Here is the second and last part of the NCAAF Dream Team series. Let’s take a look at the best players in the defensive side of the ball. (First Part Here)
Note: In this depth chart, the positions covered will be: 2 DT: 2 DE: 3 LB : 2 CB: 2 S
NCAA Football Dream Team Defense
DT/DE Leonard Williams, USC: Leonard Williams is a versatile and disruptive DT/DE of the USC Trojans. Already projected to be a top 5 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the 6’5 290 pound beast will hope to build off of a season in which he racked up 5 sacks and 12.5 TFL. He was an Associated Press third-team All-American, despite suffering from a shoulder injury that he said kept him at only “65 to 70 percent” all season. Offensive lineman will want to quit if he is at 100 percent.
DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State: An effective penetrator, Bennett has good quickness and initial get-off. Even as a DT having to face double teams every play, the Buckeye still managed to chase down the quarterback 7 times in 2013. No one saw this coming as Bennett was at the spot with expectations being to free up players like Ryan Shazier to get into the backfield. Well, Bennett can get in the backfield on his own, which makes him one of the most dominant players along the defensive line anywhere in college football.
Honorable Mention: Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DE Cedric Reed, Texas: At 6’6, Cedric Reed of the Texas Longhorns is one of the tallest defensive ends in college football. Reed broke through last season with 10 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. Although he doesn’t possess that kind of quickness that Dion Jordan has, he holds up very well at the point of attack and can create separation with his long arms. Many people will question if Reed is even a top five defensive end, but his potential ceiling is endless which will end up surprising fans in 2014.
DE Vic Beasley, Clemson: Vic Beasley of the Clemson Tigers may be the most electrifying pass rusher this upcoming season. As a pure edge rusher, the First Team All-American is very fast and explosive off of the ball. He can be pushed around against the run, but his athleticism is hard to match. Leading the team in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (28.5), Beasley is what you call a “difference maker.” Watch out Aldon Smith.
Honorable Mention: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
LB/RB Myles Jack, UCLA: Myles Jack may be the most advertised defensive player this off-season. He reminds fans of a defensive Johnny Manziel. Jack, like Manziel, exceeded expectations his freshman year, and now in his sophomore season, Jack has the makings of one of the most dominant defenders in the game. Specializing in stopping the run, the UCLA Bruin had 77 tackles with 2 INT and 1 FF. Jack also plays some RB, but UCLA knows that his future is on defense.
LB/DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska: Randy Gregory of the Nebraska Huskies is considered a DE by some, OLB by others. At either position, Gregory was an obvious choice for the NCAAF Defensive Dream Team. Gregory was a dominant pass rusher from his spot, leading the conference in sacks (10.5) and ranking among the league leaders in tackles for loss (19). The National Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year returns in 2014 to anchor the Nebraska defensive front and is expected to contend for some of the highest conference and national honors.
LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma: Standing at 6’0 and weighing in at 220 pounds, Eric Stirker is not very big. He will not scare offensive tackles with his physical attributes, but his play on the field surely will. Striker is a quick and relentless outside linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners. It was only his sophomore season and he has just started to adjust to the college atmosphere, so he should come back this season as a better football player. His stats do not seem “Dream Team Worthy” (6.5 sacks), but Striker often finds himself pressuring the quarterback every passing play. A nuclear bomb waiting to explode is what Eric Striker is, which is why he is on this list.
Honorable Mention: Steve Edmond, Texas/ Denzel Perryman, Miami
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon: Ifo Ekpre-Olumu of the Oregon Ducks leads a team that is one of the best this upcoming season. It is hard to grade cornerbacks because most of them specialize in one category. Not Olumu. He can do it all. From man-to-man coverage, zone coverage, run defense, and even rushing the passer, Olumu is an all-around corner.
CB P.J. Williams, FSU: The 2014 BCS Championship MVP has learned from some of the best in CFB. Terrence Brooks, Lamarcus Joyner, and Xavier Rhodes are some of the cornerbacks that has played with Williams. Here is what Mel Kiper Jr, arguably the most respected sports analyst in football, had to say: “Outstanding instincts. The thing that jumps out to me first about Williams is how quickly he diagnoses and attacks the play in front of him, whether it’s a receiver with a ball in his hands after a short catch, or a running back in the flat.”
Honorable Mention: Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
S Chris Hackett, TCU: With Jason Verrett leaving the TCU Horned Frogs due to the draft, Chris Hackett will try to stitch together a secondary that was one of the best last season. If you watch TCU games, you will often find number one where the ball is. Hackett had 88 tackles, the second most on the team.
S Landon Collins, Alabama: When will a member of the Crimson Tide show up? When will a player from one of the best, if not the best, organization in college football be on this “NCAAF Dream Team?” Here is Landon Collins of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Collins is physical, and his best football is played against the run. He has sure tackling skills, and also played with a man named Ha Ha Clinton Dix, who was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Collins may be pound for pound the best defender in college football.
For more on sports injuries, check out our friends at Sports Injury Alert.
Football fans…check out our two partnered NFL podcasts – Thursday Night Tailgate Radio and Overtime Ireland. Both shows bring you interesting commentary, critical analysis and fantastic guests including former and current NFL players, coaches and personalities.