July 08, 2013
If you're thinking Kentucky's defensive line might be its strength this coming season, you're not alone. Edward Aschoff, over at ESPN's SEC Blog, ranked the Wildcats' defensive line as eighth best in the conference.
That's the highest Kentucky has been ranked so far as they go through each position group in the conference. They've covered quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and offensive line previously. We'll have a full summary for you looking at the rankings across every position by the end of the week.
UK returns Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph at defensive tackle, and they'll be entering their third year starting together. When injuries slowed Cobble last year, Tristian Johnson stepped in and became a starter down the stretch. He's also a senior.
Defensive ends Za'Darius Smith and Bud Dupree are newcomers (Smith from JUCO, Dupree from linebacker), but had strong springs and could be UK's best pass rush tandem in years.
There's a good bit of depth as well. Christian Coleman has played a fair amount, and redshirts Thomas Chapman and Patrick Graffree could win playing time. Jason Hatcher could help as a true freshman, and there's no shortage of bodies behind Smith and Dupree at end.
South Carolina, led by Jadeveon Clowney, was ranked No. 1 in the SEC.
I think the defensive line is an easy pick as Kentucky's best unit in preseason because of the returning experience, but I'm not convinced it will be the most productive group this year. The defensive line was a bit disappointing last season, and Rumph is still bouncing back from a shoulder injury. They'll have to stay healthy this year, which was an issue last season.