Auburn football enters spring looking for next Carlton Davis at cornerback

Auburn football will return to action next week with the start of spring practices on March 1. Between now and then, SEC Country will preview each of the Tigers’ position groups heading into camp. Up next, we move to the cornerbacks.

Auburn cornerback depth charts

Cornerback

  • Javaris Davis (Junior)
  • Traivon Leonard (Sophomore)
  • Malcolm Askew (Redshirt freshman)

Cornerback

  • Jamel Dean (Junior)
  • John Broussard Jr. (Junior)
  • Christian Tutt (Freshman)

Nickel back

  • Jeremiah Dinson (Junior) or Jordyn Peters (Sophomore)
  • Jayvaughn Myers (Sophomore)

D epartures, arrivals

  • Departures: Carlton Davis
  • Arrivals: Christian Tutt (early enrollee), Roger McCreary (summer enrollee)

The question

Can Auburn develop another lockdown cornerback like Carlton Davis?

Auburn returns two players with extensive starting experience at cornerback, Jamel Dean and Javaris Davis, but there is a hole with the loss of Carlton Davis. The potential first-round NFL draft pick was strong in coverage last season. Although he didn’t have many breakups and interceptions, that was a good thing — that meant quarterbacks weren’t throwing to him as often.

The Tigers could use another player like that in 2018. Dean has the length and physical skills that are comparable to Carlton Davis, but he hasn’t had more than a year of experience. If he can make that leap to a shutdown-style corner like the departed Davis, the Tigers’ young secondary should be in a great spot next season.

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While smaller, Davis has room to improve in his third season of starting experience. Christian Tutt will get in the mix at the position as an early enrollee, and Traivon Leonard could be in for a sophomore surge after solid work as a freshman in 2017. There are experienced options here, but they all need to take the next step.

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Auburn cornerback Javaris Davis contributed through injuries last season. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The star

Javaris Davis

Davis dealt with various injuries last season, but he will return as the most experienced cornerback on Auburn’s roster. One of the fastest players on the team, Davis is a huge weapon at covering the speedy flankers and even some of the slot targets that populate the SEC. Getting more interceptions would be a big goal for Davis, as he has the ability to flip the field with his athleticism on the outside.

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Auburn cornerback Christian Tutt will compete for a key role in the secondary as a freshman.(Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

The wild card

Christian Tutt

Auburn coaches didn’t mince words when they sealed the deal with Tutt before he enrolled on campus. Auburn is looking for someone to play Carlton Davis’ role as a physical, shutdown cornerback, and they told him he could be the one. Enrolling early will be huge for his chances. The U.S. Army All-American has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks on the roster in 2018, even if he doesn’t start.

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Auburn defensive back Jordyn Peters led the team in tackles in the Peach Bowl. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The prediction

Jordyn Peters settles at nickel back, while Jeremiah Dinson moves to safety.

At the end of the season, Peters said he would most likely play nickel or cornerback in 2018. Dinson was a strong choice at nickel last season, but his experience and versatility could be best served as a safety position that lost three seniors to graduation. Peters’ skill set works best in the nickel, so let’s say he’ll establish a foothold there in spring practice while Dinson gets looked at more at safety.

The stat

6. Auburn only had 6 interceptions last season, which was only the second time in the last decade in which the Tigers only had single-digits in that area. Javaris Davis was the only player to have multiple interceptions, but he’ll need a lot more help. This is the biggest area of improvement for the Auburn defense in 2018.

The quote

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele on the personnel returning in the secondary in 2018:

“Well, if we can continue to keep the focus and the work ethic to try to improve every day, we certainly have a very talented group. We have a very experienced group. We have a group of young guys that have matriculated to the standard rather quickly. If we can add to that with some young guys — not that it’s necessary, but it helps — then if we keep the mindset and the mental focus of relentless effort, physical and mental toughness and we are resilient in that we don’t ever get that, ‘I’ve arrived syndrome’… we’re accomplished, we’ve arrived, we’re playing good defense. Every team is different, so we have to literally have to start over [after the season] with the mindset and the teaching process and rebuild it again. If we can do that, we have the talent. And if we keep the mental focus sharp on those things, we have a chance to keep going.”

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