Atlanta Firebirds

DE/DT Christo Bilukidi – 6af

DE Lebron Daniel – 8

DT Dino Fanti – 6a

DT Ra’Shede Hageman – 7ac

DE Alex Hall – 7d

DT Grady Jarrett – 9a

DT Tanzel Smart – 7aa

DE Devin Taylor – 7ac

DT Joe Vellano – 8

DE Ethan Westbrooks – 8a$

Grady Jarrett has been a force on the line, but did take a slight step back on his pass rush finishing. He’s getting in the backfield, but just not sacks. Still, the pass rush ability is there and he is the force on then d-line next to Joe Vellano, who is still having success in the league. Vellano never ascended to the elite after his great 2015 season, but he’s still a very reliable guy at defensive tackle. Out on the ends Ethan Westbrooks is really coming into his own while Lebron Daniel was a nice addition last year who provides some good pass rush ability. The Firebirds don’t have a ton of depth at defensive end with NFL flameout Devin Taylor coming in with the hope of providing that third option. Alex Hall is at the end of his career and probably won’t play too much of a factor. On the inside, first round draft pick Tanzel Smart is a promising rookie would could push for opportunities right away. Ra’Shede Hageman is looking for a second chance after a domestic violence case ended his run in the NFL at just 27-years-old.

Birmingham Predators

DT Antwan Crutcher – 7

DE Tyler Drake – 7aa

DE Ken Ekanem – 6aa

DE Evan Foster – 6a

DE Carl Lawson – 7aaf

DE Dean Lowry – 8aa

DT David Onyemata – 8aa

DE Claude Pelon – 7aa

DE Luis Vasquez – 7d

David Onyemata and Dean Lowry lived up to the hype as rookie last season and come into their sophomore campaigns with even more hype. Those two are not just the future for the Predators, but also the present. And the team has some other nice young talent too. Claude Pelon is a nice promising defensive end entering his second season, but he will have to fight off rookie territorial draft pick Carl Lawson for the starting job. Either way, both guys should see the field a lot. Luis Vasquez still has a little bit left in the tank, but D-League signings Tyler Drake and Ken Ekanem are much better options. Vasquez could bump inside and serve as an undersized defensive tackle. Antwan Crutcher is the only other natural defensive tackle on the roster but isn’t anything special.

Carolina Generals

DT Josh Banks – 6aaf

DT Nazir Jones – 7aaf

DE Cleyon Laing – 8aaf$

DE Jake Metz – 8af

DT Mike Patterson – 8df

DT Padric Scott – 7a

DE Nick Seither – 6a

DE John Sheehy – 6a

DT Jason Stewart – 7d

It was a disappointing year for Cleyton Laing, who had only one sack in 2017, but he is still one of the best in the league and it wouldn’t be a shock at all if he had a big rebound in 2018. But even if he doesn’t rebound, Jake Metz has stepped up well as a dangerous pass rusher. Mike Patterson actually led the Generals in sacks a year ago, but he has slowed down quite a bit. Jason Stewart has as well. It’s amazing he is still playing at 37-years-old, but he could make the roster. But there are guys at the position with a lot more potential. Nazir Jones, Josh Banks and Padric Scott all could make the roster over him. There isn’t as much depth at defensive end. After Laing and Metz the team had to sign D-League ends Nick Seither and John Sheehy, who are alright, but nothing too special.

Charleston Dragons

DT Javon Hargrave – 8aaf

NT Daniel McCullers – 7aa

DT Pat O’Conner – 6aa

NT David Parry – 8aa

DT Bobby Richardson – 7aa

DT Carlos Watkins – 7aaf

DT Billy Winn – 8

DT Connor Wujciak – 6a

Charleston has loaded up on a lot of good, young defensive linemen over the past few seasons. Now things might really start clicking for them with David Parry and Javon Hargrave leading the way. Parry has taken over as the interior nose tackle, but even though he plays inside he led the team in sacks and hurry ups. Which is a very dangerous thing because interior pressure disrupts an offense way more than outside pressure. Javon Hargrove has taken huge steps forward entering his second season. He didn’t play a ton as a rookie but is going to one of their top guys this year. Daniel McCullers might to too good not to start after finishing second on the team in sacks a season ago. It will be interesting to see if he bumps Parry outside, because Hargrove is too big to be anything other than a nose tackle. Parry is a tad more versatile and could be a 3-4 defensive end. Bobby Richardson is a rising third-year player reach to make an impact as well, and Billy Winn will get some time as well. Regardless, all of them will be involved and the team will use a heavy rotation.

