2006 Unit Rankings – Defensive Lines

Posted Aug 27, 2006

Preview 2006 Unit Rankings Defensive Lines 

Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
Defenses | Linebackers | Secondaries | Spec. Teams

1. Nebraska

Not only does the Husker D line have six All-Big 12 candidates, it has six solid pro prospects led by ends Adam Carriker and Jay Moore. Speed rusher Barry Turner isn't as big as the two starting ends, but he'll be every bit as dangerous when he gets on the field. Ola Dagunduro, Ndamukong Suh and Barry Cryer are soon to be Big 12 household names; the NFL scouts certainly know all about them. There won't be a better front four in America at getting into the backfield from all positions.

2. Oklahoma

The line turned out to be a major plus last year, and will be even better despite the loss of Dusty Dvoracek. Injured ends Larry Birdine and John Williams are back and healthy, while there's good promise in the middle with rising stars Cory Bennett and DeMarcus Granger ready to emerge as top players. The tackles just have to hold up so the fabulous ends can do their thing. Calvin Thibodeaux, C.J. Ah You, Birdine and Williams form one of the nation's best foursomes.

3. Florida
Can anyone outside of the SEC name a player on one of the best lines in America? It's an unsung group that has at least three potential All-SEC talents if everything comes together. Marcus Thomas decided not to turn pro and should be a terror in the middle. Jarvis Moss will be a serious threat to set the record as the school's all-time single season sacker if he sees plenty of one-on-one coverage. There's more than enough depth to get the type of rotation that defensive coordinator Greg Mattison wants to employ. 

4. Miami
The line could be something special if the tackles come through with big seasons. 300 pounders Kareem Brown and Antonio Dixon and the quick Teraz McCray should be strong against the run, but the starting experience isn't there. The ends are deep and fantastic as Baraka Atkins, Bryan Pata, Eric Moncur and Calais Campbell are all pass rushing terrors who'll form a great rotation to steadily get to the quarterback. 

5. Texas
The loss of Rodrique Wright in the middle will be big unless Derek Lokey and Roy Miller can be more than adequate, but the rest of the line will be oh-my-goodness good with three All-America candidates in tackle Frank Okam and ends Tim Crowder and Brian Robison. There's more than enough quality depth to get plenty of production if injuries strike, but other than Okam, there aren't the huge, hulking tackles Texas usually throws out there.

6. Georgia Tech
The line should be the team's strength as long as the big bodies hold up in the middle. The tackles are more quick than big, so 280-pound Joe Anoai and sophomore Darryl Richard, who's coming back from a knee injury, have to be rocks while rising 260 pounders Elris Anyaibe and Vance Walker step up in the rotation. The ends are fine even though there's not a dominant pass rusher like Eric Henderson to count on. Adamm Oliver and Darrell Robertson are solid starters with a slew of talented backups to count on.

7. Missouri
It'll be a major shock if this isn't one of the Big 12's best defensive lines with five talented players with starting experience returning and even more good players among the reserves. Brian Smith is one of the nation's best pass rushers, while the combination of Stryker Sulak and Xzavie Jackson on the other side should flourish. Lorenzo Williams is a next-level prospect at tackle, while Jamar Smith should be an All-Big 12 performer on the nose. Getting to the quarterback shouldn't be a problem but the group, now that it's experienced, has to be stronger against the run.

8. Iowa
The line was considered a big problem spot going into last season after losing a slew of productive all-stars, but there were whispers that things might not be so bad with several raw, talented prospects. Even the most hopeful Hawkeye fans couldn't have foreseen how good the front four was going to become with four rising superstars with all-star potential. Ken Iwebema got most of the press after turning into a pass rushing terror, while Bryan Mattison was almost as good on the other side. Matt Kroul and Mitch King bulked up in a big hurry going from big linebackers the quick tackles in a year. Everyone can get into the backfield and everyone can stop the run with the ends bigger than the tackles.

