2014 Big 12 Preview: Def. Line Unit Rankings

Posted Aug 15, 2014

Preview 2014 - Big 12 Defensive Line Unit Rankings & Breakdowns

 Defensive Lines


- 2014 Big 12 Preview
- 2014 CFN Big 12 Schedules & Picks: Baylor to OU
- 2014 CFN Big 12 Schedules & Picks: OSU to WVU
- CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- Big 12 Team Looks & Predicted Finish   
Unit Rankings QB | RB | WR | OL
DL | LB | DB | ST | Coaches

- 2014 Baylor Preview
- 2014 Iowa State Preview  
- 2014 Kansas Preview  
- 2014 Kansas State Preview
- 2014 Oklahoma Preview
- 2014 Oklahoma State Preview  
- 2014 TCU Preview 
- 2014 Texas Preview 
- 2014 Texas Tech Preview 
- 2014 West Virginia Preview  
1. Oklahoma
The Sooners ended the season with a huge performance against Alabama, and it comes back absolutely loaded for 2014. There’s some tweaking and rearranging of how the alignments will be at times, with Geneo Grissom working as a hybrid, and the front three will be a brick wall. Chuka Ndulue and Charles Tapper are great-sized 3-4 ends, and the massive Jordan Phillips will hold things down inside. There’s depth, versatility – depending on what’s done with the outside linebackers – and a whole bunch of talent.
Unit Ranking: 9

2. TCU
It’s all about the status of Devonte Fields. As is, the line should be outstanding against the run after leading the Big 12 allowing just 1,570 yards and 14 scores, and now the tackles return with Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson clogging up the interior. 6-5, 280-pound Terrell Lathan is a big end who can move, but again, the key is Fields. One of the nation’s best pass rushers, he was hurt all of last year and now is trying to get past off-the-field problems this offseason. Assuming he’ll be back, TCU’s line will be fantastic.
Unit Ranking: 8.5

3. Texas
Even without Chris Whaley and Jackson Jeffcoat, the line will still be outstanding at getting into the backfield. Cedric Reed is a big force on the outside, and Malcom Brown is a big force on the nose. Can the line be stronger against the run? The talent is there, the coaching is going to be terrific, and there’s a NFL-look to all four spots. It was a great offseason, and now the Texas D line should play like the Texas D line again.
Unit Ranking: 8

4. Baylor
The offense got all of the attention, but the defense improved and became a force of its own, especially when it came to getting into the backfield. The tackles will be the strength with Andrew Billings on the nose and Beau Blackshear a good, veteran talent, and there’s more size on the outside with 6-9, 275-pound Shawn Oakman a massive end. Jamal Palmer is a machine at getting into the backfield.
Unit Ranking: 8

5. Kansas State
The Wildcats didn’t come up with too many tackles for loss, but the run defense was terrific and there was a good pass rush. The return of Ryan Mueller gives KSU a star pass rusher to build around after coming up with 11.5 sacks. Travis Britz Is a good, strong tackle, and JUCO transfer Terrell Clinkscales brings the bulk to the interior. As is, this was going to be a good line with depth, but Clinkscales takes it up a notch.
Unit Ranking: 8

6. Oklahoma State
The line was a major positive last season, and it should grow into a big plus again with Jimmy Bean looking the part at one end, and James Castleman a veteran presence at tackle with the ability to get behind the line. Sam Wren appears to be ready to do more on one end, and JUCO transfer Ofa Hautau will be an instant part of the tackle rotation. Don’t expect much of a drop-off.
Unit Ranking: 7.5

7. Texas Tech
Can the run defense improve? Can there be more of a pass rush? Both ends are back including Branden Jackson and Pete Robertson, a hybrid who can get behind the line from time to time. Massive JUCO transfer Rika Levi might be what the run defense needs, while there are options to rotate in on the nose. The run line will be better at holding up against the run, but compared to the rest of the better Big 12 teams, the Red Raiders won’t be quite up to snuff.
Unit Ranking: 6.5

8. West Virginia
The run defense didn’t get the job done, and the pass rush wasn’t there. Can it be better with just one starter back? The linebackers will have to be the stars in the 3-4, and the front three will just have to hold up. There’s side with big ends in a rotation including 294-pound Dontrill Hyman and 308-pound Christian Brown like two tackles to hold up against the run. Can the line be better? The production can’t be much worse.
Unit Ranking: 6.5

9. Iowa State
Last in the Big 12 against the run in a big way, and in the basement in conference rankings in sacks and tackles for loss, the line needs to be far, far better. Corey Morrissey did what he could on one end, and Brandon Jensen is a veteran on the nose, but the Cyclones need Tennessee transfer Trent Taylor to become a star on the outside. Can the JUCO transfers make a difference? They need to.
Unit Ranking: 6

10. Kansas
The line might not have been special, but it wasn’t all that bad compared to the team’s other problems. Back and healthy in the middle is Keon Stowers, a decent run stopper on the nose who has to stay in one piece. Can Ben Goodman provide more of a pass rush? The outside linebackers will do more in a modified 3-4, but Goodman and Andrew Bolton have to start getting into the backfield. It’ll be a better front three, but I’ll get hammered on at times.
Unit Ranking: 6