Columbus Explorers

DT Eli Ankou – 6aa

DT Collin Bevins – 6aa

DT Jake Ceresna – 6a

DT Quinton Dial – 8a$f

NT Ishmaa’ily Kitchen – 7d

DT Markus Kuhn – 7cd

NT Alemeda Ta’Amu – 7c

NT Vincent Taylor – 6aa

DT Dylan Wynn – 6aa

Quinton Dial has done really well, but they will really miss Beau Allen, who has consistently been one of the better defensive tackles in the league. With Dial, there is no worry that he won’t be really good for them, but without Allen he’s a one-man show. Ish Kitchen has really fallen off. Despite a strong camp last year he didn’t perform well during the season and he didn’t perform well in during this year’s training camp. Markus Kuhn, a and Alemeda Ta’Amy are both decent veterans but leave something to be desired. Kuhn has struggled a bit in camp and is starting to look his age. If none of those veterans can step up then maybe the Explorers will just have to go with their young prospects before they are ready. Vincent Taylor has played well in camp. Collin Bevins, Eli Ankou and Dylan Wynn are also flashing potential in camp, but they are all young guys who will make quite a few mistakes early on in their careers.

Dallas Six-Shooters

DE Alex Bazzie – 8a

DT Davon Coleman – 6a

DE Ja’Gared Davis – 7af

DE Jackson Jeffcoat – 7cf

DE Shaneil Jenkins – 6a

DT Darius Latham – 8aa

DT Lewis Neal – 6aa

DT Drake Nevis – 6a

Alex Bazzie has done very well, but he needs to make more of an impact as a pass rusher than he has been. Darius Latham was the top pass rusher last year, finishing with seven sacks and 20 hurries. He’s had a very strong training camp as well and should team up with Bazzie as a strong 1-2 punch on the d-line. Ja’Gared Davis is a quality defensive end who is coming off a solid season. He could be upgraded over, but he isn’t a bad starting option. Lewis Neal might get more playing time than desired as a rookie. He is raw but showing a lot of promise and there aren’t any better options. Jackson Jeffcoat is a 27-year-old who is still trying to get a foothold on his career, but has always been able to show flashed of ability.

Houston Wranglers

DT Andrew Billings – 7aaf

DE Ronald Blair – 7aa

DE Bryan Cox – 6aa

DT Euclid Cummings – 7c

DE Rashad Dillard – 6a

DT Bryan Hall – 7d

DE Phillip Hunt – 8

DT DaVonte Lambert – 7aa

DE Caesar Rayford – 7

DT Aziz Shittu – 6aa

DT Will Sutton – 7ai

Andrew Billings will be the centerpiece of the Houston Wranglers defense in time and he is on his way there. He’s a big and powerful and coming off a solid rookie season he’s had another good training camp. It might be fair to expect another big jump instead of suffering through a sophomore slump. Ronald Blair outperformed his status as an eighth round draft pick and had had another good training camp. Phillip Hunt is a solid veteran who led the team with six sacks a season ago, but has only been so-so in camp this year. Second-year player DaVonte Lambert and rookie Will Sutton seem to be battling it out for the second defensive tackle spot, but both figure to be involved anyway. It is also unclear if Euclid Cummings will end up in jail after some off the field issues that have yet to be disclosed. If he can’t play they Aziz Shittu might have an easier spot. Bryan Hall didn’t do much last season and is much older. The Wranglers love Bryan Cox Jr, whose father was a Wrangler, was the head coach last season and stepped down to be an assistant this year so he could work closer with his son. Caesar Rayford is still more impressive than d-league signing Rashad Dillard.

