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Top 2018 Pac-12 defensive linemen: Washington’s Greg Gaines ready to take center stage

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Counting down the Pac-12’s best defensive linemen coming into 2018

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

  1. Greg Gaines Sr. DT Washington - Gaines has been a rock for the Huskies for years now and will step into the spotlight this year with Vita Vea off to the NFL. He’s 320 plus of nasty and the conference’s best run defender.
  2. Porter Gustin Sr. DE USC - Probably the conference’s best pass rusher when healthy Gustin has first round size, athleticism, and skills. He’s a player offenses have to game plan around who can drive tackles crazy.
  3. Jalen Jelks Sr. DE Oregon - The 6’6 Jelks is deadly in the backfield in run and pass defense. He’s a versatile athlete who’s scary to line up against with an NFL body.
  4. Christian Rector Jr. DE USC - Rector broke out as a sophomore, helping fill the void left by the injured Gustin. He had 11.5 TFLs and 7.5 sacks in 2017.
  5. Jaelan Phillips So. DE UCLA - The 6’5 260 beat only scratched the surface of what he could do as a true freshman. He’s probably the most-talented defensive lineman in the conference and could have an All-American season in 2018.
  6. Kylan Wilborn So. DE Arizona - Wilborn was a terror on the edge for the Wildcats down the stretch in 2017. He could be the best defensive lineman they’ve had in a long time if he keeps progressing.
  7. Jaylen Johnson Sr. DT Washington - Johnson has been in the shadows of Vea and Gaines, but he’s a fantastic run defender and should be dominant in a more-consistent role in 2018.
  8. Brandon Pili So. DT USC - The 6’4 320 rock made honorable mention All-Pac-12 as a true freshman. He could be the best run stuff the Trojans have had in quite a while.
  9. Bradlee Anae Jr. DE Utah - Anae had a huge year coming off the edge in 2017, finishing with 10 TFLs and seven sacks. Both those numbers should go up in 2018.
  10. Benning Potoa’e Jr. DE Washington - A strong edge layer, Potoa’e has been a standout for the Huskies the past two years during their run. He could turn into an All-Pac-12 player in 2018 if he keeps progressing.
  11. Jordon Scott So. DT Oregon - One of the largest players in the conference, the 6’1 335 Scott helped the Ducks patch up their run stopping in 2017. He’s a classic nose tackle and rock in the middle of Oregon’s defense.

12. Leki Fotu Jr. DT Utah - The Utes just keep producing big, dominant defensive linemen. Fotu is their next great defensive tackle. A force at 6’5 325.