Connect with us


DNow’s 2023 CFB Top Defensive Lineman

The 2023 draft is loaded with big name prospects along the interior defensive line, ranging from Jalen Carter to Calijah Kancey who is skyrocketing up draft boards. With the spotlight being on those prospects, what if I was to tell you that the 2024 defensive line prospects may be even better. Here is my list of defensive lineman to watch out for in the 2023 college football season.

First we have Mike Hall from THE Ohio State University. Hall finished the 2022 season with 19 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. While you may be asking, how is this guy the best returning Interior Defensive Lineman, well the answer is all in the tape. When you watch his tape you see how much of a problem he is for the line, often getting doubled or tripled teams. This allows for his teammates to really take advantage, especially edge J.T. Tuimoloau. While coming in at about 300 pounds Hall has the ability to play with both power and finesse . He has a strong bull rush that is among the best in the country and is his go to move but, when needed he can also bend well and get by you. If Hall can take his game to the next level and show his moves more consistently and become a force inside, I expect him to be a top 15 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

My next gentleman had a shortened season due to injuries but really showed flashes in his freshman year. That player is Maason Smith from LSU. Smith has all the size you want on the defensive line standing 6’5 and weighing 300+ pounds. Smith came in as the number 20 recruit nationally and instantly made an impact as a true freshman, where he played in 7 games and tallied 19 total tackles and including 5 for a loss and 4 sacks. What I really like about Smith is the aggression he plays with. He plays like his hair is on fire but in a controlled sense, which you don’t see from a lot of players. The position and the moves to beat the lineman just look like they come naturally to him. When all is said and done and if healthy, Maason Smith will be a name known nationally (if not already known) and to watch out for in next year’s draft.

The third player on the list I originally hadn’t watched much tape on him but due to my buddy @NinoBrown_T2T, I am officially sold on Leonard Taylor out of Miami. Over the last 2 seasons Taylor has carved out a pretty good role for himself on the defensive line amassing 45 total tackles, 19 for loss, and 5 sacks. What I noticed when watching tape on him is his finishing power. Once he has a hand on you you are going down, it doesn’t matter if it’s only one hand he’ll still take you down. His primary move is a bull rush and he’s very successful at it. What I also like about Taylor every year is that he has taken a step up in his production and if that is the case again this year he could have a massive season and help right the ship down in Miami. 

The next player to look out for is just raw talent and is really a tweener when it comes to position. That player is Korey Freeman out of USC. While his numbers dipped dramatically last season I believe it’s because they kept him at one position. Freeman has the tools to be bounced around on the line, never attacking from the same position. He has the bull rush to get by interior lineman and due to the smaller frame then my previous players on this list he has more bend to his game that allows him to beat tackles on the outside. He also is not a player that needs to put his hands in the ground every play – he can attack from any position in a 2 point stance which also helps him beat blocks. In my opinion if USC makes a move this year back into the CFP defensively it will be on the shoulders of Korey Foreman.

The final player on my list is there solely because of the pedigree of players that this school has pumped out over the last couple years and I believe that this is the next name on the list. That player is Bear Alexander out of Georgia. Alexander came to Georgia as the 50th ranked recruit nationally out of high school powerhouse IMG Academy. Alexander started the season as a reserve lineman but ended up playing in 12 of the 15 games last year. While on the field he was often overshadowed by the likes of Jalen Carter and Nolan smith, he was still able to finish with 9 total tackles and 2 sacks on the season. We were really able to see the potential of Alexander in the National Championship game against TCU where he had 3 QB hurries, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack. His game is still raw but with the help of Coach Smart and his staff I truly believe that Bear Alexander is the next big name defensive player to come from that University and will be a lock as a 1st round draft pick in 2025.

Other names to look out for: Fabian Lovett (Florida State), Tyler Davis (clemson), Damon Payne (Alabama), Jer’Zahn Newton (Illinois), Deone Walker (Kentucky)


Must See

More in Articles