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Position Preview: Defensive Line

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Stats courtesy of GoPack.com and ESPN

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Every player that started a game last season on the defensive line returns except Mike Rose, who finished up his career in Raleigh with a 2nd team All-ACC honor last year. Defensive end Bradley Chubb and defensive tackle B.J. Hill, both juniors, will be locks to start. While Hill was starting games as a freshman, Chubb made the transition to the defensive line from linebacker after his first year in the program. Both started every game last year at their respective positions and were productive, totaling 120 tackles, 23 for a loss, and 9 sacks between the two of them.

Both Chubb and Hill could end up being All-ACC candidates. Chubb was named to the Bednarik Award watch list and received big time praise from his head coach regarding the kind of player he could be this season:

Dave Doeren raved about DE Bradley Chubb. "We've not had a pass rusher that forced teams to adjust protections, but Chubb can be that guy." Other ACC coaches have agreed, calling Chubb potentially one of the best pass rushers in the league.

-David Hale, ESPN

Junior Kentavius Street, junior Justin Jones, and senior Monty Nelson all started games last year at the other defensive tackle spot. Street had 9, Jones got 3, and Nelson started the bowl game. Street has since moved back to defensive end where he'll be the leader for the starting spot. Nelson has been plagued by injuries and saw only minor action for a lot of last season, but with the injury bug seemingly behind him, more snaps for the senior should be in order. Either Nelson or Jones will assume the starting role, but both should have plenty of opportunities on the field

As stated, Street is back to his original position at defensive end. His skill set is more strength than speed, so he probably won’t be racking up as many sacks as Mike Rose did, but he is very strong. Street’s been a solid player for the Pack, but he hasn’t been the dominant force many thought about when they saw his star rating. I have no idea if he’ll make a big jump this year, but this defensive line could start looking pretty darn good if he does.

Darian Roseboro, who was yet another high profile recruit on the d-line, showed some flashes of what he can do during his freshman season. He played in every game, notching 4 sacks, 5.5 tackles for a loss, and a touchdown reception from a Syracuse quarterback. Those Cuse quarterbacks seem to like throwing touchdown passes to NC State defensive ends. It's not inconceivable that Roseboro could edge out Street for the starting gig, but either way the Pack has a solid third man at defensive end

Defensive end James Smith-Williams played a small amount early last season before getting hurt and receiving a redshirt. He’s tall, long, fast and still growing into his 6’4" frame as he enters his redshirt freshman season. He’s reportedly up over 240 pounds now, which is a fairly significant gain. The fact that Smith-Williams got into games early last season combined with his physical progression would make it seem likely that he’ll get at least a handful of meaningful reps per game this year

State could be even deeper at defensive tackle depending at how much Eurndraus Bryant is able to contribute. Big E, as they call him (emphasis on the big), played well as a freshman in limited action, and his continued weight loss should help him stay on the field at least a little longer. He’s apparently dropped around 20 pounds since his arrival at NC State. I don’t know what weight they want the sophomore playing at, but at around 330, he’s probably still looking to drop some more. Bryant averaged around eight snaps per game last year, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see that number increase this year.

Linemen hoping to get their first game action of their career this season include defensive ends redshirt freshman Tyrone Riley and redshirt sophomore Deonte Holden and defensive tackles Ben "Shug" Frazier and Quentez Johnson, who are true freshman and redshirt freshman respectively. Both Holden and Riley fit the mold of the lengthy defensive end that the Pack prefers, and Holden was well-regarded for his pass rushing abilities coming out of high school. Johnson is large roadblock at DT. He always projected as a little more of a down the road guy, hence the redshirt. Fraizer is a player whose offer list resembles that of a five-star instead of the three stars he was given. He should be a good one when his time comes.

The defensive line will start all upper classmen and the 2-deep will have likely seven of eight guys with at least a year of in-game experience. Running back is probably the only unit you could argue is in better shape than the D-line this season.

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