Jack Follman’s 2022 Pac-12 DL Unit Ranking
Posted on June 19, 2022
The Pac-12 has a really nice group of defensive linemen who are burgeoning stars coming into 2022.
I think it’s going to be really hard to pick All-Pac-12 teams at the end of the season as upfront defenders rack up sacks, TFLs, and hold back the run.
The group definitely falls off a cliff after the first handful of units though.
Let’s try ranking these units going into the first game…
The Ducks have an elite combo at DT with Brandon Dorlus and Popo Aumavae. They were huge in getting the Duck defense to step up in 2021.
Finding a way to replace Kayvon Thibodeaux on the edge will be a challenge, but the Ducks played well even when he was injured in 2021.
The Utes lose big pieces here but they have two of the Conference’s best young stars in DT Junior Tafuna and DE Van Fillinger.
They’ve been one of the best programs in the nation under Kyle Whittingham in developing defensive line talent so I have faith they will have other players step up big time.
3. Washington State
The Pac-12’s best edge combo is WSU’s Ron Stone Jr. and Brennan Jackson—they’ll be terrorizing opposing QBs all season. The Cougs should be solid at DT as well.
Like so many of UW’s units, this one is hard to assess because there’s talent and experience here; it just didn’t play well in 2021.
I count Zion Tupuola-Fetui as a DE and if healthy and in 2020 form, he can be the Pac-12’s best DE. The interior has proven players who need to return to previous form and develop as well.
This is all about breakout star Tuli Tuipulotu, who is in the argument for the best defensive end in the Conference. Getting Nick Figueroa back is big too, but the interior needs to step up in 2022.
Keep an eye on this group. Kyon Barrs is already an All-Pac-12-level player and great at making plays in the backfield. The Cats also have some nice talent and transfers coming in.
There are some good pieces here with DT Jalen Sami being a borderline All-Conference guy already and DE Terrance Lang, a guy who has flashed that potential in the past.
8. Oregon State
The Beavers have come a long way on defense under Jonathan Smith. This group isn’t flashy, but has some nice experience with Isaac Hodgins and Simon Sandberg.
North Texas edge transfer twins Gabriel and Grayson Murphy will really help here but, like so many, the Bruins have a ton of retooling they need to do on the front of their defense.
The Bears are a giant question mark on the defensive line.
The most burning question is if Brett Johnson can finally be healthy. He has the potential to be the best defensive lineman in the Conference if he can be.
11. Arizona State
The Sun Devils lost a ton to graduation and the portal. Miami transfer Nesta Jade Silvera should help at defensive tackle.
There’s talent here. The Cardinal were just shockingly bad at stopping the run in 2021.
—More from Jack Follman—
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