Iowa Threshers

DT Michael Brooks – 7aa

DE Fadol Brown – 6a

DE Matt Conrath – 7d

DT Faith Ekakitie – 6aaf

DL Ziggy Hood – 9c

DE Farrington Huguenin – 6a

DT Anthony Johnson – 6ac

DT Jaleel Johnson – 7aaf

DT Darius Kilgo – 6ac

DE Karter Schult – 6aa

DE Derrick Summers – 7d

Ziggy Hood is an interesting player. He’s very talented, but hasn’t quite performed up to what his talent has ever said. Maybe the move into a 3-4 defense will help him be more productive. In Columbus he was constantly double-teamed on the edge. He will still face double teams in Iowa, but should have easier matchups on the interior. At least they better hope he will dominate because it is a significant drop off in talent after him. Jaleel Johnson is a quality rookie with a lot of potential. He and Michael Brooks have been going through a nice battle. Brooks is a bit older, but also entering his prime. He is on his third team in three years after being an expansion draft pick, but he is not a guy his former team gave up on. He was a pick from the Stars, which Threshers owner Eric Murray also owns. That more says he is confident in Brooks’ ability to be a factor helping his expansion team’s defense. Derrick Summers and Matt Conrather and decent veterans at defensive end, but if they are the best the Threshers have the will really struggle putting together a consistent pass rush. D-League signing Karter Schult is coming off a really strong performance this winter and might be given a great opportunity. Anthony Johnson and Darius Kilgo have a few years under their belt but have yet to stand out at all at defensive tackle. Rookie Faith Ekakite might be be better than both of them already.

Los Angeles Stars

DE Trey Flowers – 8aa

DT Kyle Peko – 6aa

DT Caraun Reid – 7aa

DE Roy Robertson-Harris – 6aa

DE Davis Tull – 6a

DT Eddie Vanderdoes – 7aa

DE Jamaal Westerman – 10$

For the Stars, their defense starts and ends with Jamaal Westerman, who was a Defensive Player of the Year finalist last season after finishing with 12 sacks and 10 more hurry ups with 70 tackles. His presence also makes the man opposite him better, but Trey Flowers does have a lot of talent as well. They are one of the best defensive end duos in the league. Between them Caraun Reid is a better pass rusher than his three sacks might show. Reid only had three sacks in 2017, but he had 18 hurries in 2017. However, he is a run-stuffer and a guy who will take up blocker more than get a lot of stats. That helps those guys on the end. Second-year man Kyle Peko and rookie Eddie Vanderdoes both look good in their battle for the second starting defensive tackle spot. There isn’t much that separates the two. Vanderdoes might have the lead, but it will probably come down to preseason performance. Regardless, both will play.

Louisville Cougars

DT Red Bryant – 8.d

DT Ryan Glasgow – 7aa

DE Darius Hamilton – 6ai

DT Cory Johnson – 7aa

DE Gabriel Knapton – 8a

DE Mike Lewis – 7c

DE Anthony Spencer – 8.di$

Louisville can be happy with their defensive line. They have a strong mix of good veterans, guys coming into their own and guys budding with potential. They might not have one dominant guy, but a strong collection of guys who will all contribute. The two elder statesmen are defensive tackle Red Bryant and defensive end Anthony Spencer. Both are entering their mid-30s and are coming up on the end of their career, but can still give solid contributions. However, the rise of Gabriel Knapton and Cory Johnson will make for smooth transitions into the power of the defensive line. Johnson led the team with six sacks last season, an impressive number for a defensive tackle who is just 25-years-old. Knapton is a physical freak on defensive end. He has some pass rushing ability, but he’s a more a big-strong run-stuffer who will push powerful offensive tackles back off the line. Ryan Glasgow is a really talented rookie who could push Bryant out of the starting lineup by the end of the season. Mike Lewis is a solid veteran who can come in, in certain situation. Darius Hamilton was a very, very, very highly recruited college recruit, but injuries derailed his career. They are hoping he will live up to that great potential now that he is finally getting healthy.

