Defensive Line

Atlanta Firebirds

Christo Bilukidi – 6aa

Da’Quan Bowers – 7aaic

Ray Drew – 6a

Kwame Geathers – 6a

Alex Hall – 8c

Marcus Howard – 7f

Grady Jarrett – 7aa

Khalif Mitchell – 7d

Kelcy Quarles – 6aa

Donte Paige-Moss – 7a

Ethan Westbrooks – 7a

Projected Starters 
DE: Alex Hall
DT: Grady Jarrett
DT: Marcus Howard
DT: Da’Quan Bowers

Summary: Atlanta’s defensive line has been disappointing since Everson Griffin left for the NFL. Alex Hall is the team’s most talented defensive lineman that has shown flashes, but finished last season with just one sack. In an effort to upgrade the line, Atlanta brought in NFL burn out Da’Quan Bowers. Bowers was highly touted coming out of college, but the production never came during his time in the NFL. If he can finally put it together and get the potential to match on field production the Firebirds might have finally found another quality end to pair with Hall. The interior line still looks to be average, but rookie Grady Jarrett has looked impressive in camp and is someone to keep an eye on as a potential star. Expect the Firebirds to have an average defensive line again in 2016.

Charleston Dragons

Joe Kruger – 6a

Daniel McCullers – 6aa

Louis Nix III – 6aa

David Parry – 8a

Bobby Richardson – 7aa

DeShawn Williams – 6a

Billy Winn – 8

Ziggy Hood – 8c

Phil Taylor – 8ci

Projected Starters
DE: Ziggy Hood
NG: David Parry
DE: Billy Winn

Summary: Owner Colin Durina brings his preference for the 3-4 to Charleston and has put together a good front three with depth. Playing the five techniques the Dragons will have Billy Winn bringing his talents from Columbus and fading NFL first round pick Ziggy Hood. If Hood continues struggling the Dragons have a quality replacement in Bobby Richardson who looks to be the third rotational end. At nose guard rookie David Parry looks to be a quality anchor with the power and leverage need to run an odd front. Phil Taylor comes to Charleston struggling with injuries the past couple of years and provides an experienced rotational player at the nose.

Columbus Explorers 

Beau Allen – 7aa

Michael Bennett – 7a

Quinton Dial – 8a

Ishmaa’ily Kitchen – 8c

Markus Kuhn – 7aa

Everett Dawkins – 6a

Daryl Waud – 6a

Rory Connop – 6a

Projected Starters
DE: Quinton Dial
NG: Ishmaa’ily Kitchen
DE: Markus Kuhn

Summary: Columbus lost Billy Winn to Charleston this offseason, but have a great replacement in Quinton Dial who had five tackles for a loss last year. Ishmaa’ily Kitchen no longer looks like the force he once was and could see more of this snaps go to up-and-comer Beau Allen as the season progresses. Markhus Kuhn will be the other end and has potential to become a quality starter for the Explorers. Territorial draft pick Michael Bennett looks most suited for a 4-3 defensive tackle, but will be used at defensive end with the lack of quality depth.

Dallas Six-Shooters

Alex Bazzie – 7aa

Davon Coleman – 6aa

Rashaad Duncan – 7c

Chucky Hunter – 6a

Willie Jefferson – 8a

Stansly Maponga – 6aa

Ryan Russell – 6aa

Jason Stewart – 8

Adham Talaat – 6

Projected Starters
DE: Alex Bazzie
DT: Rashaad Duncan
DT: Jason Stewart
DE: Willie Jefferson

Summary: Dallas was absent media lightning rod Michael Sam after deciding to walk away from football during last season. Despite losing the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, management is happy about the development of second year defensive end Alex Bazzie who picked up five sacks in his rookie year. Opposite of him is Willie Jefferson, who had a very surprising 2015 season with 66 tackles (13 for a loss) and eight sacks. Inside, Dallas has a couple of solid starters in Rashaad Duncan and Jason Stewart, who combined for eight sacks. Youngsters Davon Coleman and Ryan Russell have potential but have yet to show any signs of being productive players this year.

Los Angeles Stars

Marvin Austin – 7a

Brandon Deaderick – 8D

Caraun Reid – 7a

Greg Scruggs – 7a

George Uko – 6a

Jamaal Westerman – 8aa

Odell Willis – 8

Projected Starters
DE: Jamaal Westerman
DT: Brandon Deaderick
DT: Marvin Austin
DE: Odell Willis

Summary: After spending big money on the defensive line, L.A. was disappointed with Mark Anderson’s five sack total and released him midway through training camp. Odell Willis returns at one of the end spots and will look to rebound from his two sack season and Jamaal Westerman was an excellent acquisition from the CFL and looks to make the impact that Anderson was unable to. Brandon Deaderick was excellent at rushing the passer with eight sacks and 18 hurries, but offered little in the run game and the Stars will look for big body Marvin Austin to anchor the middle. Look for Caraun Reid and Greg Scruggs to rotate with Deadrick during short yardage downs to help solidify the run defense.

