When you think SEC defensive tackle, the 6-foot-4, 330-pound anchor to a 3-4 defense is what comes to mind. So many teams in the conference run the base 3-4 and use their tackle to eat up double teams and free up linebackers. There are certainly some dominant big guys who deserve All-SEC consideration.
Nkemdiche came into college as a defensive end expecting to dominate opposing tackles, giving quarterbacks nightmares. That didn’t exactly happen in his freshman season, but a move to tackle at the end of the year helped get the sack party going.
Now, with the experience gained last season and another offseason to get stronger, Nkemdiche is primed to be a force in the middle of the Rebels’ defense. His combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism will be tough to handle for most offensive lines. The pressure he can generate up the middle will make quarterbacks very uncomfortable during the fall. The Rebels will have a very good defense, and it will begin with Nkemdiche up front.
For Auburn, Wright will step in as a senior leader of a very talented group of defensive linemen. He will be the engine that drives the Tigers’ defense in 2014. Dee Ford is gone and someone will need to replace his production and energy on the field. Wright can help be that guy.
The Tigers will move guys around up front on their defensive line, so look for Wright to get time at both end and tackle. He should continue to primarily play on the inside where, like Nkemdiche, he can generate pressure up the middle in the quarterback’s face. With Wright anchoring the line along with young talent all around him, the Tigers should look forward to a solid defense again this fall.
Making these choices in the SEC is never easy, but Nkemdiche and Wright deserve to be All-SEC and will dominate the line of scrimmage in 2014.