Memphis Bombers

NT Beau Allen – 9a

DE John Chick – 8.df$

DE Greg Hardy – 9a

DE Danielle Hunter – 8aa

DE Donte Paige-Moss – 7a

DE Ian Seau – 6

DT Watson Tautuiaki – 10f

DE Frank Trotter – 6

DT Adolphus Washington – 8aa

Watson Tautuiaki is the most unlikely star in this league. Nobody knew who he was when he signed with the Louisville Cougars out of Ohio as a rookie. After his success there they weren’t even sure if he could keep it up and traded up. But the guy keeps dominating. He’s big and quick and is coming off a 13-sacks, 22-hurry season in 2017. He is a dominant force in the middle of the defensive line, a defensive line that has a ridiculous amount of talent. This offseason the Bombers acquired Beau Allen in a trade. He was becoming a star in Columbus and at 26-years-old he is in his prime. But don’t forget about Adolphus Washington. He was another guy acquired through a trade with Columbus. He came in last year and had a solid rookie season and has followed it up with a very impressive sophomore training camp. At defensive end, the Bombers will have to start accepting that the 35-year-old John Chick just can’t get into the backfield like he could even only a few years ago. Last year he still managed seven sacks, a very respectable number, but started disappearing toward the end of the season. But that is fine because Greg Hardy, the big, mean bully who basically got kicked out of the NFL, is a gifted player coming off an 11-sack season despite coming in super late and after camp last season. Danielle Hunter joins Memphis through a trade with New Orleans. He really disappointed last year, but is only 23 and is still oozing with potential. Don’t expect much of anything from Ian Seau or Frank Trotter, though.

Michigan Stags

DE Shilique Calhoun – 7aaf

DT Alan-Michael Cash – 7

DT Willie Henry – 7aaf

DE Matt Judon – 9aaf

DT Ted Laurent – 9

DT Jeremiah Ledbetter – 6aa

DE Tristan Okpalaugo – 6a

DE Za’Darius Smith – 7aa

Ted Laurent has been a force in the middle of the Stags defensive line for a few seasons but Matt Judon is taking over as the star. Judon had a remarkable rookie year and took another big step forward in his second training camp. Maybe not this year, but it wouldn’t at all be a surprise to see him be considered for a Defensive Player of the Year award in the near future. Ad he is far from the only young talent on the defensive line. It’s mostly a young group outside Laurent and Alan-Michael Cash at defensive tackle. Cash is 30 and a solid middle of the road defensive tackle., but could be pushed by Willie Henry this season. Michigan has been very patient developing Henry and he’s starting to take some positive steps forward. Jeremiah Ledbetter is a rookie showing promise inside too. At defensive end, Judon is the pass rusher but Za’Darius Smith is a solid edge-setter. He will probably never be much of a pass rusher, but he’s patient and has good technique feathering runners. He and Shilique Calhoun are going through a tough battle and the winner will likely only be declared after the preseason games.

Minnesota Freeze

DE Mike Catapano – 8

DE Glenn Foster – 8

DL David Irving – 8aa

DT Izaah Lunsford – 6a

NT DJ Reader – 7aa

DT Shamar Stephen – 7aa

DE Jeremiah Valoaga – 6aa

Mike Catapano and Glenn Foster have been solid players for the Freeze for a while. They aren’t stars, but they are really good. However, David Irving is starting to step up as the star of the group. Irving is entering his third season and took a big step forward in training camp. DJ Reader and Shamar Stephen are also big guys inside who are taking positive steps forward and are showing potential. Those three should make for a solid rotation inside. Jeremiah Valoaga might be a year away from providing a third option at end, but currently he is the third option.

Mississippi Cottonmouths

DE Tobi Antigha – 7aa

DT Kenyon Brantley – 6a

DE Hunter Dimick – 6aa

DT DJ Jones – 6aaf

DE Mike Neal – 8.d$

DE Michael Sam – 7a

DT Jake Thomas – 7a

DT Bryant Turner – 7c

While Mike Neal is still playing well, he is starting to slow down. But for this expansion team, he is going to be a nice leader for this defensive line. However, it is not really a young defensive line as they added quite a few CFL guys. Among those CFL players, defensive end Tobi Antigha and defensive tackle Jake Thomas have performed well and could be in line for starting jobs. Thomas is three years younger than Bryant Turner, but Turner could still contribute in a rotation. Rookie territorial pick DJ Jones underwhelmed in the D-League, but is still showing solid potential. Kenyon Brantley and Hunter Dimick also played in the D-League and both might need a full season before they can become contributors. Michael Sam finally got back on the field last year and performed fairly well actually. He could be a solid third pass rushing option for the team.