Michigan Stags 

Michael Alan Cash – 7a

Darius Kilgo – 6aa

Ted Laurent – 8a

Kyle Love – 8a

Eric Norwood – 8a

Earl Okine – 7a

Tristan Okpalaugo – 8a

LaKendrick Ross – 6aa

Khreem Smith – 8

Za’Darius Smith – 7aa

Eddie Steele – 7

Bryant Turner Jr. – 7

Cornelius Washington – 6aa

Martez Wilson – 7c

Projected Starters
DE: Eric Norwood
DT: Ted Laurent
DT: Kyle Love
DE: Tristan Okpalaugo

Summary: The Stags only picked up 26 sacks all of last season and are hoping some new faces and year two will provide greater cohesion for the front line. The versatile Eric Norwood returns at right end after leading the league with 21 hurries and will hope that the addition of Tristan Okpalaugo will help create more opportunities for sacks. At the interior Ted Laurent returns after a solid season and wide body Kyle Love looks to have a good comeback year after ending up on injured reserve with a back injury last season. The Stags also possess very good depth with last year’s starter Khreem Smith as a rotational end, rookie Za’Darius Smith looking like a starter in waiting, and multiple players to rotate at the interior.

Minnesota Freeze 

Adam Carriker – 7

Mike Catapano – 7a

Glenn Foster – 7c

Damon Harrison – 8aa

David Irving – 6aa

Stacy McGee – 7aa

Shamar Stephen – 7a

Projected Starters
DE: Glenn Foster
DT: Damon Harrison
DT: Stacy McGee
DE: Mike Catapano

Summary: The once greatly feared Minnesota defensive line was limited to just 21 sacks in 2015. The loss of Karl Klug won’t make matters easier for a line that could now be better labeled as above average. The signing of Adam Carriker last year was thought to provide a boost and solidify the defensive line last year, but he ended up being a major bust recording just 10 tackles and one sack all season. Damon Harrison and Mike Catapano had good seasons last year and will need to step their game up if Minnesota is going to hope for any serious production from their front four. Stacy McGee could be a pleasant surprise for the Freeze at the interior while Glenn Foster looks replaceable at one of the end spots.

Nashville Renegades 

Euclid Cummings – 6a

Marcus Hardison- 6aa

Mathias Kiwanuka – 8D

Justin Lawrence – 6aa

Mike Lewis – 7

Bryan Robinson -7

Jacques Smith – 6a

Projected Starters
DE: Mathias Kiwanuka
DT: Bryan Robinson
DT: Marcus Hardison
DE: Mike Lewis

Summary: The Renegades spent a pretty penny bringing in former NFL first round pick Mathias Kiwanuka. He seems capable of a handful of sacks, but likely won’t be worth the big contract he was signed to. Bryan Robinson and Mike Lewis are some quality AFL veterans who should fill in nicely with rookie Marcus Hardison looking to replicate his college production. Nevertheless, the team will miss its former cast of all-stars in Mark Anderson, Parys Haralson and Aubrayo Franklin.

New Orleans Nightmare 

Brandon Bourdreaux – 7c

Dwight Freeney – 10d

Tearrius George – 7

Danielle Hunter – 8aa

Anthony Johnson – 6aa

Ed Stinson – 7a

Derrick Summers -7

Brent Urban – 7a

Projected Starters
DE: Dwight Freeney
DT: Ed Stinson
DT: Tearrius George
DE: Danielle Hunter

Summary: The late season addition of Dwight Freeney in 2015 is looking like a genius signing. Even though he will be 36 when the season begins, the seven time NFL Pro Bowler still looks like a player capable of dominating in the pass rush and the best defensive linemen in the league. Freeney’s running mate looks to be rookie Danielle Hunter that had a lot of NFL GM’s intrigued by his athleticism where he was considered to be a second or third round pick and could be a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. The interior of the line isn’t nearly as impressive as the edge players, but Ed Stinson and Tearrius George should do an adequate job holding down the middle.

New York Marauders

John Chick – 8

Ryan Delaire – 7a

Cory Grissom – 6a

Lawrence Jackson – 7d

Amobi Okoye – 6aa

Leon Orr – 6aa

Chris Smith – 7a

Devon Still – 7c

DeAngelo Tyson – 7c

Max Valles – 6a

Joe Vellano – 9c

Projected Starters 
DE: John Chick
DT: Joe Vellano
DT: Devon Still
DE: Ryan Delaire

Summary: New York had one of the best defenses in the league last season will be asking more from the defensive line with the loss of All-SFL cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Adam Jones. John Chick was expected to have a major breakout year last season, but settled for just six sacks and looks like the hype has come down a bit. Rookie Ryan Delaire and Chris Smith look to share the duties at the opposite end from an overall lackluster group. Joe Vellano was the real surprise last season netting nine sacks in an All-SFL season, but it will be interesting to see if he can string together another year with such success. NFL veteran Devon Still will probably start next to Vellano and rotate with DeAngelo Tyson.

