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2011 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings, D Lines
South Carolina DE Devin Taylor
South Carolina DE Devin Taylor
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 16, 2011


CFN 2011 Preview Unit Rankings from top to bottom - Defensive Lines


Preview 2011 - Unit Rankings

Defensive Lines


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2011 CFN Preseason Rankings
 
1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50
51 to 60 | 61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 120

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CFN 2011 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries  | Special Teams  
- Preview 2011 | 2010 Unit Rankings

Note: This is based on talent, returning starters, and skill. It’s not necessarily based on what the final total offense statistics will be.

1. North Carolina
Forced to move on without suspended all-stars Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin in 2010, the upcoming team will be the beneficiaries of their absences. The Tar Heels were just fine up front a year ago, developing a whole new set of stars who’ll continue their quest to play someday at the next level. Carolina is loaded with talent up front, making life much easier for the back seven. Butch Davis and his staff have officially turned Chapel Hill into an NFL pipeline for defensive linemen. Carolina is once again loaded with pro-caliber talent in the trenches, boasting an All-American in Quinton Coples and a terrific supporting cast. It’ll once again dominate the line of scrimmage, gumming up running lanes and keeping passers from setting their feet in the pocket.

2. South Carolina
The defensive front was terrific last year at getting to the quarterback helping the team finish seventh in the nation, and first in the SEC, in sacks with a school-record 41. With a good blend of talented veterans and bright new stars, the line should be a terror in the backfield yet again. At this point, the USC line reloads in a hurry, and it did so with flair with the latest recruiting class. The line was very talented last year, but it was very young. It grew up in a hurry and was among the best in the nation at getting into the backfield, and it should be even stronger and more dangerous with Jadeveon Clowney entering the picture. Consider it a major disappointment if this group doesn’t help USC finish in the top ten in sacks and top 15 in tackles for loss, but the key will be if the tackles hold up. The line was great against the run last year, and it should be more than fine again.

3. Florida
Release the hounds. Head coach Will Muschamp knows how to put together killer defensive lines, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn also works with the line. If everyone can stay healthy the tackles will be phenomenal and Powell, Martin and Green should be phenomenal on the outside. It won’t matter if the line works in a 3-4 or a 4-3, the production will come. The pass rush wasn’t nearly as good as it should’ve been, and Marcus Lattimore was able to tap dance his way to a 212-yard day in the game of the 2010 East season, but the line wasn’t quite as bad as it might have appeared. Disappointing? Yes. Ineffective? At times. However, the most talented players were really, really young, as in true freshman young, and now the payoff should come. Ronald Powell, Dominique Easley, Sharrif Floyd, and Jaye Howard would each be the signature star on almost any defensive line outside of the top ten defenses, and once the light turns on for this group, look out.

4. Boise State
The Broncos came up with a dominant season up front stuffing Virginia Tech for 128 rushing yards and allowing over 200 yards just twice, with both games coming late against Nevada and Utah State. Billy Winn, Chase Baker, Tyrone Crawford, and Shae McClellin are all going to be all-stars, and Tjong-A-Tjoe is good enough to be a star with more time. The line will do everything right in another great season.

5. Georgia
It might take a little bit for the front three to come together in terms of getting into the backfield, but there shouldn’t be any problems coming up big against most running games. This was a decent group last year, but the addition of John Jenkins and the emergence of Kwame Geathers allows DeAngelo Tyson to be in the right spot and should help take the blockers away from Abry Jones. The line could be the team’s biggest strength. The line will rotate players in and out of the three spots with size at the ends and tremendous bulk in the middle, and while the tackles for loss and sacks might not be there, the big three linemen should be a rock against the run.

6. Florida State
By every possible measurement, the Seminole D-line is going to be loaded this season. Everyone, save for DE Markus White, is back, giving the staff an abundance of talent and depth at its disposal. The coaches even landed a blue-chipper out of the junior-college ranks in the offseason, enhancing the unit’s profile heading into 2011. With Brandon Jenkins leading the charge, Florida State tied Boise State for most sacks in the country. The junior is going to get his share of big plays again this fall, while freeing up his linemates to do damage. On the inside, the ‘Noles are quick off the snap and prone to collapsing the pocket from up the gut.

7. Missouri
The line could be the team’s biggest strength, and that includes a receiving corps that gets everyone back from a wildly productive unit. Even with Aldon Smith gone, Smith, Michael Sam, Brad Madison and Kony Ealy can all get into the backfield and they can all terrorize the quarterback. If Terrell Resonno and Dominique Hamilton can be more dangerous in the middle, the line will destroy offenses after making 38 sacks.