New Orleans Nightmare

DE David Bass – 7a

DE Freddie Bishop – 8$

DT Ettore Lattanzio – 6a

NG Willie McGinnis – 9f

DE Charles Tapper – 6aa

DT Jonathan Taylor – 6a

DT Brent Urban – 9af

DE James Vaughters – 7aa

Willie McGinnis and Brent Urban make up the best duo of defensive tackles in the league. Both guys are not only big-bodied run-stuffers, but also pass rushers. Last season both McGinnis and Urban each had eight sacks. Urban has been a high-riser for a while and could be an All-SFL First-Team Player in 2018. He can also play defensive end, but the Nightmare have some good edge players. Freddie Bishop might not be much of a pass rusher, but he is a very good edge-setter who finished last season with 56 tackles. James Vaughters is a really good CFL defensive end who can get into the backfield. David Bass didn’t play much in Seattle but has potential. Charles Tapper basically had a redshirt rookie season but should be seeing more playing time in his second season.

New York Marauders

NT TJ Barnes – 6a

DT/DE Zach Evans – 7a

DT Woodrow Hamilton – 6aa

DT Treyvon Hester – 6aa

NT Justin Lawrence – 6a

NT Michael Pierce – 8aa

DT Patrick Ricard – 7aa

DT/NT DeAngelo Tyson – 7d

New York is moving to a 3-4 defense, away from the 4-3 alignment they have used for so long. Michael Pierce is a tremendous nose tackle. The 340-pounder was arguable the team’s best defensive player during his rookie year and took a nice step forward this year. Zach Evans also returns from last year’s unit. Later in the season Evans got opportunities and performed at a high enough level that the team needed to figure out how to get him more time. He was part of the reason for the change in defense. He’s a big, but quick defensive tackle who can set the edge and get into the backfield. The third starting spot was supposed to go to NFL veteran Arthur Jones, but he abruptly retired before training camp even though he signed a new contract with the team. That likely means first round draft pick Patrick Ricard won’t have any grooming period and will have to jump in right away. DeAngelo Tyson is back on a much better contract. Management does like him and he could start early on even though his performance has been dipping the last few years. Woodrow Hamilton and rookie Treyvon Hester both show potential but shouldn’t be more than backups this year.

Omaha Express

DE Jason Ankrah – 6af

DE Kwaku Boateng – 7aa

DE Da’Quan Bowers – 8i

DT Adam Butler – 6aa

DT Landon Cohen – 6a

DE Jack Gangwich – 6aa

DL Xzavie Jackson – 7

DT Micah Johnson – 7

DT Amobi Okoye – 6i

DE Delvon Simmons – 6a

DE Odell Willis – 8.d

Omaha struggled to create much of a pass rush last season and haven’t upgraded too much, however, Kwaku Boateng has been really dangerous. The rookie had 16 sacks in the D-League and has looked great in training camp. He very well may lead the team in sacks even as a rookie. While Da’Quan Bowers and Odell Willis might the veteran experience, both are on the downside of their careers and were not particularly effective last year, though both could still make an impact this year. Jack Gangwich has some potential, but is likely a year away from being a factor. Jason Ankrah is a fan favorite but is just a backup. On the inside, the team doesn’t have any playmakers. Xzavie Jackson and Micah Johnson are decent, but nothing special. Adam Butler is showing nice potential and may end up starting by the end of the season.