Orlando Rockets

Brian Arnfelt – 7c

Anttaj Hawthorne – 8

Wes Horton – 7aa

Charleston Hughes – 8

Malik Jackson – 8aa

Abry Jones – 7aa

Cordarro Law – 6aa

Shawn Lemon – 7aa

Almondo Sewell – 8

Jerrell Powe – 7c

Projected Starters
DE: Charleston Hughes
DT: Anttaj Hawthorne
DT: Almondo Sewell
DE: Malik Jackson

Summary: Jerrell Powe led the Rockets with a team leading seven sacks and the team looks to have further bolstered their line after trading for rising star Malik Jackson and future SFL Hall of Famer Anntaj Hawthorne. Charleston Hughes and Almondo Sewell return to fill out the rest of the line and give the Rockets a very good starting front four. Orlando also has very good depth with Brian Arnfelt, Shawn Lemon, and Abry Jones.

Philadelphia Bulldogs

Deion Barnes – 6a

Red Bryant – 9d

Michael Buchanan – 7

Quayshawne Buckley – 6a

Tyeler Davidson – 7a

Chris Jones – 9c

Gabriel Knapton – 7a

Jake Metz – 6a

Brian Mihalik – 6a

Caesar Rayford – 7

James Ruffin – 8

Terrance Taylor – 8

Frank Trotter – 6aa

Projected Starters
DE: Gabriel Knapton
DT: Chris Jones
DT: Red Bryant
DE: James Ruffin

Summary: All-SFL defensive tackle Chris Jones will be joined by NFL veteran Red Bryant giving the Bulldogs the best interior d-line in the league. Bryant will be replacing another veteran in Isaac Sopoaga and should provide a boost in the pass rush from the interior and defending the run. Returning starter James Ruffin produced only a sack last year and will be asked to step up his game or his job may be in jeopardy. Gabriel Knapton was a surprise in camp beating out several veterans for the starting job opposite of Ruffin. The Bulldogs have quality depth with Terrance Taylor, Tyeler Davidson, Michael Buchanan, and Cesar Rayford.

San Antonio Marshalls

Sam Acho – 8a

John Bowman – 8

Ryan Carrethers – 7aa

Jackson Jeffcoat – 6aa

Teddy Jennings – 7a

Derrick Lott – 6a

Ashaad Mabry – 6aa

Zach Minter – 8

Cedric Reed – 6a

Jeramie Richardson – 6a

Chris Whaley – 6a

Projected Starters
DE: John Bowman
DT: Ryan Carrethers
DT: Zach Minter
DE: Sam Acho

Projected Starters: The Marshalls drastically improved their pass rush last year behind linebackers Alex Okafor and Keenan Robinson who were two of the league pass rushers in the league to record double digit sacks. The Marshalls are hoping to go with more of a 4-3 look this year and are hoping that their pass rush doesn’t lessen. John Bowman looks to be playing in his more natural position at the edge in an even front and could have a big comeback year being paired with Sam Acho. Zach Minter looks to be more comfortable playing in an even front as well and should be much more productive with the massive Ryan Carrethers lining up next to him. Quality depth is an issue for the Marshalls d-line, but their starting front could play a large part in what fans hope is a bounce back year in 2016.

Seattle Orcas 

David Bass – 7a

Clifford Dukes – 7

Andrew Hudson – 6a

Corvey Irvin – 6aa

Zach Kerr – 8a

Andre Monroe – 6a

Darius Philon – 6aa

Derrick Shelby – 8a

Joe Sykes – 8a

Brandon Tett – 7a

Curtis Young – 6aa

Projected Starters 
DE: David Bass
DT: Zach Kerr
DT: Joe Sykes
DE: Derrick Shelby

Summary: The big challenge for the Orcas on the defensive line in 2016 will be to fill the void left by Pernell McPhee leaving for the NFL. There is talent to lessen the loss of McPhee, especially on the inside with Joe Sykes and Zach Kerr combining for eight sacks last year. It looks like Derrick Shelby will be asked to try and fill McPhee’s shoes, but it is unlikely he will be able to duplicate his success. At the other end David Bass will probably share time with Orca veteran Cliff Dukes.

Top 5 Defensive Linemen
1. Dwight Freeney, New Orleans Nightmare
2. Chris Jones, Philadelphia Bulldogs
3. Red Bryant, Philadelphia Bulldogs
4. Joe Vellano, New York Marauders
5. Malik Jackson, Orlando Rockets

Top 5 Paid Defensive Linemen
1. Dwight Freeney, New Orleans Nightmare – $2.5M
2. Darnell Dockett, Phoenix Scorpions – $2M
3. Mathias Kiwanuka, Nashville Renegades – $1.2M
4. Red Bryant, Philadelphia Bulldogs – $1M
5. Sam Acho, San Antonio Marshalls – $800K