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How recruiting can help Alabama improve offensive line

Alabama relies on a strong offensive line for its success, and the Tide will need depth and to fill a couple holes on the line in 2016. Sol Neelman for ESPN

A look at Alabama's biggest position need for 2016 and how the Crimson Tide are addressing it in recruiting:

Biggest need: While it’s tempting to say that Alabama must find its quarterback of the future, the truth is that coach Nick Saban and his staff should be able to identify that person already on the roster. Whether it’s Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell or Blake Barnett, you’re talking about one of the top-five-rated QB prospects from the 2013, 2014 and 2015 classes.

So with that said, the biggest area Saban and Co. need to improve is the offensive line. The fact that this past season’s group won the Joe Moore Award (nation's top offensive line unit) is a bit misleading. Overall, the line wasn’t as good as it had been in years past. The Crimson Tide allowed nine more sacks than in 2014 and the most sacks since 2010. Quite uncharacteristically, they also ranked a mediocre 33rd nationally in the percentage of rushes that went for zero or negative yards.

Left tackle Cam Robinson and guards Ross Pierschbacher and Alphonse Taylor return next season, but the absence of center Ryan Kelly looms large. A three-year starter at arguably the most important position on the line, Kelly won’t easily be replaced. And while Dominick Jackson had his ups and downs at right tackle, finding a suitable replacement for him won’t be so simple either.

While there are some talented linemen ready to rise up the depth chart, the fact remains that recruiting on the offensive and defensive lines is a numbers game. The more top talent Alabama can throw at the position, the better off the Tide will be. -- Alex Scarborough

Recruiting scoop: Under Saban, Alabama has been known for having a dominating offensive line, and this past year was no difference as the line led the way for Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. And the Crimson Tide are once again stacking up on the offensive line in recruiting.

Four of Alabama’s top six commitments so far in the 2016 class are from offensive linemen. The group is led by the No. 3-ranked offensive tackle in the country, Jonah Williams from Folsom (California) High School. The Crimson Tide have also landed commitments from the No. 3- and 4-ranked guards in the ESPN 300, Deonte Brown and Chris Owens

Alabama also dipped in to the junior college ranks to land a commitment from the No. 1 juco offensive tackle, Charles Baldwin. In all, Alabama certainly appears to have the top-ranked offensive line recruiting class in the country. And with the amount of top prospects still remaining on their recruiting board, the Tide could compete for their fifth No. 1-ranked overall recruiting class in a row. -- Derek Tyson