Orlando Rockets

DE Tashawn Bower – 6aa

DT Caleb Brantley – 6aaf

DT Brandin Bryant – 6a

DE Jonathan Bullard – 8aaf

DE Charleston Hughes – 8.df

DE Willie Jefferson – 8a

DT Nile Lawrence-Sample – 6aa

DE Shawn Lemon – 7.d

DT Almondo Sewell – 10f

DT Justin Vaughn – 6a

DE Michael Wakefield – 6aa

Almondo Sewell was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 after a dominant season in which he racked up 13 sacks. Sewell is a game-changer in the middle of the field, but Orlando has plenty of player to help ease the load off him. Jonathan Bullard is another big-body who can play both defensive end and defensive tackle. Typically he lines up inside and makes for a strong pass-rushing duo on the inside for the Rockets. He was second on the team with nine sacks a year ago. On the outside Willie Jefferson and Charleston Hughes are a nice veteran duo. Hughes has been in Orlando for quite a while and while he’s starting to drop off he is still quite effective. Jefferson is younger and rising, but equally effective. That starting four is one of the strongest in the league but the team should be worried about depth. Caleb Brantley and Nile Lawrence-Sample both have potential at defensive tackle, but might not be ready for quality roles yet. Luckily, the Rockets don’t expect to take Sewell or Bullard off the field very much. On the edge, Shawn Lemon is more of an edge-setter than anything, but has a poor camp. Tashawn Bower is showing potential. Michael Wakefield was successful in the D-League.

Philadelphia Bulldogs

DE Brandon Copeland – 8a

DT Tyeler Davidson – 7aa

DT Chris Jones – 7a

DE Carl Nassib – 8aaf

DE James Ruffin – 8.d

DE Garrett Sickles – 6aa

NG Terrance Taylor – 7

DE/DT Anthony Zettel – 7aaf

DT Zach Zidian – 6a

Carl Nassib is one of the budding young start on the defensive line in the league. He was a force for the Bulldogs, finishing third on the team with 70 tackles while tying for the lead with five sacks and 11 hurries. He also led the team with 11 tackles for a loss. Nassib might be a Defensive Player of the Year at some point. It probably won’t be this year, but he has had a great camp and could be headed for another really big year. The 31-year-old James Ruffin took a step back last year and is starting to slow down, but should still be a very nice player for the Bulldogs. But Ruffin could have a run for his money as a starter with the rise of Brandon Copeland. He played very well last year and has had another strong training camp. Regardless, along with the talented and rising Anthony Zettel, the Bulldogs have a quarter of edge defenders they can rely on. In the middle is a big more of a question who will play. Zettel is big enough to be moved inside, but would be undersized at defensive tackle. Tyeler Davidson has a really strong camp and Chris Jones also played well. Terrance Taylor is a solid player but nothing special.

Pittsburgh Forge

DT Sheldon Day – 6aa

DT Davon Godchaux – 7aa

DE Jason Jones – 8.d

DE Anthony Lanier – 6aa

DT Kyle Love – 9f

DE Jabar Westerman – 7a

Kyle Love was everything the Forge hoped last season as he led them with eight sacks and 20 hurries. Love is 31-years-old, so he probably won’t be getting any better, but anything close to that sort of production would be welcome. His top d-line mate if another older player, Jason Jones. Jones was a veteran’s combine success story from last season. He accepted the Forge’s invitation, they accepted their contract and finished with 51 tackles and four sacks. He also probably won’t be getting better, but he was pretty successful. Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and defensive end Jabar Westerman are two younger players showing nice potential and ability in camp. Godchaux is a well-regarded second round draft pick. Sheldon Day and Anthony Lanier are starting to come into their own as second-year players.

