Auburn's secondary steadily improved throughout the 2018 season with the help of Noah Igbinoghene, who made the move from wide receiver to cornerback prior to spring drills. With just one departure, Jamel Dean, the returning defensive backs look to build on a solid 2018 campaign.
Dean's decision to leave early for the NFL was a bit of a surprise. The junior cornerback had nine pass breakups and was tied for the team lead with two interceptions to go along with 30 tackles, including two for a loss and a sack.
The unit finished the season 58th in pass defense and 31st in pass efficiency defense, 30th on third-downs, 24th in interceptions (14) and tied for 28th in passes defended (68).
Even without Dean for the 2019 season, Auburn has enough returning talent to improve on those numbers and Igbinoghene will once again play a major role in the defensive backfield.
Igbinoghene's decision to jump from receiver to the defensive side of the ball turned out to be a smart move for the entire secondary. He led the team with 11 pass breakups to go along with an interception, a forced fumble and 50 tackles.
At the other cornerback spot, Christian Tutt is set to start after a strong freshman season in which he saw considerable playing time in 11 of Auburnís 13 games. Tutt finished with 25 tackles, one for a loss, one sack, one interception, and two hurries.
Javaris Davis recorded 41 tackles, three for a loss, one sack, eight pass breakups, and hauled in two interceptions mainly at nickel last season. He should see most of his action again at nickel but could rotate to the outside when needed.
At strong safety, Daniel Thomas thought about leaving early for the NFL Draft but opted to return for his senior season in 2019.
In his first year as a full-time starter, he emerged as one of the biggest playmakers on the Tigersí defense. He finished tied for second on the team with 74 tackles, two for a loss, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, three hurries, while adding a pair of interceptions (including a pick-six).
Jamien Sherwood was one of the nationís top freshman safeties in 2018. He finished the season with 23 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, an interception, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry while backing up Thomas at strong safety.
Jeremiah Dinson also considered leaving early for the NFL but opted to return for one more season. In 2018, Dinson recorded 64 tackles, four for a loss, one sack, three pass breakups, one hurry, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
Dinson will be penciled in as the starter at free safety in the fall, but Smoke Monday could see plenty of playing time after gaining valuable experience as a freshman a year ago.