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SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts on DL
SC's Devin Taylor
SC's Devin Taylor
CollegeFootballNews
Posted Jun 21, 2011


CFN's SEC Bloggers put the conference's defensive linemen under the microscope


Gabe Harris: On who are the SEC’s best returning defensive linemen?

There is one position that sets the SEC apart from the rest of the country... One position that has contributed more to the SEC’s five year run of dominance than any other. That position is the defensive line.

The last 5 National Champions have boasted this murderer’s row of defensive linemen: Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey for Florida in 2006; Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson for LSU in 2007; Carlos Dunlap for the Gators in 2008; Terrance Cody and Marcell Dareus for Alabama in 2009; and Nick Fairley for Auburn in 2010.

Crushing.

With both Dareus and Fairley off to NFL riches, who will carry the torch for the SEC in 2011? There is a lot of experienced talent returning, though most of it is unknown outside of the region. But that hardly matters, as who outside of the south knew Fairley at this time last year?

Devin Taylor and Melvin Ingram from South Carolina lead what looks to be the best DL in the conference. SC has six of the two deep returning, and they are athletic, physical and fast. Combine them with super prep Jadeveon Clowney and watch out SEC East.

Malik Jackson from Tennessee, Jake Bequette from Arkansas, and Kentrell Lockett from Ole Miss are seniors with a lot of experience, and will likely garner SEC postseason all-conference awards.

Overall, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn are young at the position, but Sam Montgomery, Josh Chapman, and Jeffrey Whitaker are growing up fast - they will continue the tradition of terrorizing rushers at their respective schools.


Brian Harbach: On who will be the next breakout DL?

After all the heat the University of Georgia took last season for limping to a 6-7 record, the defense ended up as one of the bright spots. Under first year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, the Bulldogs changed to a 3-4 scheme that highlighted the talent of guys like Justin Houston, but needed one more piece of the puzzle to be dominant.

Georgia was missing a dominant nose-guard, a must have when running a 3-4, but they got one this winter with Juco transfer John Jenkins.

Jenkins is a beast in a mold of Terrence Cody than Nick Fairley. There is not a lot of quickness to him at 6-4, 340 pounds, but he is a force in the middle with strength that rivals Cody's at about 30 pounds less than Terrence.

Jenkins is going to blow up a play or two every game by himself, eat up two blockers and generally take up space. But the great thing about a dominant NG is how good he makes those around him. USC Transfer Jarvis Jones will have fewer blockers to deal with, and former NG DeAngelo Tyson will see some one-on-one chances that he did not have a year ago. Jenkins will be the player to take Georgia’s defense back to the level it was when Brian VanGorder was leading the charge.


Barrett Sallee: On which team has the most riding on the DL position?

Without a doubt, it’s the South Carolina Gamecocks.

The defending SEC East champions lose Cliff Matthews, but get back Devin Taylor, a 6-7, 248-pounder that will likely be a preseason first-team All-SEC selection when the SEC media assembles in Hoover, Ala. for SEC Media Days later this summer. The Gamecocks also get another year from the underrated Melvin Ingram, who can play both defensive end and defensive tackle.

In addition to Taylor and Ingram, the Gamecocks add Jadeveon Clowney, a hot shot recruit from Rock Hill, S.C. that’s expected to contribute immediately. Clowney has already received some preseason hype as an All-SEC player. It's premature to anoint him the next big thing before he plays a college game, but that's the kind of hype this kid is bringing to Columbia.

A good pass defense starts up front, and South Carolina desperately needs the DL to step up. The secondary is talented, but got picked apart last season due in large part to communication breakdowns. What’s the easiest way to fix that problem? Don’t let the quarterback get rid of the football. The Gamecocks finished 97th in the country in pass defense last season, despite finishing 7th in the country in sacks.

If you’re a Gamecock fan, your biggest concern is that the communication problem that plagued the secondary last season got fixed in the offseason; and another dominant pass rush will go a long way in helping.


Billy Gomila: On which SEC school is today’s DL U?

There’s only one choice here: LSU. No school can match this resume since the turn of the century: 17 first- or second-team All-SEC selections, 15 NFL draft choices and six All-Americans, including the 2007 Lombardi, Outland and Nagurski awards winner Glenn Dorsey.

Louisiana is a defensive line coach’s paradise -- the state produces quantity and quality on the defensive front more than any other position. All six of LSU’s All-Americans were home-grown, including Dorsey and players like Tyson Jackson, Chad Lavalais, Kyle Williams, Drake Nevis and his fellow 2011 NFL Draftee, Lazarius Levingston.

And that local talent continues to flow; the 2011 recruiting class featured more stud Louisiana preps, including Scout.com’s No. 1 defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, and No. 8 defensive end Jermauria Rasco.

Those newbies will add to the young talent already on hand: sophomores and juniors like Michael Brockers, Bennie Logan, Lavar Edwards, Barkevious Mingo and a returning Sam Montgomery, who was on a tear in the first five games of 2010 before going down with a knee injury. While they lack starting experience, all saw heavy use in the defensive line’s rotation, and are primed to keep the LSU defensive line U tradition going in 2011.


Russ Mitchell: On who will be the conference’s next first round NFL defensive lineman?

Last year most were ready for Alabama’s Marcell Dareus, but few expected Nick Fairley to emerge into the dominating force he was. Which underscores the difficulty making this pick in June. Add to that LSU’s Drake Nevis, who many felt was a steal in the third round, and the SEC regularly produces a number of high draft picks at this position.

This year we’re going out on a limb (sarcasm) and select a junior - South Carolina’s Devin Taylor. The 6-7, 250 pound end has been wreaking havoc from one end of the conference to the other, and made 1st team All SEC in 2010 as a sophomore. (He was also Mr. Harbach’s preseason pick for breakout defensive player of the year - credit where credit’s due.)

Last season he led a defense that had more sacks than at any point in the last twenty years (41; 31 from the DL position), and Taylor played a major role in that with 7.5 to his credit.

He should be a finalist for the Lombardi Award, and will be on every Offensive Coordinator’s “to stop” list.

It’s a bit of a longer first-round shot, but pay attention to Bama’s senior DT Josh Chapman. With the support he’s going to have around him, and the success Capstone is likely to have on the field, the 6-1, 300 pound Chapman should receive a lot of wooing from NFL scouts.


Please follow Russ Mitchell on Twitter @RussMitchellCFB, Brian Harbach @harbabd and Barrett Sallee @barrettsallee.


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