San Antonio Marshalls

DT John Bowman – 9.df

DT Ryan Carrethers – 9f

DE Vontarrius Dora – 6aa

DE Teddy Jennings – 10f

DE Ufomba Kamalu – 6aa

DT Ashaad Mabry – 6aa

DE Chris Odom – 6aa

DE Owa Odighizuma – 6aa

DT Hassan Ridgeway – 6aaf

DT Isaac Rochell – 6aa

John Bowman, Ryan Carrethers and Teddy Jennings make up the most dominant defensive line trio in the SFL. Jennings won the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year award after racking up 13 sacks with 13 hurries and 10 Tackles for a loss. Simply, the got into the backfield a lot and made a lot of plays. Bowman is getting up there in age, but is still a very good player. He had 55 tackles, nine sacks and 19 hurries in 2017. Carrethers took a major step back in 2017, but it wasn’t long ago when he was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and First-Team All-SFL selection in 2016. He’s still in his prime and still a dominant force. This trip is a good as they come, but quality depth might be a slight issue early on.The Marshalls have a lot of talented guys with potential, bot no proven depth. Vontarrius Dora and Ufomba Kamalu are second-year players who are playing well in camp. Chris Odom was a fourth round pick this year who also is playing well. Even free agent signing Owa Odighizuma has done well, but none of them have stood out. The preseason games will determine who of the group gets playing time. Ashaad Mabry and Hassan Ridgeway are battling to determine the primary backup at nose tackle. Again, preseason will determine a lot for the depth in San Antonio.

San Diego Diablos

DT Michael Bennett – 6aai

DE Justin Capicciotti – 7aai

DT Christian Covington – 6aa

DT Mathieu Duphuis – 6aa

DT Shakir Soto – 6aa

DE Deatrich Wise Jr. – 7aa

CFL veteran Justin Capicciotti and rookie Deatrich Wise Jr. are making up an impressive pass-rushing duo in San Diego. Capicciotti is still pretty young too, and both had very strong preseasons and could have really nice years leading the Diablos pass rush. In between those two MIchael Bennett and Christian Covington have the slight experience advantage, though both Mathieu Duphuis and Shakir Soto had solid D-League performances. Depth, however, is really going to be a problem for the Diablos. They will likely be active signing talent after the veteran’s combine.

Seattle Orcas

DE Andrew Hudson – 6aaf

NT Zach Kerr – 10f$

DE Romeo Okwara – 7aa

DE Darius Philon – 7aa

DT Elijah Qualls – 6aa

DE Khreem Smith – 8

DT Destiny Vaeao – 7aa

DE Tourek Williams – 7

Zach Kerr stepped up huge last season and is the anchor of a strong defensive line in a great defense. Kerr had 42 tackles with 13 sacks, 14 hurries and five tackles for a loss in 2017. He’s followed that up with a really strong training camp as well. He’s in the very prime of his career. The team also has a nice group of defensive ends as well. Khreem Smith is a very reliable edge-setter. He’s not much of a pass rushing threat, but Romeo Okwara and Darius Philon both had very good training camps and should be even bigger pass-rushing threats after having five sacks each last year. Andrew Hudson has a nice D-League season with 12 sacks and 67 tackles. Tourek Williams is a reliable backup veteran. Destiny Vaeao had a strong camp playing inside next to Kerr. Elijah Qualls is a nice prospect.

St. Louis Stallions

DT Josh Augusta – 6aaf

DT Marcus Hardison – 7ac

DE Joe Kruger – 7c

DE Dawuane Smoot – 7aa

DT Joe Sykes – 7dc

DE Max Valles – 6aa

DE Terrence Waugh – 6aa

The New York Marauders immediately expressed regret that they did not protect Max Valles in the expansion draft. Valles didn’t play too much, but was thought to be in line to start as an outside pass rusher. He will start in St. Louis after a strong camp, but Dawuane Smoot is the real standout in camp. The Illinois graduate very well may lead the team in sacks as a rookie. Joe Kruger has bounced around the league and is just a backup, though, a quality backup. Terrence Waugh impressed in the D-League as a pass rusher. On the inside, Joe Sykes is 35-years old and slowing down, but still a reliable guy. Marcus Hardison really disappointed in Phoenix last season but is still young enough and may rebound with his third team in three years. Josh Augusta is a nice local prospect who needs some time to develop.