8. Miami
Although the ‘Canes lose just one regular from a year ago, it’s a big one, All-ACC DE Allen Bailey. Yeah, he’ll be missed, but this is Miami, a program that never has much trouble attracting gifted defensive linemen to Coral Gables. Last year’s ensemble was outstanding at generating backfield pressure, but need to stiffen at the point of attack and provide better support in run defense. In general, the tackles move like ends and the ends have the quickness of some outside linebackers. The Hurricanes get off the snap in a hurry and will pressure the pocket relentlessly. Even without Bailey, they have the parts to once again be among the nation’s top 10 sack units.

9. Connecticut
With eight lettermen, four starters, and a first team all-star back, Connecticut could boast the Big East’s deepest defensive line; and one of the more underrated groups in America. Only Alex Polito graduated, meaning the Huskies will have the luxury of both talent and depth. The rotation is flush, which will be a particularly huge plus to a corps of linebackers that’s rebuilding. Kendall Reyes is the star on the inside, while Jesse Joseph should shine as a star on the outside.

10. Nebraska
As long as everyone is healthy, the line should be terrific with a great rotation working around, arguably, the best tackle pair in America in Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler. Steadier production into the backfield would be nice, and more quarterback hits is a must, but the line is deep, big, and talented. With three returning starters and with Thaddeus Randle, Terrence Moore, and Jason Ankrah ready for bigger roles, there should be a good rotation for a line that knows what it’s doing.

COULD EASILY BE IN TOP TEN

Alabama SEC 
Arkansas SEC
Clemson ACC
LSU SEC
Notre Dame Ind
Ohio State Big Ten
Oklahoma Big 12
Pitt Big East
TCU M-West
Texas Big 12
USC Pac-12
Utah   Pac-12
West Virginia Big East

SOLID, WILL BE A POSITIVE

Arizona State Pac-12
Auburn SEC
Cincinnati Big East
Kent State MAC
Michigan State Big Ten
Oregon Pac-12
Penn State Big Ten
Texas A&M Big 12
UCLA  Pac-12
Virginia Tech ACC
Washington   Pac-12

AVERAGE

Arizona Pac-12
Baylor Big 12
Boston College ACC
BYU Ind
California Pac-12
Colorado   Pac-12
Georgia Tech ACC
Illinois Big Ten
Indiana  Big Ten
Iowa Big Ten
Iowa State Big 12
Kansas Big 12
Kansas State Big 12
Kentucky SEC
Louisville  Big East
Marshall C-USA
Maryland  ACC
Miami Univ. MAC
Michigan Big Ten
Minnesota Big Ten
Mississippi State SEC
NC State ACC
Nevada WAC
Northwestern Big Ten
Oklahoma State Big 12
Ole Miss SEC
Oregon State Pac-12
Purdue Big Ten
Rutgers  Big East
SMU C-USA
South Florida Big East
Southern Miss C-USA
Stanford Pac-12
Syracuse Big East
Temple MAC
Tennessee SEC
Texas Tech Big 12
Vanderbilt SEC
Virginia   ACC
Wake Forest ACC
Wisconsin Big Ten

NEEDS WORK
Duke ACC
FIU Sun Belt
Fresno State WAC
Hawaii WAC
Louisiana Tech WAC
Northern Illinois MAC
Ohio   MAC
Rice C-USA
Toledo MAC
Tulane C-USA
Tulsa C-USA
UCF C-USA
Washington State Pac-12
Western Michigan MAC

A PROBLEM
Air Force M-West
Akron MAC
Army Ind
Ball State MAC
Buffalo MAC
Central Michigan MAC
Colorado State M-West
East Carolina C-USA
Florida Atlantic Sun Belt
Houston C-USA
Idaho WAC
Memphis C-USA
Middle Tennessee Sun Belt
Navy Ind
New Mexico   M-West
San Diego State M-West
Troy Sun Belt
UAB C-USA
UNLV M-West
UTEP C-USA
Wyoming M-West

THE BOTTOM TEN

Arkansas State Sun Belt
Bowling Green MAC
Eastern Michigan MAC
New Mexico State WAC
North Texas Sun Belt
San Jose State WAC
UL Lafayette Sun Belt
UL Monroe Sun Belt
Utah State WAC
Western Kentucky Sun Belt

CFN 2011 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries  | Special Teams  
- Preview 2011 | 2010 Unit Rankings