Where Does Florida Fit in Modern 'Defensive Line U' Conversation?
As Sports Illustrated continues to roll out it's modernized "Position U" series, the Florida Gators have found themselves ranked in the top ten of another category.
Following a top three finish among schools in the "Offensive Line U" rankings, the Gators have also received love on the opposite side of the trenches. Florida is considered No. 6 on SI's "Defensive Line U" list.
Sports Illustrated has compiled these rankings with a number system comprised of data from over the past ten years, focusing on a defensive linemen's success following their career at their respective school.
It should be noted that Sports Illustrated consider all edge rushers as defensive linemen for this exercise. For example, though Von Miller is listed as an outside linebacker for the Denver Broncos, it is well known that Miller is primarily used as a pass rusher across the line of scrimmage within the Broncos scheme.
Over the past ten years, Florida has seen 13 defensive linemen be selected in the NFL Draft, as follows in descending order: DE Jachai Polite (2019 - third round), DT Taven Bryan (2018 - first round), DT Caleb Brantley (2017 - sixth round), DT Joey Ivie (2017 - seventh round), DE Jonathan Bullard (2016 - third round), DE Alex McCallister (2016 - third round), DE Dante Fowler Jr. (2015 - first round), DT Dominique Easley (2014 - first round), DE Ronald Powell (2014 - fifth round), DT Sharrif Floyd (2013 - first round), DT Jaye Howard (2012 - fourth round), DE Jermaine Cunningham (2010 - second round) and DE Carlos Dunlap (2010 - second round).
The Gators finished with 49 points by Sports Illustrated's grading system, tied for sixth place with Wisconsin. 13 points were generated from Fowler (top 10), Bryan, Easley, and Floyd's first-round draft slots.
While none of these players earned player/rookie of the year honors or found a spot on an All Pro team, Dunlap has been named to two Pro Bowl teams during his 10-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals, including in 2015 when he posted a career-high 13.5 sacks.
Fowler has yet to receive accolades, however, he recently broke the bank on the free agency market by signing a three year, $48 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons. Fowler's career hasn't been consistent as he got off to a rough start in Jacksonville, but he put together an impressive 11.5 sack season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 - which allowed him to cash in.
The question is - who will be next to join the Gators' modern DLU team? Edge rushers Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga should both be selected in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, and it will be interesting to see if their careers pan out better than the majority of the current members of the list.
The final installment of Sports Illustrated's "Position U" series will be unveiled on Monday, discussing the defensive back position. It is to be expected that Florida will have a spot on that list as well.
Below is the entire top 10 of Sports Illustrated's "Defensive Line U" rankings. Do you agree with Florida's place on the list? Let us know in the comments.
1. Alabama, 85 points
2. Clemson, 73
3. Georgia, 65
4. Ohio State, 62
5. LSU, 51
6(tie). Florida, 49
6(tie). Wisconsin, 49
8. USC, 44
9(tie). Mississippi State, 42
9(tie). Pittsburgh, 42