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Ranking the 2017 Pac-12 defensive lines: Washington and Utah have best defensive lines

Ranking the 2017 preseason Pac-12 defensive lines from top to bottom

NCAA Football: Idaho at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Backfields

WRs/TEs

Offensive Lines

Offenses

  1. Washington (DT Vita Vea Jr. DT Greg Gaines Jr. DE Jaylon Johnson Jr. DE Benning Potoa’e So. DE Levi Onwuzirike Fr. DE Shane Bowman Jr.)

The 6’5 340-pound Vea is ready to turn into Danny Shelton and a Top 10 draft pick in 2018. Gaines might actually be just as good as Vea and the best run defender in the conference. The rest of the group is experienced and talented.

2. Utah (DE Kylie Fitts Sr. DT Lowell Lotulelei Sr. DT Filipo Mokofisi Sr. DT Alan Havili-Katoa Jr. DE Bradlee Anae So.)

The Utes are still lights out on the defensive line. Lotulelei had a disappointing 2017, but has first-team All-American talent. Fitts is a first-team All-Pac-12 player who missed 2017 due to injury. Mokofisi is the best #3 defensive lineman on this list.

3. USC (DE Porter Gustin Jr. DT Rasheem Green Jr. DT Kenny Bigelow Sr. DT Malik Dorton Jr. DT Jacob Daniel Jr. DT Marlon Tuipulotu Fr.)

This is the conference’s most-talented bunch. Gustin and Green are first round talents and both seem ready to turn into mid-2000s style Trojan defensive line studs. Bigelow could be the key here if he can finally get healthy.

4. Washington State (DE Hercules Mata’afa Jr. DT Daniel Ekuale Sr. DT Garrett McBroom Sr. DE Ngalu Tapa Jr. DE Kingston Fernandez Jr.)

The Cougars have quietly had really good defensive fronts in recent years. Mata’afa is one of the conference’s best pass rushers and Ekuale and standout run stuffer in the middle.

5. Stanford (DT Harrison Phillips Sr. DE Dylan Jackson Jr. DE Eric Cotton Sr. DE Wesley Annan Jr. DT Michael Williams So.)

A healthy Phillips will help this unit stay up this high without Solomon Thomas. The rest of the group are talented big bodies who can excel in Stanford’s physical system.

6. Arizona State (DE JoJo Wicker Jr. DT Tashon Smallwood Sr. DE George Lea So. DT Renell Wren Jr. DE Jalen Bates So.)

This group is better than Arizona State’s 2016 defensive stats suggest. Wicker is great on the edge and an All-Pac-12 player and Smallwood isn’t far behind as a small defensive tackle who can get into the backfield and make plays.

7. Cal - (DT James Looney Sr. DT Tony Mekari Sr. DE Noah Westerfield Sr. DT Chris Palmer Jr.)

This group has slowly come together and Looney is an underrated player with All-Pac-12 potential.

8. Colorado (DE Jase Franke Jr. DE Leo Jackson III Sr. DE Timothy Coleman Sr. DE Michael Mathewes Sr. DE Frank Umu So.)

The Buffs had a mass graduation loss after 2016, but they Mike MacIntyre has done a good job of keeping this unit stocked with talent.

9. UCLA (DE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner Sr. DE Rick Wade So. DT Matt Dickerson Sr. DT Boss Tagaloa So. DE Jaelan Phillips Fr.)

The Bruins lost a ton of talent after 2016, but like many UCLA groups, it is loaded with talent. Phillips is the Pac-12’s best incoming freshman at any position.

10. Oregon (DT Scott Pagano S.r DE Henry Mondeaux Sr. DE Jalen Jenks Jr. DT Gary Baker So. DT Elijah George Sr.)

2016 was a disaster for the Ducks defensive line, but they have potential for a big turnaround in 2017. The key could be Clemson transfer Pagano.

11. Oregon State (DE Baker Pritchard Sr. DT Elu Aydon DT Kalani Vakameilalo Jr. DE Phillip Napoleon Sr. DT Titus Failauga Sr.)

The Beavers have nice size and some experience. This could end up being a pretty good unit.

12. Arizona (DE Parker Zellers Sr. DT Luca Bruno Sr. DE Larry Tharpe Jr. Jr. DE Finton Connolly So. DE Jack Banda Sr.)

The Wildcats aren’t known for this defensive front, but I do like the experience here with seniors like Zellers, Bruno and Banda.