pass rushing talent in recent years. With the Tigers returning every defensive end and buck from 2018, Auburn has the potential to field one of the best defensive line units in the country.
With the majority of that defensive end and buck talent being upperclassmen, the Tigers will not only create nightmares for opposing offensive lines but also have the experience and veteran leadership to impress in 2019.
The Tigers' resident pass rush expert, Coe, who is returning to The Plains for his redshirt junior season after receiving interest from the NFL has the same tools as Lawson, Holland and those who came before him.
Coe contributed heavily in 2018 with 27 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and a team-high 7 sacks at the hybrid “buck” position.
At a massive 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds, the former state champion wrestler is much bigger than others at his position and he is able to use that size, along with an impressive first step and burst to break through the backfield and put opposing QBs on their backs.
Expect Coe to continue to terrorize offensive tackles and as a projected first round prospect in early 2020 NFL mock drafts, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Asheboro, North Carolina native to lead the Tigers in sacks once again and turn into the Tigers top defensive player.
Behind Coe at the buck position is 6-foot-3, 218-pound sophomore Richard Jibunor. A three-sport athlete in high school, Jibunor is a long, athletic freak who can do a bit of everything on the field.
As a true freshman in 2018, Jibunor recorded only eight total tackles. However, three of those were tackles for a loss and two were sacks.
Unlike Coe, Jibunor will likely play more like a linebacker at the hybrid buck position. The sophomore is a native of Nigeria and is still learning the playbook. Jibunor’s ceiling is infinitely high and should make an impact as a rotational pass-rush threat off the bench.
On A-Day, Jibunor looked strong recording three tackles, and a sack playing for both the Orange and Blue teams.
Moultry, a junior from Birmingham, spent 2018 backing up Coe at the buck position and with Coe staying for another year, Moultry will likely have a similar role in 2019.
Moultry was a top-100 recruit in the class of 2017 but has been a backup during his first two years on The Plains. Last year the 6-foot-3, 248-pound pass rusher recorded 11 total tackles and 1.5 sacks.
A high-motor athlete, Moultry stuggled with penalties in 2018. However, his natural talent and athleticism have many predicting a breakout season for the former four-star recruit.
“He’s a heck of an athlete. He’s fast off the edge and he’s strong. He’s not big, big guy, but when he gets his arms on you, he’s strong. If he can come on this year, and I have no doubt he will, there is so much potential for him to be an unbelievable player for a long time,” said senior offensive lineman Jack Driscoll earlier in the spring.
Moultry shined during Auburn’s spring game with a final stat line of three tackles, two tackles for a loss and one sack.
True freshman Derick Hall is a defensive end/linebacker hybrid that despite being an Under Armour All-American, should spend 2019 learning behind Coe, Moultry and Jibunor.
Similar to Hall, four-star true freshman Colby Wooden should be one to look for in the future but for 2019, would be hard pressed to find playing time in a talented and more veteran group at the buck position.
A veteran leader of the Tigers defense, Davidson is a four-year starter who has been on the most consistent impact players since he arrived on The Plains.
Registering 2.5 sacks or more every year since his freshman year, Davidson may not put up eye-popping stats, but his impact is nonetheless felt across the defensive line.
Davidson was a projected mid-round pick in 2019 mock drafts before deciding to return for his senior season. In order to improve his draft stock for 2020, the 6-foot-3, 278-pound edge rusher will need to become more of a leader and take the next step statistically — a step Davidson is prepared to take.
“I didn’t feel like I played to the Marlon Davidson standard this year (2018). I left a lot of plays on the field and I’m coming back and trying to reach every goal that I can. I want to make sure I fulfill a promise I made in seventh grade to my mother and just making sure I do everything right and the best way and of course, to finish school,” Davidson said earlier in the spring.
Big Kat Bryant
Opposite Davidson is Big Kat Bryant, a talented pass rusher with tantalizing potential. At 6-foot-5 and nearly 250 pounds, Bryant lives up to his name.
As a sophomore in 2018, Bryant played in all 13 of the Tigers’ games registering 18 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and one interception.
An Under Armour All-American coming out of Crisp County high school in Cordele, Georgia, Bryant came to Auburn with high expectations. So far, Bryant has lived up to those expectations fairly well.
Like many others on this list, Bryant is a big breakout candidate for 2019 and will just add to an already strong D-line unit.
Senior walk-on Gary Walker is an undersized defensive lineman who appeared in six games for the Tigers in 2018.
Redshirt freshman Caleb Johnson will have a chance to gain playing time as a reserve defensive end after only playing in two games last season.
2019 signee Jaren Handy stands at an impressive 6-foot-5, 280 pounds. The former top-100 recruit has all the tools to succeed in the future but with as much talent on the roster already, will be a candidate for a redshirt season next year.
Likewise, true freshman Charles Moore was one of the top recruits in Auburn’s 2019 signing class. Moore has elite size and speed but without injuries, the Louisville, Mississippi native will likely only be a reserve.
The Tigers have plenty of talented options at pass rusher. Coe and Davidson will excel at pressuring opposing QBs off the edge and behind those two, Auburn has multiple breakout candidates that might make the leap into stardom.
The Auburn defensive line can be dominant in 2019 and with talented recruits in recent recruiting classes, the state of Auburn pass rushers are in good hands.