9. Wisconsin
Very, very quietly, this might be one of the Big Ten's best defensive lines by the end of the year. It suffered through major problems last season with youth and injuries preventing any sort of consistency with little to no pass rush throughout the conference season and not nearly enough production against the run. On the positive side, several young players were thrown to the wolves and got their feet wet. The strength is at tackle where Jason Chapman, Nick Hayden, and Justin Ostrowski, if they're healthy, have All-Big Ten potential. Matthew Shaughnessy and Jamal Cooper should be decent pass rushers if they can return healthy from torn ACLs, and Joe Monty is a steady all-around end on the left side.

10. USC
This could be the Achilles' heel early, but it should turn into a killer of a pass rushing unit as the season goes on. Lawrence Jackson is an All-America caliber talent at one end, but a steady pass rusher, hopefully Kyle Moore, has to develop on the other side to take the pressure off. Sedrick Ellis is an undersized and underrated tackle to build around, and there are plenty of good prospects ready to fill in the gaps. Fortunately, the impressive linebacking corps will clean up most of the mistakes the front four makes.

11 Arizona State Pac 10
12 Auburn SEC
13 Ohio State Big Ten
14 Michigan Big Ten
15 Clemson ACC
16 Florida State  ACC
17 Georgia   SEC
18 Tennessee SEC
19 California Pac 10
20 TCU M-West
21 Mississippi State SEC
22 Virginia Tech ACC
23 Penn State Big Ten
25 Boston College  ACC
26 NC State ACC
27 West Virginia Big East
28 Louisville  Big East
29 Alabama SEC
30 Iowa State Big 12 
31 Colorado   Big 12 
32 Mississippi   SEC
33 Arkansas   SEC
34 Utah   M-West
35 Washington State Pac 10
36 North Carolina ACC
37 Notre Dame Ind
38 Oregon Pac 10
39 Duke ACC
40 Pitt Big East
41 Oregon State  Pac 10
42 Maryland ACC
43 Syracuse Big East
44 Texas Tech Big 12 
45 Oklahoma State Big 12 
46 Fresno State WAC
47 Texas A&M Big 12 
48 Kansas Big 12 
49 Boise State WAC
50 Kansas State Big 12 
51 UCLA Pac 10
52 Arizona   Pac 10
53 Baylor Big 12 
54 Washington   Pac 10
55 South Florida Big East
56 Connecticut Big East
57 Virginia ACC
58 Cincinnati Big East
59 Wake Forest ACC
60 Michigan State Big Ten
61 Southern Miss  CUSA
63 Toledo MAC
64 South Carolina SEC
65 Purdue Big Ten
66 Minnesota Big Ten
67 Kentucky SEC
68 Rutgers Big East
69 Vanderbilt SEC
70 Nevada WAC
72 East Carolina CUSA
73 BYU M-West
74 Colorado State M-West
75 Marshall CUSA
76 Illinois Big Ten
78 Northern Illinois MAC
79 Stanford Pac 10
80 Indiana Big Ten
81 Akron MAC
82 Northwestern Big Ten
83 Western Michigan MAC
84 Kent State MAC
85 Hawaii WAC
86 Troy Sun Belt
87 Miami Univ. MAC
88 Tulsa CUSA
90 New Mexico M-West
91 Navy Ind
92 Houston CUSA
93 San Diego State M-West
94 Wyoming  M-West
95 Memphis CUSA
96 Louisiana Tech WAC
97 Bowling Green MAC
98 Air Force M-West
99 Central Michigan  MAC
100 Eastern Michigan MAC
101 Tulane CUSA
102 Arkansas State Sun Belt
103 UNLV M-West
104 Ohio MAC
105 Army Ind
106 FIU Sun Belt
107 MTSU Sun Belt
108 UL Lafayette Sun Belt
109 Idaho WAC
110 Rice CUSA
111 Ball State MAC
112 Buffalo MAC
113 Utah State WAC
114 San Jose State WAC
115 UL Monroe Sun Belt
116 North Texas Sun Belt
117 New Mexico State WAC
118 Florida Atlantic Sun Belt
119 Temple Ind