Pac-12 2014 unit rankings - Defensive Line: UCLA, Stanford and Washington strong up front

Harry How

UCLA, Stanford and Washington have loaded defensive fronts.

1. UCLA (DT Ellis McCarthy, DE Eddie Vanderdoes, DT Kenny Clark, DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE Kylie Fitts)

The Bruins have quickly become fearsome up front, loading up on defensive line talent in their past few recruiting classes and it is really starting to pay off. McCarthy is a 6'5 330 monster, Vanderdoes is one of the most athletic defensive ends in the conference at 300 plus, Clark is an emerging standout and senior Odighizuwa is back from injury and ready to be a solid force.

2. Stanford (DE Henry Anderson, DT David Parry, DE Blake Leuders, DT Anthony Hayes, DT Nate Lohn)

The Cardinal lost veteran leader Ben Gardner, but they are still loaded up front. Anderson is nearly 300 pounds, but has the athleticism to play defensive end, Parry is maybe the toughest player in the conference that can hold down the middle of the defense and Leuders is an experienced veteran who is ready for an expanded role.

3. Washington (DE Hau'oli Kikaha, DT Danny Shelton, DE Andrew Hudson, DT Evan Hudson, DE Josh Shirley)

It has been a long, long time since Washington has been as strong as this up front on defense. Kikaha and Shelton are both first-team All-Pac-12 players and they are surrounded by solid experience that is loaded with talent and starts.

4. USC (DE Leonard Williams, DT Antwaun Woods, DE Delvon Simmons, DT Cody Temple, DT Kenny Bigelow, DT Claude Pelon)

As the best defensive lineman in the country, Williams puts the Trojans high in the rankings by himself, but he is also surrounded by young talent. Woods is an emerging star as a plugging defensive tackles, Bigelow has as much potential as any young defensive lineman in the conference, Simmons is a Texas Tech transfer who will contribute immediately and Pelon is a talented incoming JC transfer who could contribute right away.

5. Oregon (DE Tony Washington, DE DeForest Buckner, DT Alex Balducci, DE Arik Armstead, DT Sam Kamp, DE Tui Talia)

A big drop off here and the Ducks lost their three top defensive tackles from 2013, but they still has some great talent and experience, especially in pass rushing specialist Washington. Washington will be one of the best sack masters in the conference in 2013, but he is not alone as Buckner is an experience presence on the edge, Armstead is one of the most physically impressive players in the conference and Balducci and Kamp are poised to step into bigger roles in the middle.

6. Washington State (DE Xavier Cooper, DE Toni Pole, DE Destiny Vaeao, DT Darryl Paulo, DT Robert Barber)

The Cougars' defensive front is turning into a solid unit under excellent assistant coach Joe Salave'a. Cooper is a super quick defensive lineman that can get into the backfield and Paulo, Pole and Vaeao are big athletes with a lot of experience.

7. Arizona State (DT Jaxon Hood, DE Marcus Hardison, DT Mo Latu, DE Darrius Caldwell, DT Dalvon Stuckey, DE Sean O'Grady)

The Sun Devils had a mass exodus of talented defensive linemen after 2013 due to graduation, but they still have some talent up front. Hood is one of the best linemen in the conference and will try to replicate Will Sutton and Hardison is a talented former-JC transfer who is ready to also become a versatile defensive lineman that can get into the backfield and stop the run.

8. Utah (DE Nate Orchard, DT Sese Ianu, DE Hunter Dimmick, DT Sam Tevi, DE Pasoni Tasini, DT Viliseni Fauonuku)

Trevor Reilly is gone, but Orchard is a worthy replacement who has great size and All-Pac-12 potential. The rest of the gang has some experience, but hasn't proven too much.

9. Arizona (DE Reggie Gilbert, DE Jordan Allen, DT Dan Pettinato, DT Kirifi Taula, DE Kyle Kelley, DE Jerod Cody, DT Jeff Worthy)

A somewhat experienced, but not highly-regarded group, the front of the Arizona defense has been questioned for quite a while now There are some pieces here, but until the Wildcats start improving their run defense and pass rushing, their defensive linemen won't be highly-regarded. LSU transfer Allen could immediately become the best player in the unit.

10. Oregon State (DE Dylan Wynn, DT Edwin Delva, DT Siale Hautau, DE Lavonte Barnett, DT Brandon Bennett-Jackson, DT Jalen Grimble, DT Kyle Peko, DE Jaswha James)

The Beavers weren't doing that well up front even with second-round draft pick Scott Crichton and now he is off to the NFL, leaving the Beavers with a collection of players who didn't play well in 2013. The good news for the Beavers is that Wynn is an underrated talent, Mike Riley has a history of turning less-talented units into solid ones and they have some strong transfers coming in that can make a defense, particularly Miami transfer Jalen Grimble.

11. Cal (DE Puka Lopa, DT Jacobi Hunter, DE Kyle Kragen, DE Antione Davis, DT Trevor Kelly, DE Jonathan Johnson, DT Mustafa Jalil, DT Harrison Wilfey, DE Brennan Scarlett)

The Bears were atrocious on the defensive line in 2013 and they lost massive starters at defensive tackle in DeAndre Coleman and Viliami Moala. Even though there is barely any experience here, the good thing for the Bears is that they get a mostly fresh group that shouldn't dwell on the misery of last season and is deep.

12. Colorado (DE Juda Parker, DT Josh Tupou, DT Justin Solis, DE Samson Kafovalu, DT Tyler Henington, DE Jimmie Gilbert)

This might be the unit where Mike MacIntyre needs to do the most work. There is experience here, but it is poorly-performing experience that needs to step up if the Buffaloes are going to put together a better defense in 2014.

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