10. Marlon Davidson, Sr. Auburn
The NFL is going to love him very, very soon. The 6-3, 278-pounder is a versatile defender who’ll shine on a loaded Tiger line. Going into his fourth year as a starter, he’s been a steady producer with 127 career tackles, 9.5 sacks, and 17 tackles for loss. He’s outstanding at knocking down passes and blocking kicks, too.
– 2019 Auburn Preview
9. Julian Okwara, Sr. Notre Dame
He might not be the pro prospect fellow end Khalid Kareem is, but the 6-5, 240-pound Okwara is every bit the college player, if not stronger. He’s a better pure pass rusher, coming off a fantastic 38-tackle, eight-sack, 12.5-tackle-for-loss season in a breakthrough year.
– 2019 Notre Dame Preview
8. Jabari Zuniga, Sr. Florida
He might not be a pure pass rusher, but the 6-4, 257-pounder is a tough defender on another strong Gator defensive front. He became stronger against the run and still got behind the line, coming off a 45-tackle, 6.5-sack, 11 tackle-for-loss season.
– 2019 Florida Preview
7. Bradlee Anae, Sr. Utah
The next-level tools are okay, but going into his senior season, he’s going to grow into a bigger whale of a college star. The 6-3, 265-pound pass rusher has the size to be a big part of the always-good Ute defensive front – making 51 stops last season – with 15 sacks over theist two years and 25 tackles for loss.
– 2019 Utah Preview
CFN Preseason Third Team All-America Defensive Ends
6. Nick Coe, Jr. Auburn
There might be other big-time talents getting more attention on the Tiger line – hello, Derrick Brown – but the 6-5, 291-pound Coe is a massive NFL talent who should be in for another outstanding season. A tweener who can play inside or out, he gets into the backfield no matter what, coming up with seven sacks last season, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 27 tackles.
– 2019 Auburn Preview
5. Yetur Gross-Matos, Jr. Penn State
Everything is there to keep growing into one of the nation’s best all-around ends coming off his breakout sophomore season. The 6-5, 265-pound killer behind the line is the second-leading returning defensive lineman in tackles for loss, coming up with 20 last season to go along with eight sacks with 54 tackles.
– 2019 Penn State Preview
CFN Preseason Second Team All-America Defensive Ends
4. Xavier Thomas, Soph. Clemson
NEXT. Very, very, VERY quietly – considering he had a hard time seeing time with an all-time great line in from of him – one of 2018’s super-recruits had a nice first season with 35 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. To nitpick, it would be nice if he was a little taller, but whatever … the 6-2, 260-pounder is about to blow up into something very, very special.
– 2019 Clemson Preview
3. Kenny Willekes, Sr. Michigan State
A special producer on a special defense, the Spartans come back loaded with its main pass rusher returning to help make it all go. The 6-4, 262-pound senior has been a massive factor over the last two seasons with 15.5 sacks and 35 tackles for loss, leading all Power Five defensive linemen with 20.5 tackles for loss last season.
– 2019 Michigan State Preview
CFN Preseason First Team All-America Defensive Ends
2. Chase Young, Jr. Ohio State
The one-time all-everything recruit stepped up when Nick Bosa went down, coming up with a terrific all-star season for the Buckeyes with 33 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. No it’s salary-drive time as the 6-5, 265-pounder has the potential and talent to be a top ten overall draft pick- if he comes out early.
– 2019 Ohio State Preview
1. AJ Epenesa, Jr. Iowa
If Tua Tagovailoa isn’t the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, it’s probably going to be Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. Somewhere overall in the top five mix – and possibly as high as No. 3 – is the 6-5, 280-pound Epenesa if he can keep the momentum going after a massive sophomore season.
Extremely athletic and shockingly quick off the ball for his size, he’s good against the run – he’s an Iowa defensive lineman – and can get to the quarterback, coming up with 10.5 sacks with four forced fumbles. He cranked out 16.5 tackles for loss, too.
– 2019 Iowa Preview