August 15, 2010

Preseason unit rankings: Defensive linemen

Here is part four of our national unit rankings.

We are unveiling one unit per day and will end Thursday with overall coaching staffs.

The rankings take into account what the players have accomplished, how we think the players will do this season and sheer talent. But production does trump potential.

Here are the defensive line rankings. Next up: linebackers.

DEFENSIVE LINE UNIT RANKINGS

1. IOWA
BUZZ: All four starters are back for a group that produced 202 tackles and 27 sacks last season. The leader is E Adrian Clayborn, a dynamic force off the edge who had 11.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss.

2. NORTH CAROLINA
BUZZ: E Robert Quinn and T Marvin Austin give the Tar Heels two probable first-round picks up front.

3. OLE MISS
BUZZ: This should be a rough-and-ready unit. Former coach Ed Orgeron might have been in over his head at that job, but he certainly could identify defensive line talent and Houston Nutt is the beneficiary. E Kentrell Lockett and T Jerrell Powe have All-SEC capabilities.

4. USC
BUZZ: The ends could be overpowering, and Ts Jurrell Casey and DaJohn Harris have a chance to be as good as any pair anywhere.

5. NEBRASKA
BUZZ: T Jared Crick and E Pierre Allen anchor what should be one of the country's best front fours.

6. TEXAS
BUZZ: Look for Sam Acho and Alex Okafor to lead a pass rush that will be among the nation's fiercest.

7. ALABAMA
BUZZ: All three starters will be new. So what? Alabama rotated a lot of linemen last season, and E Marcell Dareus is the best lineman in the SEC.

8. ARIZONA STATE
BUZZ: It's hard to run on the Sun Devils, who are tough up front with Ts Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola.

9. MIAMI
BUZZ: Nearly every team in the country would love to have the Hurricanes' depth in the front four. The versatile Allen Bailey is an All-America candidate.

10. CLEMSON
BUZZ: Jarvis Jenkins and Brandon Thompson give Clemson a pair of experienced tackles, and Da'Quan Bowers has plenty of upside at end.

11. TCU
BUZZ: The Frogs no longer have the star power of E Jerry Hughes in their front four, but Wayne Daniels, Cory Grant and Co. should make sure TCU continues to harass opposing quarterbacks and running backs.

12. RUTGERS
BUZZ: Three starters are back. The new starter is E Jonathan Freeny, who had 9.5 sacks last season in a reserve role.

DON'T OVERLOOK THESE 5
Boise State, Florida, Oregon, Temple, West Virginia

(Rankings by Rivals.com staffers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee.)



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