Here we go! Time to work our way through the summer we’re back to our Big 12 position rankings. With these posts we give our opinions on each of the offensive and defensive position groups and rank them from first to worst. We only defend our top three and bottom two in the rankings and while we’re sure to say something that’s out of this world crazy it’s also a great way to get football conversations going. So, enjoy and make sure to sound off with your opinions in the comments section below.
This time around the Heartland Sports writers give their take on the defensive lines across the conference, ranking them from first to worst. Then they are asked to defend their top three and bottom two rankings.
The consensus rankings below come from a points system. A first place selection is worth 10 points, second place is 9 points, and they continue in descending order with tenth place equaling 1 point.
Heartland Sports Consensus Defensive Line Rankings
|1. Oklahoma State||29|
|2. Iowa State||23|
|6. West Virginia||17|
|7. Kansas State||14|
|10. Texas Tech||7|
Unanimity – We’re back to being scattered and not agreeing across the board on any one school (good or bad).
Almost Agreed – We came close to Oklahoma State being a unanimous #2 and Iowa State at #2. I was the hold out there by placing the Cowboys at #2 and the Cyclones all the way down at #6.
All Over The Place – This pretty much describes all of our defensive line rankings. We didn’t agree at all on Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State, West Virginia, or TCU.
Individual Thoughts And Rankings
1. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys are returning one of the best defensive ends in the conference in Brock Martin. He had 41 total tackles last season and 14 of them were tackles for loss. Redshirt senior Sione Asi will be in the trenches leading the way for the Pokes as well.
2. Iowa State – Iowa State will look to Will McDonald IV to lead the way on defense in 2022. He has been a dominant force in the trenches for a couple of seasons now. In the last two seasons he has recorded 71 tackles, including 44 solo tackles, and 26 tackles for loss. Perhaps the most impressive stat is the 7 forced fumbles he has caused. The Cyclones will be just fine up front on defense this season.
3. West Virginia – West Virginia is lucky to have super senior Dante Stills back for one last year. He has recorded 111 total tackles, 74 solo tackles, and 44 tackles for loss during his time with the Mountaineers. Stills will be a difference maker for West Virginia, but they’ll need help from others if they want to be at the top of the defensive line rankings.
8. Kansas State
9. Texas Tech – Texas Tech has a ton of juniors and seniors in their defensive line group. However, they have little to no playing experience. Tyree Wilson is probably the most experienced guy in this group and he only has 59 total career tackles. Defense has never been the Red Raiders strength, but I’m expecting offenses to have their way in the trenches against TTU.
10. Kansas – This one is pretty self explanatory isn’t it? Malcom Lee is arguably the most talented guy on the defensive line for the Jayhawks. However, Kansas is still lacking a ton of talent in the defensive line group.
1. Oklahoma State | As much as the Cowboys lost on the defensive side of the ball, they retain a lot of talent on the defensive line. Tyler Lacy and Brock Martin are incredible edge rushers, Trace Ford is coming back after missing last season to injury, and Colin Oliver is a Preseason All-Big 12 selection. This is where Oklahoma State will shine this season.
2. Iowa State | The Cyclone defense will be anchored once again by Will McDonald IV, who was last season’s Big 12 Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year.
3. Baylor | The reigning Big 12 champs were so good last season because of the way the defense got better every single week. Siaka Ika was a big reason for that, finishing the season with 4 sacks. He will be key to Baylor’s success again this season.
4. Kansas State
5. West Virginia
8. Texas Tech
9. Texas | I know it’s wild to see the Longhorns this low for a defensive category, but hear me out. They were absolutely horrendous at stopping the run last season, and while they very well can and should move up this list as the season goes on, they’re going to have to prove it first.
10. Kansas | The Jayhawks have a really good shot at improving this year in a lot of areas, specifically on defense, which makes sense considering they were awful last season. They return a lot of experience, and who knows, maybe they’ll shock everyone by beating more than just Texas in conference play.
1. Texas | This isn’t going to be a popular pick but the Longhorns are deep with experienced talent. If you count Jett Bush (Jack) then UT is looking at five guys returning with starting experience. There isn’t another defensive line in the conference that has experience like that.
2. Oklahoma State | The Cowboys led the Big 12 in rush defense in 2021 and are returning Brock Martin, Brendon Evers, and Tyler Lacy in 2022. Israel Antwine’s departure to the NFL is the reason why I didn’t have the Pokes at #1.
3. Oklahoma | Here’s my “homer selection”. I just don’t see a way where the Sooners aren’t in the Top half of the conference despite the losses of Perrion Winfrey and Isaiah Thomas to the NFL. I believe that Isaiah Coe is a star in the making and Josh Ellison is going to be in the conversation for the All Conference team. The upside of Ethan Downs is off the charts as well. Yes, there are some questions here but, in my opinion, there’s more talent then there are questions.
6. Iowa State
7. Kansas State
8. West Virginia
9. Texas Tech | The Red Raiders allowed opponents to average 4.3 yards per carry last season and then lost Devin Drew to the transfer portal. The return of Tyree Wilson and Jaylon Hutchings give Tech hope but they’re definitely going to need to climb the ladder.
10. TCU | The Horned Frogs were 9th in the Big 12 against the run last season. They allowed opponents an average of 5.8 yards per carry which was only beaten by Kansas’ 6.1 yards per carry as the worst in the conference.
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