There is relative stability at QB on the Plains this spring. Well, stability in the sense that Stidham isn’t in jeopardy of losing his job, but he is in jeopardy of missing the overwhelming majority of spring practice as he recovers from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. That has given the opportunity for both of the young, dual-threat QBs to get a lot of reps. Those two players are Malik Willis and Joey Gatewood. The first scrimmage was held a couple of weeks ago, and it didn’t go well for the quarterbacks as they tossed a total of four interceptions in a scrimmage that was “75 to 85 percent run”, according to Gus Malzahn. One of the players that recorded a pick was TrFR DB, Smoke Monday, whom I’ve never seen play but felt his name was worthy of print. Stidham finished as the overall CFF QB32 in 2017 which was very respectable, but I am unsure if I would be that optimistic about his 2018 campaign.
Auburn will need to break in some new players on their OL as well as replace the overwhelming majority of the rushing offense. For as long as I can remember, Auburn’s had a stable of very talented RBs. When I look at the crop of Kam Martin, Devan Barrett, JaTarvious Whitlow, Asa Martin, Malik Miller, Shaun Shivers, and C.J. Tolbert, I don’t get very excited. Everything about this group leads me to believe this will be an RBBC (running back by committee) this fall. That is bad news for CFF players as they can typically be relied upon for a very high floor RB. I had Kerryon Johnson in one of my leagues last season and played a monumental role in securing me the #1 playoff seed in a 50-team-league. Whitlow is a player that I hadn’t heard of until a week ago, and from my understanding, he is a converted WR. Asa Martin is a talented back, but he isn’t the type of player that I would feel comfortable scheming 20 or more touches per game for. One of my colleagues, Jason DiRienzo (@allpurposeyrd8g ) gushes about the diminutive, Shaun Shivers, who is an incoming freshman with an abundance of skill. Again, he is going to come in weighing less than 175 pounds, so I don’t think that is the recipe for a bunch of touches. Perhaps one or two players will emerge, and that will be something I’ll be looking for during their scrimmage.
Auburn’s WR room has been decimated the past few weeks. They have lost both Eli Stove and Will Hastings to ACL injuries that will likely cost them at least a portion of the 2018 season. According to AL.com “Ryan Davis, who led Auburn with 84 receptions for 815 yards and five touchdowns last season, is the starting flanker, and true freshman Shedrick Jackson has been primarily in that role as well, though he was in an orange non-contact jersey on Thursday.” Jackson is the great-nephew of Bo Jackson, so we know he’s playing with a suped-up gene pool, at a minimum. Darius Slayton returns, and Marquis McClain has done some good things this spring. At split-end, Nate Craig-Myers has the job pretty much solidified. A quick aside here, NCM is a guy that I’ve liked a lot. This feels embarrassing to say now, but in a devy draft last season, I remember saying to myself, “If NCM is there in round five, I’ll take him. If he’s gone, I’ll take AJ Brown.” Fast forward less than one calendar year, Nate Craig-Myers has been so unproductive that he didn’t make our 2018 Edition of the Devy Watch and AJ Brown was a lock for a first-round grade from us. I’m still somewhat optimistic that Craig-Myers can fulfill his potential, but it has to be this year or else he’s just another terrific athlete that never developed into a good football player. Another player I had higher expectations for in 2017 was TE Sal Cannella. He got very little action as a receiver, but with the recent attrition to the WRs, there is some talk of him lining up at times as a mismatch slot/move tight end. The cavalry is set to arrive this summer with Matthew Hill, Anthony Schwartz, and Seth Williams. Schwartz has Olympic track speed and will immediately be an option to play in the slot. Overall, this group has some talent, but I am not very excited about the majority of their skill players from a Devy nor CFF standpoint.
On defense, gotta give a shout out to Derrick Brown. For as many bad takes as Mel Kiper has, he’s actually already on the (right) scent (for once?) for 2019. I have concerns about the Auburn offense this fall, but I have much fewer about a defense spearheaded (I’m here all week) by this fella.
— Stephen Nelson (@Stephen__Nelson) January 1, 2018
Tomorrow: North Carolina State