Are Alabama's DBs the Weak Spot of the Crimson Tide Defense?

Justin DavisContributor IMay 31, 2010

This is perhaps the most talked about and speculated spot on the defense right now.

Reasons include the quality of departing starters, the number of incoming freshmen, a suspension for the rest of the season, and an injury.

The departing starters include Javier Arenas, Kareem Jackson, and Justin Woodall. Arenas and Jackson were both shutdown corners. Arenas was also a return specialist who racked up major return yardage. Woodall, who graduated, was a very smart and savvy safety.

All three also provided the leadership and mental toughness that embodied coach Nick Saban himself. That will be tough to replace on the field this coming season.

Robbie Green, who greatly contributed at safety, was poised for a breakout season. However, the NCAA would find fault with him, and subsequently Alabama has ruled him ineligible for the entire season.

Also, JUCO transfer Dequan Menzie tore his Achilles tendon and will also be out for the season. Menzie would have been a prime candidate to come in and start immediately as a shutdown corner.

Mark Barron, an equally tough safety, returns with the focus and determination to make the DBs the strong point of the defense. Vigor star athlete B.J. Scott, who is a playmaker, also returns with Robert Lester.

Joining them is Dre Kirkpatrick, the No. 1 cornerback recruit in the nation last year. Kirkpatrick would have started anywhere else in the country as a true freshman had it not been for Arenas and Jackson.

LSU transfer Phelon Jones is also in the mix. Jones possesses the ability and versatility to play at safety, nickelback, or cornerback.

The incoming freshmen include John Fulton, DeMarcus Milliner, Jarrick Williams, Nick Perry, and Deion Belue. Milliner has the size, speed, and versatility to play safety and corner. He's also the highest rated player in this incoming class and a threat to return kicks as well. Milliner doubled as a WR at his high school and did very well returning kicks. This kid is a true athlete.

Fulton not only possesses 4.4 speed and great ball skills but also is a very smart football player. He played a lot of coverage in high school and should do well with Saban's complex schemes. Fulton's aforementioned 4.4 speed and ball skills make him another legitimate threat in the return game.

Williams is a bone-crushing, hard-tackling safety. He can stuff the run at the line of scrimmage or play Cover 2 or even single safety in pass coverage. At 6'1", 205 pounds, he will be a monster once Scott Cochran gets his hands on him.

Belue didn't receive much fanfare in his recruitment, but Saban and Co. saw something in him to offer him early on and stick with him. He is also fast and will compete at cornerback and in the return game, where he was money in high school.

The number of incoming freshmen at the same position should deter future recruits knowing the situation, right? Not so fast my friend. Hasean Clinton-Dix is a 6'2", 200-pound safety who is an Under Armour All-American and blue-chipper at his position. Clinton-Dix hails from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, FL, a school that has produced its fair share of football talent at the next level.

Fellow ESPNU Watch Listers with Alabama in their crosshairs include Enrique Florence, Jabari Gorman, Damien Swann, Wayne Lyons, Jonathan Rose, and Brandon Phelps.

The Tide may very well struggle with DBs in the early goings, but rest assured, Saban is too brilliant a tactician and these young men too smart and talented to allow that to be the case for long.