Auburn football: Projecting the Tigers' post-spring right guard depth chart

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMay 4, 2014 

Chad Slade started every game at right guard last season. Whether he'll return to the spot this fall is still uncertain.

TODD VAN EMST — Auburn University

Editor's note: Auburn's spring practice concluded with the A-Day game April 19. Some positions didn't change. Some had upheaval. With that in mind, Auburn beat writer Ryan Black will give his position-by-position projection of the entire depth chart as the Tigers head into the summer. The series continues with the right guards.

Who's Who:

Chad Slade, senior: Started all 14 games at right guard last year; Three-year starter; 36 starts in past three seasons

Jordan Diamond, sophomore: Appeared in four games (Arkansas State, Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic and Tennessee) last year

Deon Mix, redshirt freshman: Redshirted during 2013 season

Pre-spring projection:

1. Slade

2. Diamond*

3. Mix

Post-spring projection:

1. Slade

2. Avery Young

3. Diamond/Mix

*Asterisk denoted Diamond's murky status following offseason knee surgery

Analysis: At the outset of the spring, this seemed to be another offensive position with little uncertainty: Slade started every game at the spot in 2013, and there was no reason to believe it would be any different this fall.

With two weeks remaining in the spring, however, Auburn's coaching staff shook things up, moving Slade to left guard and demoting him to the second team. His replacement was Young, who slid inside from right tackle. Once coaches noticed reporters publicizing Slade's move, they quickly did their best to downplay that any change had occurred.

Both Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said they were simply shuffling things up to create depth at multiple positions on the line; above all else, they assured Slade's job was safe.

"I want to make it very clear, we've not made any changes to our offensive line,” Lashlee said at the time. “I really don't know why people think that. We're doing at offensive line the same thing we're doing at receiver, the same thing we're doing at running back and everywhere else and mixing and matching people.”

This appeared to hold true at the A-Day game, as Slade was back in the starting lineup at right guard.

Still, the only people who know whether he'll be there when the Tigers open preseason camp are the coaches. Regardless of who ends up starting at right guard, J.B. Grimes proved last season that he's one of the most talented offensive line coaches in the nation. Whoever Grimes puts there, one can be sure the player will be up to the task.

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