Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A look at the Baylor Bears Defensive Line Situation for 2016 and Beyond

The Baylor Bears were hit hard by graduation and the loss of several key junior college prospects this summer along the defensive line. However, they do have some interesting pieces to work with this year and in the future.

Earlier this offseason, I took a look at the offensive line and how it could look in 2016 and beyond. This time, the defensive line gets it turn. The Bears lost all four starters from their 2015 defensive line, including Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Andrew Billings.  In their place, the Bears are young and untested. 

Tackles

The Bears have only one player on the roster with starting experience in Byron Bonds, and his injury situation could keep him out for the first month of the season.  Morris and Lewis are the top two guys after him (along with Tyrone Hunt, who could play tackle or end).  Bravvion Roy was the highest rated player to stick with the Bears from the 2016 class, and he will have to play early and well for Baylor.  Luckily, he has the size, strength and ability to succeed in a large role this year.  

Both Michael Johnson and Will Jones would both be best suited for a red-shirt year, but that might not happen. Johnson is just 255 pounds, so he will need to continue to put on weight.  Jones is listed at 285, so he has good size to play quickly.  Walkon George Cody could also see time as a red-shirt freshman.  

Name
Stars
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Byron Bonds SR
Andrew Morris SO JR SR
Ira Lewis SO JR SR
Bravvion Roy FR SO JR SR
Michael Johnson Redshirt FR SO JR SR
Will Jones Not Ranked Redshirt FR SO JR SR

Ends

The Bears best defensive lineman is KJ Smith, and it really isn't close. A key reserve last year, Smith started several games in 2014 due to injures to Jamal Palmer.  He is their best pass rusher, and a guy that could break out this year.  After spring, Brian Nance was going to be starting on the other side, but Nance had to leave the team due to academic issues, so that leaves Jamie Jacobs, Xavier Jones, and Greg Roberts fighting for the other starting spot.   The Bears are young at the end position, and there is definite upside here. 

The player with the most upside though might be Tyrone Hunt, who has put on a ton of weight and is now listed at 280 pounds.  Hunt could be a major factor in the defensive tackle spot as well, and might even start next to Bonds or Morris in a 4-man front. However, with their lack of defensive tackles, could Hunt move outside to a 3-4 end?  

In all honestly, that might be a better position for Hunt, and one that would give the Bears a true 3-4 end to seal the edge and use his length to disrupt plays, similar to Shawn Oakman.  

Name
Stars
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
K.J. Smith JR SR
Jamie Jacobs SO JR SR
Greg Roberts SO JR SR
Xavier Jones SO JR SR
Tyrone Hunt rsFR SO JR SR

Overall, the Bears are very thin on depth at both positions, but it is young depth, unlike the offensive line.  I feel better about the defensive line in the coming years, but this season there could be quite a bit of learning moments for these young players. 


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