2012 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings, D Lines
Texas DE Alex Okafor
Texas DE Alex Okafor
Posted Aug 24, 2012

2012 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings - Defensive Lines

Preview 2012 - Unit Rankings

Defensive Lines

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2012 CFN Preseason Rankings 
1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 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 124 

CFN 2012 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries | Special Teams  
- 2011 Unit Rankings | 2010 Unit Rankings

Note: This is based on talent, returning starters and skill. It's not necessarily based on what the final order will be.

 1. LSU

T he Tiger defensive line will once again be one of the best in the nation with superstar prospects at all four spots and enough depth to fill in the gaps when needed. The pass rush will be dominant from Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo from the outside, while the defensive tackle rotation will be among the best in the country. The Tigers will load up at all four spots and should dominate against the run after allowing just 90 yards per game and seven scores. With good depth and elite talent among the top four players, good luck getting 100 yards on the ground against this group.

2. Florida State

It's taken a couple of years, but Florida State is back to being dominant up front, much the way it was during the glory years under Bobby Bowden. There'll be no one way to neutralize the Seminoles. If Brandon Jenkins, Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine attract too much attention on the outside, then the tackle rotation will make opponents pay the price. And if the interior draws a crowd, those pass rushers will haunt the quarterback. The Noles are poised to make a statement that they're home to the premier D-line in America in 2012.

3. Alabama

Tackle Jesse Williams is one of the best players in college football and he's good enough to make the run defense phenomenal by himself. Damion Square is another rock against the run and Ed Stinson should be a solid pass rusher with more work. No one will move this group around. The Alabama linemen have one job – lock everyone up. The Tide uses three defensive tackles who can hold up against the run and occupy blockers, and with Williams starring in the middle there won't be any running inside.

4. Texas

Watch out. Jackson Jeffcoat has to be healthy and back to form, but if all the parts are working the defensive front has the potential to be among the best in college football. Alex Okafor and Jeffcoat will be millionaires next year at this time and there's more than enough speed, size and athleticism to form a rotation to keep them fresh outside and provide some nice options inside. The talent level is through the roof, and it'll show. Adding even more to the equation will be good recruits Hassan Ridgeway and Torshiro Davis, who might not be all that big but they can fly. Star recruit Malcolm Davis is a 6-4, 285-pound defensive tackle, but he can move, too. Human beings shouldn't be this big and this fast, but JUCO transfer Brandon Moore has all the freakish tools and ability to potentially become a dominant force on the inside. The line is loaded with athletes, but Moore is athletic and huge.

5. Virginia Tech

After starting so many underclassmen in 2011, yet still flourishing, the Virginia Tech D line is set to stake its claim to one of the liveliest front walls in America. The unit is fast, assertive and deep, all of which is going to equal a full season of perpetual harassment for quarterbacks. If James Gayle's ankle isn't barking, he's good enough to warrant multiple blockers, and to rank among the nation's leaders in sacks.

6. Georgia

If John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers really are a little bit better, then all of a sudden the line should go from great to special against the run, while getting more of a pass rush from Washington on the end would be a nice boost. The linebackers will end up being the flashy stars in the front seven, but the front three should turn out to be a brick wall. . Right now there are more than a few NFL teams that wouldn't be too upset with Georgia's tackles in their rotation. These are two very big, very promising run stuffers who appear ready to become even more effective all-around playmakers. Don't be shocked if these two get on the field at the same time.

7. Michigan State

Look out. The offensive line might be the team's biggest strength, but the defensive front won't be that far off and could be better if the tackles step up their play and take over for Jerel Worthy without a problem. Good luck picking your poison on which end to block, and good luck keeping William Gholston and Marcus Rush down if the young backups are as strong as expected to give the stars meaningful rest. There will be times when the line completely and totally stones opposing running games, but it needs to do it on a consistent basis.

8. South Carolina

Ultra-talented and ultra-athletic, the Gamecocks won't have a problem getting into the backfield from all four spots. The run defense has to be a bit stronger, especially without Travian Robertson, but big plays should make up for a few gouges now and then. Some NFL teams would be more than happy to start the season with Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor on the end. These two are relentless, and the scary part is that Clowney didn't know what he was doing last season. This year, look out.

