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The 2019 Big Ten Position Breakdowns: Defensive Ends

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What terrormonsters will be wreaking havoc in a backfield near you?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Illinois
Bosa who?
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

This morning Dead Read did an excellent job detailing the hog mollies tasked with holding dominating the line of scrimmage.

I’m here to tell you about what gives those guys nightmares. Big, fast, strong freaks coming around the edge to completely blowup the play.

Tier 1: The Incredible A.J. Epenesa, Iowa Hawkeyes

Yes, he’s in a tier by himself, without having started a single game for Iowa. Last year he played about half the defensive snaps for Iowa and still led the conference in sacks. In a span of 2 minutes of game time against Illinois, Epenesa forced a fumble, recovered it and returned it for a touchdown; sacked AJ Bush; and blocked a punt (that was also returned for a touchdown by Nick Niemann). All caveats about Illinois, included, there’s not another defensive player that’s touching that.

Tier 2: Your typically great

Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State Nittany Lions
Kenny Willekes, Michigan State Spartans
Carter Coughlin, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Chase Young, Ohio State Buckeyes
Joe Gaziano, Northwestern Wildcats
Bobby Roundtree, Illinois Fighting Illini

Every year, the Big Ten is replete with incredible defensive ends. Everyone of these guys has a strong case for 2nd best defensive end in the conference. Willekes led the conference in tackles for loss. Young and Coughlin were just behind Epenesa in sacks. Gaziano and Gross Matos were both dominant at times. And Bobby Roundtree got 8 freaking sacks for Illinois! With how bad the rest of that defense was, that is an absolutely incredible individual performance.

Thump: How good is bobby roundtree? Well, he’s so fucking good that i was able to call him a positive of last year’s defense. Literally the only player with that distinction, which is even more impressive considering that everyone recognized this and just ran to the other side.

Andrew Kraeaeoifnacsdapowieraz;asldkfpouiwer;aldaf0-891423lkjasdnfski: Kenny Willekes should make the 1st team discussion at DE interesting, especially considering he’s got a great tandem of tackles next to him. However, he’s coming off a broken leg in the bowl, though he was walking around just fine at the spring game. It would really help if someone else showed some pass rush punch though; Jacub Panasiuk has to this point generally been more of a run-stopper, and if the spring game is any indication (it probably isn’t), Brandon Bouyer-Randle is going back to more of a traditional linebacker role. Finding youth and depth here is probably the biggest question facing this defense this offseason.

MNW: Joe Gaziano is the damn truth. he’s a high-motor guy in the style of Dean Lowry (at least that’s who he reminds me of--actual DE-knowers can tell me to fuck off), able to generate some pass rush even in the absence of a strong pass defense. (See his still-wonderful murder of Brian Lewerke from 2016.)

Tier 5: Overshadowed, but solid

Chauncey Golston, Iowa Hawkeyes
Alex Miller, Northwestern Wildcats
Khalil Davis, Nebraska Cornhuskers

All these guys had good seasons last year, and are prepared for a bigger role for 2019.

Tier 4: Young, but you should know who they are

George Karlaftis, Purdue Boilermakers

Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan Wolverines

Kwity Paye, Michigan Wolverines

All highly rated recruits on teams that will desperately need to fill holes at the position.

Tier 5: Everyone else

Don’t see your favorite team or player? Well, that’s likely because they’re not very good.

Beez: Wisconsin had endless DE injuries last season and got zero backfield pressure from the converted OL and third string guys they had to play. Garrett Rand and Isaiah Loudermilk will both be healthy and much better than the guys they had to run out there last year, but Olive Sagapolu is gone and he was crucial to the line.

DJ: Both of ours graduated and I’m not even sure who is starting yet, so nah

Candy: I honestly do not recognize a single person listed as a D-lineman on our roster page right now, so......

Poll

Who’s the 2nd best DE in the conference?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Yetur Gross Matos
    (56 votes)
  • 12%
    Kenny Willekes
    (48 votes)
  • 11%
    Carter Coughlin
    (43 votes)
  • 5%
    Chase Young
    (20 votes)
  • 52%
    Joe Gaziano
    (198 votes)
  • 3%
    Bobby Roundtree
    (15 votes)
380 votes total Vote Now