Utah Raptors

DE Ugonna Awuruonye – 6a

DE Darryl Cato-Bishop – 7

DT Joel Heath – 7aa

DT Nick Hayden – 8.d$

DE Paul Kruger – 8.dc$f

DT Junior Luke – 6aa

DT Helva Mantungulu – 6aa

DE Ifeadi Odengibo – 7aa

DE George Selvie – 7c

DT Grover Stewart – 6aa

DT Bryan Robinson – 7d

DT Gabe Wright – 7aa

A team that two years ago has one of the most dominant pass rushes in the league might have one of the worst this year. Paul Kruger is a hometown hero who had some really good years in the NFL but has seen his performance drop off dramatically the past few years. Maybe at a level down he can be good, but he probably won’t come close to double-digits. After him it might be aging veteran George Selvie starting, though rookie Ifeadi Odengibo could get the start right away based on his potential, but he’s rough around the edges. Darryl Cato-Bishop is a pass-rushing specialists backup at best. The team has much more depth in the middle, but not necessarily quality depth that will make a huge impact right away. It’s a lot of prospects. Nick Hayden is the veteran of the group but he was a big disappointment last season after the organization traded for him. Bryan Robinson is also a veteran, but has likely missed his opportunity to start in this league. It is more likely the team starts one of their young prospects. Joel Heath and Gabe Wright are ahead of the pack now. Heath is a second-year draft pick while Wright was plucked off a NFL practice squad. Junior Luke and Grover Stewart are two well-regarded rookies showing potential.

Washington Wave

DE Frank Beltre – 8a

DE Trent Corney – 7a

DT Quinton Jefferson – 6aaf

DT Cullen Jenkins – 8.d$

DE Ivan McLennan – 6aa

DE Yannick Ngakoue – 9aaf

DT Eddie Steele – 7

DT Derek Wiggan – 6aa

DE Martez Wilson – 7c

Yannick Ngakoue is going to be a star in the league and has had a tremendous camp. Don’t expect a sophomore slump with this guy. He should lead the team in sacks in 2018. But Frank Beltre, the team’s leader in sacks last season, is still playing well. They are a reliable duo on the edge while Trent Corney and Ivan McLennan are good depth players who will get snaps. McLennan had a solid D-League while Corney bring experience and is more of an edge-setter. At defensive tackle, it would be foolish to expect and aging Cullen Jenkins to tie for the team lead in sacks again, but he is still a big-bodied veteran who can hold up in the trenches. Eddie Steele is another solid veteran, though nothing too special. Quinton Jefferson and Derek Wiggan are the young guys inside who have had nice flashes in camp, but are not ready to unseat the two veterans yet.

SFL Top 5 DL

1. NT Zach Kerr, Seattle Orcas

While Ted Jennings was the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, Zach Kerr might actually be the best defensive linemen in the league. Kerr had 42 tackles, 13 sacks and 14 hurries while leading the league’s best defense last season. At just 27-years-old, he is ready to dominate.

2. DT Almondo Sewell, Orlando Rockets

Another guy from a more dominant defense over the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year. Sewell has 13 sacks last year and anchored the the second-best run defense. Sewell has been an anchor for the Rockets for a while and looks to continue his reign of dominance.

3. DE Ted Jennings, San Antonio Marshalls

Here is the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, but ranking third doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the very best in the league. Jennings had tremendous numbers in 2017 with 65 tackles, 13 sacks, 13 hurries and 10 tackles for a loss. He was also a big factor in the Marshalls turnaround the past few years. Yes, they got Bo Levi Mitchell on the offense, but their defense has gone from one of the worst in the league to one of the best. They ranked fifth in point allowed last season, though they do give up a lot of yards.

4. DE Jamaal Westerman, Los Angeles Stars

Another great pass rusher who turned around a team’s defense. In 2016 the Stars had one of the worst defenses in the league and missed the playoffs despite having Kirk Cousins and Lamar Miller dominating. But last season Jamaal Westerman had 70 tackles, 12 sacks, 10 hurries and seven tackles for a loss and the Stars finished in the top half of the league in defense and made the playoffs.

5. DT Watson Tautuiaki, Memphis Bombers

The most unlikely star in the league, Watson Tautuiaki keeps dominating. After the Louisville Cougars figured his strong 2016 performance was a fluke, they traded him to Nashville and he had an even better season, racking up 48 tackles, 13 sacks and 22 hurries. Who can bet against this guy?

By The Numbers
Total DL: 237
10 Rating: 10 (4.2%)
9 Rating: 12 (5.1%)
8 Rating: 48 (20.3%)
7 Rating: 81 (34.2%)
6 Rating: 86 (36.2%)