- Joey Bosa – Ohio State (6-5, 280) Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jr: Very few national Defensive Linemen were more productive than Joey Bosa in 2013 and 2014. Bosa has the strength, the size and the quickness to be a dominating Defensive End and he has been. On the Buckeyes run to a national title in 2014, Bosa was one of many stars for the Buckeyes on both sides of the ball. Bosa finished with 55 total tackles last year with 21 for loss. He also had 13.5
Quarterback sacks and 4 fumbles forced. Bosa hurried the Quarterback 4 more times and broke up a pass before returning a fumble for a Touchdown. Joey’s younger brother is one of the top Defensive recruits in the country. Joey Bosa was something of a JJ Watt type of college player this past season.
- Jarran Reed – Alabama (6-4, 315) Goldsboro, North Carolina. Sr: The East Mississippi Community College transfer outplayed more celebrated teammates last season. Reed was the 7th ranked Junior College Defensive Tackle prospect in the nation and only a 3 star recruit. But, he showed up ready to play. His best game came against the LSU Tigers when he had 15 assisted tackles. Reed had 6.5 tackles for loss and a Quarterback sack. The Alabama rush defense was the 4th ranked unit in the nation and Reed played a large part of that.
- Robert Nkemdiche – Ole Miss (6-4, 280) Loganville, Georgia. Jr: 2015 will be Nkemdiche’s last chance to live up to the unbelievable hype. He was the top rated Defensive Lineman, the top player in his state, and the top rated player in the entire nation in the 2013 class. He was reported to have 4.6 speed at over 265 pounds in high school. He has been impressive at times, bu has not necessarily lived up to what was expected by the entire nation. In 2014, had 35 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 2 Quarterback sacks. He moved from Defensive End to Defensive Tackle this past season so teams could not run away from him. Teams always had to account for his presence. In 2015, my expectations are for Nkemdiche are sky high as he plays for his NFL draft status. He has the size, the speed and the athleticism that the NFL will love, but he needs to have a bit more production this season. Nkemdiche is one of the more impressive looking physical specimens in the college game.
- Shawn Oakman – Baylor (6-9, 285) Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. Sr: A member of the 2011 Penn State recruiting class, he transferred out when the Jerry Sandusky scandal hit. I respect those that stayed at Penn State, but I respect those that left as well and I doubly respect Oakman for coming back for his senior season. Oakman is a specimen at 6-9. He has extremely long arms and is very quick for his size. He had a sack in the Cotton Bowl against Michigan State Left Tackle Jack Conklin and Conklin just does not give up sacks. On the 2014 season, Oakman had 51 total tackles with 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 Quarterback sacks. He had 8 more Quarterback hurries, 3 fumbles forced and 3 passes broken up. Oakman will be highly desired by NFL teams after this season. He seems to be half Oak tree and half man and has a bright future and should be better in NFL than in college.
- A’Shawn Robinson – Alabama (6-4, 320) Fort Worth, Texas. Jr: Robinson was outstanding as a true freshman and was expected to be the top Defensive Lineman in the SEC last season and was not even the best on his own team. But, he was not exactly a disappointment, either. Robinson had 49 total tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. Robinson did not have a single sack, which was a huge letdown since he had 5.5 as a true freshman. Robinson did break up 3 passes, forced a fumble, hurried the Quarterback 4 times and blocked a kick. Robinson will no doubt declare after this season for the NFL and he needs to have a better season than he did in 2014.
- Emmanuel Ogbah – Oklahoma State (6-4, 270) Houston, Texas. Jr: Ogbah had an impressive 2014 season even though the team had something of a disappointing season. Ogbah had 49 total tackles with 17 tackles for loss and 11 Quarterback sacks. Ogbah had another 3 Quarterback hurries, 5 passes broken up and a forced fumble.
- Shilique Calhoun – Michigan State (6-5, 260) Middletown, New Jersey. Sr: After an incredible sophomore season, Calhoun had something of a disappointing junior year and somewhat
surprisingly he announced he was returning for his senior season. Calhoun had 39 total tackles in the 2014 season with 12.5 tackles for loss and 8 Quarterback sacks. Calhoun blocked a kick, hurried the Quarterback 8 times and forced a fumble. His sack numbers were actually up from 2013, but he had quite a few defensive scores in that season and none in 2014 which is why his year was something of a letdown.
- Derek Barnett – Tennessee (6-3, 270) Nashville, Tennessee. Soph: One of the more productive players in the country and as a true freshman terrorized opponents like few others. Barnett finished the season with 72 total tackles with an impressive 20.5 for loss and 10 Quarterback sacks. Barnett had another 8 Quarterback hurries. The Volunteers were a super young team in 2014 and they brought in another outstanding class for 2015. If any of those guys are like Barnett, then look for the Vols to move way up in the SEC East standings.
- Harold Brantley – Missouri (6-3, 290) Hershey, Pennsylvania. Jr: Brantley is the type of talent that James Franklin will keep home in the future. At Missouri, the focus has been on the Defensive Ends and their Quarterback pressures and sacks over the last couple of years. Almost lost in that is the middle of the Missouri defensive line. Brantley is more than good enough for equal recognition to their recent Defensive Ends. He finished his sophomore campaign with 54 total tackles with 7 tackles for loss and 5 Quarterback sacks. He also blocked a kick, hurried the Quarterback 7 more times, and had 3 pass break ups.