9. Ohio State

Expect a huge difference. The line wasn't awful last season, but it wasn't the dominant force that Ohio State's front four usually is. With so much talent and so much experience, consider it a shocker if the coaching staff doesn't crank up this group into the best line in the Big Ten. Assuming Nathan Williams is back at some point after suffering a knee problem, all of a sudden the line is loaded with great depth and several options to go along with four returning starters. This is a big, big group that will know what it's doing.

10. Utah

The Utes are going to feature a grown-up D-line that consistently creates a push and moves the pocket. Star Lotulelei is essentially an NFL-ready tackle who'll have his way with opposing blockers on most Saturdays. The key for Utah will be the senior's supporting cast to make the most of their one-on-one situations. No. 92 will get maximum attention once again, so it'll be up to Nate Fakahafua and the Krugers – Joe and Dave - to make the opposition pay for its blocking choices. After ranking 20th nationally versus the run, Utah doesn't see any drop-off on the horizon. With Lotulelei and Kruger on the inside, the Utes are going to create a lot of congestion forcing opposing backs to navigate outside the tackles. If the safeties and rebuilt linebackers can fill lanes quickly, the D might not allow more than three yards a carry.

10 is high in the unit ranking number.

Louisville  Big East 8.5
Oregon Pac-12  8.5
Illinois Big Ten 8
Missouri SEC  8
Oklahoma Big 12 8
Purdue Big Ten 8
USC Pac-12  8
Arkansas SEC 7.5
Auburn SEC 7.5
Boise State M-West 7.5
California Pac-12  7.5
Connecticut Big East 7.5
Florida SEC 7.5
Maryland  ACC 7.5
NC State ACC 7.5
North Carolina ACC   7.5
Penn State Big Ten 7.5
South Florida Big East 7.5
Texas A&M SEC  7.5
Washington   Pac-12  7.5
Arizona State Pac-12  7
Boston College ACC 7
BYU Ind 7
Cincinnati Big East 7
Clemson ACC 7
Georgia Tech ACC 7
Miami   ACC   7
Michigan Big Ten 7
Mississippi State SEC 7
Notre Dame Ind 7
Oklahoma State Big 12 7
Oregon State Pac-12  7
Stanford Pac-12  7
TCU Big 12 7
UCLA  Pac-12  7
Vanderbilt SEC 7
Wisconsin Big Ten 7
Arizona Pac-12  6.5
Kansas State Big 12 6.5
Kent State MAC 6.5
Kentucky SEC 6.5
Nebraska Big Ten  6.5
Northwestern Big Ten 6.5
Pitt Big East 6.5
Rutgers  Big East 6.5
Syracuse Big East 6.5
Temple Big East 6.5
Tennessee SEC 6.5
Texas Tech Big 12 6.5
Virginia   ACC 6.5
Wake Forest ACC 6.5
Washington State Pac-12  6.5
West Virginia Big 12 6.5
Air Force M-West 6
Colorado   Pac-12  6
FIU Sun Belt 6
Indiana  Big Ten 6
Iowa Big Ten 6
Iowa State Big 12 6
Minnesota Big Ten 6
Northern Illinois MAC 6
Ole Miss SEC 6
Southern Miss C-USA  6
Tulsa C-USA  6
WKU Sun Belt 6
Baylor Big 12 5.5
Fresno State M-West 5.5
Louisiana Tech WAC 5.5
Marshall C-USA  5.5
Nevada M-West 5.5
Ohio   MAC 5.5
Arkansas State Sun Belt 5
Bowling Green MAC 5
Colorado State M-West 5
Duke ACC   5
East Carolina C-USA  5
Eastern Michigan MAC 5
Hawaii M-West 5
Houston C-USA  5
Idaho WAC 5
Kansas Big 12 5
Miami Univ. MAC 5
Middle Tennessee Sun Belt 5
New Mexico   M-West 5
North Texas Sun Belt 5
San Diego State M-West 5
San Jose State WAC 5
Toledo MAC 5
Troy Sun Belt 5
Tulane C-USA  5
UL Lafayette Sun Belt 5
UL Monroe Sun Belt 5
UNLV M-West 5
Western Michigan MAC 5
Wyoming M-West 5
Akron MAC 4.5
Buffalo MAC 4.5
Florida Atlantic Sun Belt 4.5
Massachusetts MAC 4.5
Memphis C-USA  4.5
Navy Ind 4.5
Rice C-USA  4.5
South Alabama Sun Belt 4.5
Utah State WAC 4.5
Army Ind 4
Ball State MAC 4
Central Michigan MAC 4
New Mexico State WAC 4
Texas State WAC 4