Charlie’s College Football Rankings: Defensive Lineman

College Football Rankings Defensive Linemen

As we get into July, the college football season is just one month away. As we continue to move along with our rankings, this week we flip to the other side of the ball and talk defense. The defensive line talent in college football this year is insane. There are star players all over the country, and several (if not all) of these players will be selected in the first couple rounds of the NFL Draft when their time comes. 

Be sure to check out all of Charlie’s College Football Rankings.

1. Kayvon Thibodeaux– Oregon

Thibodeaux might not just be the best defensive lineman in college football, but he might be the best overall player. He’s an absolute freak athlete who explodes out of his edge spot and dominates on passing downs. Thibodeaux only racked up three sacks last year but had a host of pressures to his name. He also put up nine sacks in his true freshman season in 2019 and has the real makings of a star in the sport. Once Thibodeaux puts it all together like he should this year, he should dominate opposing offensive tackles week in and week out. 

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2. George Karlaftis– Purdue

This one is a bit of a curveball. The Purdue football program isn’t well known for having stars in the sport in recent memory (aside from Rondale Moore), but Karlaftis is certainly a great player. Karlaftis barely played last year due to injuries and COVID-19, but he’s very well prepared after impressing in his limited sophomore season, as well as his true freshman campaign.

More of a power rusher who sets the edge nicely for the Boilermakers, make no mistake, Karlaftis can also stuff the stat sheet. On three separate games throughout his career, Karlaftis has had multi-sack performances and will look to continue this into his junior year as the leader of the Purdue defense. 

3. Nik Bonitto– Oklahoma

It’s a rare sight to see an Oklahoma defensive player being listed so high, but Bonitto deserves this ranking and then some. He has probably been the most consistent player so far on this list, and he really broke out on the national stage last year. In a condensed season, he put up 8.5 sacks for the Sooners and had two performances with multiple sacks. In a revamped Oklahoma defense, Bonitto will be the heart and soul of this unit and should continue to dominate the Big-12. 

4. Bryan Bresee– Clemson

The former No. 1 overall recruit enjoyed a very successful freshman campaign at Clemson. Bresee had four sacks in rotational action with the Tigers. In 2021, he steps into the starting role, looking to break out in a big way. Bresee can set up all over the line and is a real pass-rushing threat. If he can back up his first-year production in 2021, he’ll be a superstar in college football for years to come.

5. Demarvin Leal– Texas A&M

Leal is a true do-it-all lineman. He got snaps at both defensive tackle and edge last year for the Aggies and excelled in each. In his two-year career, he’s racked up 4.5 sacks and has dominated against the run game. Leal isn’t really going to wow you with his numbers, but he is going to make a name for himself around NFL Draft circles, as well as with true diehard fans of the game. It will be exciting to see how Texas A&M uses this ultra-talented player next season.

6. Aidan Hutchinson– Michigan

The duo of Hutchinson and Kwity Paye was expected to be one of the best edge duos in the nation last year until Hutchinson fractured his leg in the second game of the season. Now, he takes over Paye’s star role on the defensive line with some pretty big shoes to fill. He’s a consistent edge setter in the run game and will look to ramp up his attack against the passing game.

Something else that Hutchison does really well is disrupt passing lanes. He had six deflections in his one full season with the Wolverines, an impressive feat for any edge rusher. This season, Hutchinson will look to establish himself as the guy for a Michigan defense that struggled to generate pressure last year. If he can do that, then he will surely assert himself as a first-round talent in the draft. 

7. Will Anderson Jr.– Alabama

A true 3-4 edge rusher, Anderson thrived in his freshman year. He had seven sacks, good enough to rank 19th in the nation. This number alone was impressive but he did so while playing aside Alabama stars such as Christian Barmore who had eight sacks and was a second-round pick in this year’s draft. Overall, while Anderson is still young, he has a seriously bright future ahead of him, and he will certainly summit this list come next year. 

8. Haskell Garrett– Ohio State

Coming out of the defensive tackle spot, Garrett played alongside fourth-rounder Tommy Togiai last year at Ohio State. With only two sacks in 2020, you can tell Garrett isn’t one to fill up the stat sheet, but he embraces his role in the tackle hole. As the focus in the middle of the Buckeye line, Garrett will need to step up his pass-rush production, while continuing to stuff the holes in the run game. If he can do so then he will establish himself as one of the best tackles in the entire country.

9. Jordan Davis– Georgia

Another defensive tackle who does not put up the big-time numbers, Davis has been a consistent player in Kirby Smart‘s defense. He put up similar numbers all three years he’s played at Georgia, and has improved his technique, enabling him to disrupt several plays. The big talking point on Davis, however, is his size. He’s 6’6″ and 320 pounds. He’s an absolute mammoth in the trenches and has given coordinators some serious headaches trying to contain him. 

10. Myles Murphy– Clemson

As if Clemson didn’t have enough young talent, here comes Murphy. In his freshman year, he put up comparable numbers to Bresee, but is just a tad less versatile with less raw talent. However, he is still an excellent football player.

Murphy worked his way into the backfield for four sacks last season and forced three fumbles. This placed him tied for sixth in the nation for forced fumbles, and it’s a number he’ll look to improve on next year. With both Bresee and Murphy coming into their sophomore season with some real experience, this Clemson defense will be a thrilling sight to watch.

Honorable Mentions

Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati), Drake Jackson (USC), Zach Harrison (Ohio State), Will McDonald IV (Iowa State), Xavier Thomas (Clemson)

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Embed from Getty Images

Check us out on our socials:   
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
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