- Myles Garrett – Texas A%M (6-5, 255) Arlington, Texas. Soph: Really more of an Outside Linebacker than a Defensive Lineman, it will be interesting to see where new Aggie Defensive Coordinator Chavis plays him next season because I am thinking he moves to Defensive End. Garrett was a terror off the edge last year with 11.5 Quarterback sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Garrett also had 10 Quarterback hurries and 53 total tackles. If Chavis gets the freedom to run his own defense, look for the Aggies to be a much better team in 2015 defensively.
- DeForest Buckner – Oregon (6-7, 290) Waianae, Hawaii. Sr: In a somewhat surprising move, Buckner stayed in school for his senior season. Buckner was far more productive than his
counterpart on the other side of the defensive line in 2014. Arik Armstead will be a high NFL pick because of his size and potential, but Buckner outplayed him all year long and is of similar size. Buckner finished 5th on the team in tackles from his Defensive End position racking up 81 total. Buckner had 13 tackles for loss and 4 Quarterback sacks while hurrying the Quarterbacks another 3 times and breaking up 4 passes. He forced a fumble and also had time to play on special teams and caught a 2 point conversion pass against Michigan State early in the season. Oregon got manhandled by Ohio State on both sides of the ball in the national championship game, but Buckner is solid.
- Anthony Zettel – Penn State (6-4, 275) West Branch, Michigan. Sr: This highly productive player was actually recruited as an Offensive Guard by most, but found his way to defense and was a monster last year. He was even listed as a 4 star Offensive Guard. Penn State finished second in total defense only to Clemson and their defensive front was awesome in 2014. What other defensive lineman across the country had 3 Interceptions in 2014? Zettel even returned one of those for a Touchdown. He totaled 42 tackles, but 17 of those were for losses and he had another 8 Quarterback sacks. Zettel also broke up 5 passes and forced a fumble.
- Kenny Clark – UCLA (6-3, 310) San Bernardino, California. Jr: Clark was a tough guy for the Bruins last season and came up with 42 total tackles. He is not much in the pass rush, but very solid against the run. He did have 5.5 tackles for loss and broke up a pass. Like his sidekick from a year ago, Owamagbe Odighizuwa and good luck saying that name out loud, Kenny Clark just looks impressive. Between Clark his hard to spell and pronounce teammate and Eddie Vanderdoes, the Bruins had a solid defensive front in 2014. I really don’t think the
Defensive Coordinator from last season had a clue what to do with them and the hiring of long time Penn State coach Tom Bradley should help the Bruins immensely this year and that will be needed with the reemergence of USC.
- Kemoko Durray – Rutgers (6-6, 235) Newark, New Jersey. Soph: Durray was a part time player last year as a freshman, but still managed to add 26 total tackles to his resume. In those tackles he had 8.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 Quarterback sacks. I love the size and the quickness and the potential of Durray. The most impressive stat for Durray in his freshman season was 3 blocked kicks. Durray played behind senior David Milewski last season and should move into a starter’s role in 2015 and his production should go way up.
- Adam Gotsis – Georgia Tech (6-5, 285) Abbotsford, Australia. Sr: Gotsis is something of a rarity in that he’s Australian and plays a position other than punter. This big guy can move and his quickness allowed him to finish strong in 2014 and register 36 total tackles. He had 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 Quarterback sacks, a blocked kick, and 3 passes broken up. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were a fun team to watch on both sides of the ball a year ago and they return enough talent like Gotsis and Quarterback Justin Thomas to repeat.
Others that hold my interest:
Dadi Nicolas – Virginia Tech: Good player with 8.5 sacks in 2014. Name is cool, too.
Charles Tapper – Oklahoma: Disappointing year for Tapper and Sooners, but they always bounce.
James McFarland – TCU: 7 sacks for the senior to be on a strong team.
Josh Carraway – TCU: Keep an eye on TCU and their defense.
Fred Presley – East Carolina: Huge guy with 6 sacks a year ago.
Kamalei Correa – Boise State: 12 sacks
Hunter Dimick – Utah: 10 sacks
Michael Wakefield – Florida International: 8 sacks 4 fumbles forced
Ken Ekanem – Virginia Tech: 10.5 sacks in 2014. Problems with Virginia Tech not on defense.
Davon Godchaux – LSU: True freshman last season and very good especially later in season.
Hasson Ridgeway – Texas: Had 6 sacks at 305 pounds. Will be better in 2015.
Delvon Simmons – USC: Nomad who has a chance to shine in 2015.
Bijhon Jackson – Arkansas: Was a highly touted freshman in 2014.
Montravius Adams – Auburn: Can you say Will Muschamp? New DC will help guys like Adams.
Carl Lawson – Auburn: Missed 2014 with knee injury.
Jonathon Allen – Alabama: The other Bama Defensive Lineman.
Marquis Haynes – Ole Miss: Had 7.5 sacks as a freshman.