Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Ranking the Pac-10 defensive tackles
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Moving on to defense, this is a strange one.
Guess how many defensive tackles from the 2007 All-Pac-10 First and Second Teams and honorable mentions are back this fall?
That means the No. 1 guy on this list, USC's Fili Moala, didn't get a single vote from conference coaches last year.
Nonetheless, he's expected to be a first-round pick in the 2009 NFL draft. Go figure.
If there is any one position where the Pac-10 is consistently lacking -- and falls way short of the SEC -- it's defensive tackle. That is, of course, outside of USC; think that might be meaningful?
The position doesn't actually get that much respect in the conference. Of the eight defensive linemen honored as First- or Second-Team All-Pac-10, only two -- USC's Sedrick Ellis (duh) and Arizona's Lionel Dotson -- were DTs and not sack-producing DEs.
A lot of that is DEs put up impressive sack stats in a pass-happy conference. But a run-stuffing DT who also can collapse a pocket is a presence that transforms a good defense into a great one.
And most prognosticators don't think the Pac-10 will have a great defense this fall. Other, of course, than said Trojans.
- Fili Moala, Sr., USC: Got to be honest: I thought Moala was just the guy who played beside Sedrick Ellis and Lawrence Jackson in 2007, but he apparently will be a first-round draft pick this spring. In fact, Todd McShay has him going No. 1 overall.
- Ekom Udofia, Jr., Stanford: A touted recruit in 2005, he appears poised for a breakout. The 310-pounder is already appearing on a few 2009 draft lists.
- Brigham Harwell, Sr., UCLA: A knee injury ended his 2007 season, but he's a high-motor guy who's started for three years.
- Brian Price, So. UCLA: Got double-teamed as a true freshman; he's a budding star. Don't be shocked if he ends up First-Team All-Pac-10.
- Averell Spicer, Jr., USC: Starting on USC's DL is, in itself, meaningful. Spicer flashed some play-making ability in 2007 and this past spring. A hard worker with skills.
- Ra'Shon Harris, Sr., Oregon: He's got the size at 6-foot-5, 321 pounds. He just needs to use it more.
- Derrick Hill, So., California: Played well late in 2007, so the former elite recruit should push past Mika Kane on the depth chart and become the noseguard when the Bears use a new 3-4 look.
- David Smith, Sr., Arizona State: A lunch-pail guy who started 13 games in 2007 and made 6.5 tackles for loss.
- Pernnell Booth, Sr., Oregon State: Three tackles for loss last year. If healthy, he's solid.
- Fevaea'i Ahmu, Sr., Washington State: He's experienced but he's battled injuries throughout his career.