Stanford Projected 2014 Depth Chart: Defense

Ronnie Harris has surged in the staff's eyes

The 2014 season is still about six months away, but let's pretend that it's kicking off tomorrow. After watching a session of spring practice and learning about the Stanford team, here's The Bootleg's first crack at a projected depth chart for the next campaign.



Click here for the 2014 Projected Depth Chart: Offense.
*Indicates incoming true freshman

Defensive Tackle
1 - David Parry
2 - Aziz Shittu
3 - Nathanael Lohn
4 - Anthony Hayes
5 - Lance Callihan
? - Ikenna Nwafor

The Take: Parry should be fully recovered from the lower abdominal injury that nagged him throughout last season, but Nwafor's status (foot) is much more uncertain, so it's impossible to project where he'll be in this pecking order (last season, he began at No. 2). Shittu's versatility (he was originally only at defensive end) may finally give him the inside track at significant playing time, while the Cardinal is also hoping for a Lohn emergence. This is the last chance for Hayes and Callihan, who are both seniors.

Defensive End (two starters)
1 - Henry Anderson
2 - Blake Lueders
3 - Luke Kaumatule
4 - Aziz Shittu
5 - Jordan Watkins
6 - Solomon Thomas*
7 - Harrison Phillips*
8 - Alex Yazdi
9 - J.B. Salem
10 - Sam Shober

The Take: Lueders, moved from outside linebacker in the middle of the 2013 season, will be tasked with bulking up this offseason to ready himself for a full season at defensive end. Kaumatule's incredible raw potential has drawn rave reviews, while this is the season in which Watkins would be well served to make a strong depth chart push. Thomas and Phillips, the two incoming freshmen, both project as future stalwarts. Their first work with Randy Hart begins this summer as the Cardinal attempts to replace Ben Gardner and Josh Mauro.

Outside Linebacker (two starters)
1 - James Vaughters
2 - Kevin Anderson
3 - Peter Kalambayi
4 - Mike Tyler
5 - Torsten Rotto
6 - Lane Veach*
7 - Sam Shober

The Take: Anderson's remarkable development is step one in Stanford's unenviable task of replacing Trent Murphy. The next key will be getting production beyond the two starting bodies. Kalambayi and Tyler are both naturally talented pass rushers, and they're certainly on track for playing time in the coming years. Looking further down the road, Veach compares well to a young Murphy.

Inside Linebacker (two starters)
1 - A.J. Tarpley
2 - Blake Martinez
3 - Joe Hemschoot
4 - Noor Davis
5 - Kevin Palma
6 - Joey Alfieri* (also projected as potential OLB)
7 - Bobby Okereke* (also projected as potential OLB)
8 - Jordan Perez*
9 - Craig Jones
10 - Sam Yules

The Take: Shayne Skov enjoyed the headlines in 2013, so it's easy to forget that Tarpley racked up 93 tackles from the inside. The Cardinal have been grooming Martinez to take Skov's spot for two years now, and it appears that he has the inside track to earn the starting nod. Hemschoot, who moved back from the outside, will certainly have chances to contribute his quick-hitting ability. This may be the critical year for formerly touted recruit Noor Davis. He has shown strides, but the younger Palma is also making noise, and a touted trio of incoming freshmen may also be knocking on the door soon. David Shaw has noted that Stanford is not sure whether it will use Alfieri and Okereke on the inside or at outside linebacker.

Cornerback (two starters)
1 - Alex Carter
2 - Wayne Lyons
3 - Ronnie Harris
4 - Ra'Chard Pippens
5 - Taijuan Thomas
6 - Chandler Dorrell
7 - Terrence Alexander*
8 - Alijah Holder*
9 - Denzel Franklin*
10 - Alameen Murphy*

The Take: Carter and Lyons are the clear-cut starters here, but Harris surged forward during impressive playing time late last season. The battle for Stanford's fourth cornerback spot (significant, since the Cardinal have rotated two sets of two in the past) figures to generate mayhem. Pippens has six-foot-two size, and he's been getting his first extended scrimmage action in practice. Since Carter and Harris have missed spring action, Thomas and Dorrell have also both been able to capitalize on extra snaps. There certainly won't be any shortage of material here for new DB coach Duane Akina to work with. Four freshmen, highlighted by the polished Alexander and the physical Holder, will all throw their hats into the ring this summer.

Nickel Back
1 - Wayne Lyons
2 - Ronnie Harris
3 - Taijuan Thomas
BIG nickel - Zach Hoffpauir
JUMBO nickel - Joe Hemschoot

The Take: Building on the cornerback preview, it's a fun time to track the development of the Stanford secondary. With Usua Amanam gone, the Cardinal must find a new way to play their cards on passing downs. The initial plan is have Lyons shift inside to nickel while Harris takes over on the corner. Thomas has been playing nickel back for the second team. Last year, the defense also introduced a pair of variations for passing downs that called for a sturdier presence against the run. In these, Hoffpauir and Hemschoot both gave nickel back a whirl.

Strong Safety
1 - Jordan Richards
2 - Kyle Olugbode
3 - Zach Hoffpauir
4 - John Flacco
5 - Calvin Chandler

The Take: Richards is obviously the starter here, but the importance of positional versatility in Stanford's secondary must be emphasized: All players must master the strong and free safety playbook. Given the massive question mark at free safety, the Cardinal will most certainly tap into the strong safety pool to help contribute to their position of need. Olugbode's shift early in camp is a prime example of that, and it has opened the door for plenty of Flacco and Chandler action in spring ball.

Free Safety
1 - Kyle Olugbode
2 - Kodi Whitfield
3 - Dallas Lloyd
4 - Brandon Simmons*
5 - Wayne Lyons (ready and able to move from CB if necessary)

The Take: Whitfield has excellent safety instincts remaining from high school ball, while Lloyd is the big hitter. Olugbode, though, has mastered the playbook, so he's in the lead for now. Simmons' film shows a very polished incoming freshman, so it will be fascinating to see if he can crack what promises to be a wide-open competition to replace Ed Reynolds. Lyons, who was one of the nation's elite safeties in high school, told The Bootleg he is willing and able to move over from cornerback in a pinch.

Kicker
1 - Jordan Williamson
2 - Conrad Ukropina

The Take: This is Williamson's fifth year. Though Ukropina still has eligibility remaining, Stanford will likely pursue a kicker in its 2016 recruiting class.

Punter
1 - Ben Rhyne
2 - Alex Robinson

The Take: Rhyne is also entering his fifth and final year, while Robinson will be a sophomore. That means the Cardinal will likely also pursue a punter in the 2015 recruiting class. 

Longsnapper
1 - Reed Miller
2 - Austin Tubbs
2 - C.J. Keller*

The Take: Miller held the job in 2013. Keller is an elite incoming prospect.

Click here for the 2014 Stanford Projected Depth Chart: Offense
Stanford Moving Forward: Quarterback (Pt. 1)
Stanford Moving Forward: Running Back (Pt. 2)
Stanford Moving Forward: Wide Receiver/Tight End (Pt. 3)
Stanford Moving Forward: Offensive Line (Pt. 4)
Stanford Moving Forward: Defensive Line (Pt. 5)
Stanford Moving Forward: Linebacker (Pt. 6)
Stanford Moving Forward: Defensive Back (Pt. 7)






David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.

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