It’s only spring, but it’s never too early to look ahead to the fall. In the sixth installment of a position-by-position breakdown of the Crimson Tide’s 2015 roster heading into spring practice, Tide 99.1 looks at the defensive line.

Who’s gone:

-Brandon Ivory (graduated/NFL Draft)

-Anthony Orr (graduated/NFL Draft)

-Dee Liner (left program/expected to transfer)

Who’s back:

-Jonathan Allen (junior)

-Dakota Ball (redshirt junior)

-Johnny Dwight (redshirt freshman)

-Joshua Frazier (sophomore)

-Da’Shawn Hand (sophomore)

-Darren Lake (senior)

-Korren Kirven (redshirt junior)

-D.J. Pettway (senior)

-Jarran Reed (senior)

-A’Shawn Robinson (junior)

-O.J. Smith (redshirt freshman)

-Dalvin Tomlinson (redshirt junior)

-Stephen Hodge (walk-on senior)

-Bernel Jones (walk-on senior)

-Jake Long (walk-on junior)

Who’s new:

-Jonathan Taylor (JUCO transfer)

Keep an eye on: Da’Shawn Hand. Though attrition was marginal to what is widely considered to be Alabama’s deepest position group this offseason, it would be hard to imagine that the former No. 1 overall high school prospect’s role doesn’t take another step forward this season. It’s doubtful Hand will be a starter and it’s no sure bet that he will be a second-stringer, either, but he showed he was hard to keep off the field even as a true freshman last year. In just nine games, the Woodbridge, Virginia native had two sacks in his seven overall tackles, tying him for second on the team among defensive linemen.

Overview: So long as it remains healthy, Alabama’s defensive line should be the least of its concerns this spring and in the coming season. The Crimson Tide loses one part-time starter (Ivory) from last season but has plenty already in reserve to make up for it.

Allen, Robinson and Reed headline the group as returning starters, or first wave in Alabama’s constantly rotating defensive line. Allen and Robinson have excelled as regulars in the rotation since their freshman year and could go as high as the first round in next year’s NFL Draft. Reed, a JUCO transfer a year ago, considered declaring for this year’s draft before ultimately deciding to stay another in school.

The next platoon(s) in line are much more difficult to predict though it’s usually never the same players in the game at the same time anyway. Pettway and Tomlinson are two of Alabama’s longest-tenured players on the defensive line and should receive plenty of meaningful playing time again next season at the two end positions. Taylor and Lake will compete for playing time to fill Ivory’s role as more of a situational run-stopping plug in the middle as true nose tackles. Hand saw a significant number of snaps for freshman standards a year ago but it will be interesting to see if they increase or stagnate next season.

Predicted 2015 Post-Spring Depth Chart:

DE

1. Jonathan Allen

2. D.J. Pettway/Dalvin Tomlinson

DT

1. A’Shawn Robinson

2. Jonathan Taylor/Darren Lake

3. Joshua Frazier

4. Korren Kirven

DE

1. Jarran Reed

2. Da’Shawn Hand/Dalvin Tomlinson

Still to come:

-Daron Payne (The five-star defensive tackle from Birmingham is arguably the Tide’s best recruit in this year’s class.)

Up next: Linebackers

Previously:

Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive line