Who are some of the ten best devy interior defensive linemen for this upcoming season? Which ones could make a play to start on your fantasy squad over the next few years?
So most of us, if not all, know that interior defensive linemen aren’t the hottest of commodities in fantasy football. However, if your league is defensive tackle premium or you start two defensive tackles, then it becomes a priority to find those guys that could be the next Aaron Donald or Ndamukong Suh. Whether you play in a devy league or not, it’s still great to have a leg up on the competition. Let us take a look at some of those guys and see where they sit in college.
Jaylen Twyman, IDL, Pittsburgh
Career Stats: 57 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, and two pass deflections
A top interior defensive linemen from Pittsburgh rings a bell, doesn’t it? While he may be a bit small for the position (6’2″ 290 lbs), he still has room to grow. He red-shirted his freshman year and followed the next year playing in 13 games, starting only one of them. His big game in 2018 was against Clemson, where he finished with four tackles and 0.5 sacks. Twyman’s red-shirt sophomore season is where he broke out. He finished with 10.5 sacks (which was enough for #2 in the ACC), 41 tackles and 12 tackles for a loss while starting all 13 games for the Panthers. He was named a second-team All-American in 2019 as well. His name appears on watch lists such as Outland Trophy, Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik Award for the 2020 season. Twyman is quick off the ball and can get into the zone and make plays in the backfield. He is good with his hands and utilizes an excellent swim-move to get around the offense. He could be one of the first interior defensive linemen off the board in the next draft
Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
Career Stats: 26 tackles, six tackles for a loss, two sacks and two pass deflections
A former 4-star recruit coming out of high school in 2018, Barmore joins an elite group of interior defensive linemen at Alabama. Although he has just one year of games under his belt (only starting one of them), Barmore showed excellent talent in his redshirt freshman year. He has an excellent swim move to get around the offensive linemen and can make plays in the backfield, making him an asset as a run defender. At 6’5″ 310 lbs, Barmore is a powerful man and uses his quick hands to bully the offense. He has room to grow and become even better than he showed in his first full year. Barmore is a starting interior defensive linemen as of today. He can boost his draft stock if he has a good year. The Alabama front seven is excellent as usual, and he should see that opportunity.
Marvin Wilson, IDL, Florida St.
Career Stats: 92 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, five pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery
The big man on campus. Marvin Wilson is a former 5-star recruit and the number six recruit in the country. At 6’4″ 325 lbs, Wilson has the right size for an interior defensive lineman. Wilson has a very high motor and will snag anything that tries to get past him. He will probably be one of the first interior defensive linemen taken in the 2020 NFL draft. He is excellent in run defense and can get his big hand up in the air to knock passes down, which could be an asset in leagues with pass deflections. Wilson could go in the top ten of the draft this next year. His draft capital will have teams taking him higher, as I have seen in two defensive tackle league this year with Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw.
Dante Stills, IDL, West Virginia
Career Stats: 40 tackles, 19.5 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, one pass deflection, and two forced fumbles
Dante Stills, not to get confused with his brother Darius Stills, who is also a defensive lineman for the Mountaineers, is a former four-star recruit coming out of high school. Dante was number two in 2019 with eight sacks in the Big 12 and number six, with 14 tackles for a loss. He has excellent mobility to help dip down under the tackles and make a play in the backfield. Dante is a very versatile player, playing both interior defensive line as well as outside as a defensive end. He is effective in both the passing and run game. Dante can drop back and read the run to make the play for minimal gain. He has the frame to put on a bit more weight and become a force up the middle. However, if he doesn’t put any more weight on, he might be better off as a defensive end.
Tyler Davis, IDL, Clemson
Career Stats: 45 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, two pass deflections, and one fumble recovery
Tyler Davis kind of got lost in the shuffle in 2019. He was a true freshman starting for the defending National Champions and overshadowed by players such as Isaiah Simmons. He was second on the team with 6.5 (only behind Simmons) and third on the team with 10.5 tackles for a loss. Davis was named to the 2020 Outland Trophy watchlist as a top interior lineman. He was a four-star prospect coming out of high school, and the 12th ranked defensive tackle in the country. Davis could gain a few more pounds to his frame, and with his speed, he has as an interior defensive lineman, he will be a problem not only in college but in the NFL as well.
Tyler Shelvin, IDL, LSU
Career Stats: 48 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, two pass deflections
Tyler Shelvin was a four-star recruit in 2017 and was the fourth-ranked defensive tackle in the country. He red-shirted his freshman year and only played in six games as a red-shirt freshman. Shelvin finally got his chance in 2019. He was probably the Tigers’ best defensive lineman in 2019. Although he didn’t haven’t any sacks, he still made a significant impact on the defensive line. Sometimes that doesn’t translate well to the NFL, but once he gets there teams will more than likely attack the young gun, and he will put up the stats. At 6’3″ 346 lbs, he is a stop-gap, and it will be tough for the team to run up the middle on him. This upcoming season will be a significant indicator of how his draft stock will start to look.
Jay Tufele, IDL, USC
Career Stats: 64 tackles, ten tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, one interception, one pass deflection, one fumble recovery
Jay Tufele was another four-star recruit coming out of high school. He was the third-ranked defensive tackle in 2017, and 39th overall in the country. Tufele is a versatile player. He can play both the outside and inside positions. Paired up with another guy in the top 10, whom I will talk about later, USC defensive line could be one of the best in the country. Tufele is all over the ball and will take away running lanes from the offense. He can utilize the outside and grab those defenders as they try to get past. He’s most suited for inside, but if he can get both positions in fantasy, he could be a valuable option, especially with two defensive tackle positions. For 2020, Tufele is on all major awards for defensive players.
Xavier Kelly, IDL, Arkansas
Career Stats: 22 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, one fumble recovery
Xavier Kelly was a four-star ranked defensive end coming out of high school, but jumped to defensive tackle last year while at Clemson. He has excellent versatility so he has the ability to play inside and outside. He was stuck behind some very talented defensive linemen over the past few years and finally decided to transfer to Arkansas, where he should be able to start right away and show his true worth from the start. Kelly, while playing defensive end, was able to cover reasonably well and read plays and get there before the ball did. He has gained some weight since his freshman year, but he can get to the ball carrier and bring him down. Kelly is again, one of those players that would benefit from having dual position eligibility in the NFL.
Drake Jackson, IDL, USC
Career Stats: 46 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, three pass deflections, and one forced fumble
There have been a plethora of true freshman that have made a considerable impact in their first year in school, and Drake Jackson is just another example. Jackson was a four-star prospect coming out of high school last year and registered 46 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He is a natural pass-rusher and can play both outside and inside on the defensive line, which will help his development as he goes through college and onto the NFL. Jackson is more suited for an EDGE role but can play 3-tech in the right system. He has multiple moves in his arsenal to help get himself around the offensive line. Jackson can get his big mitts in the air and knock down passes, and interrupt the quarterback. Like his teammate Jay Tufele, Jackson is on the watch lists for all significant defensive awards
Mustafa Johnson, IDL, Colorado
Career Stats: 80 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and one touchdown
Here is one guy that not a lot of people may know about. He plays for Colorado, and most of their games come at night when nobody seems to want to watch the PAC-12. Nonetheless, Mustafa Johnson could be one of those diamond in the rough guys. He started his freshman year playing at Modesto Junior College. Johnson then transferred to Colorado and played and started all 12 games. In his first year, he earned the team’s most outstanding defensive player with linebacker Nate Landman. At the next level, Johnson has the frame to play the interior defensive line. He could play outside too, but he lacks the speed needed to be a top-notch defensive end.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the article. You can find me on Twitter @ejh1528. Feel free to shoot me any IDP (NFL or Devy) questions you may have. You can also check me out at Dynasty Nerds under IDP and the IDP Devy Podcast, which I co-host under the @DevyIDPGrind podcast. Check out our Devy IDP rankings here.