Just as quarterbacks look like a weakness on offense in the Big 12, so too are defensive lines on that side of the ball. There are a handful of players who are legitimate stars along the defensive line, but stellar lines in general will be scarce. And once again, this bodes well for all of the powerful ground attacks that should take the field in this Big 12 this season.
1. TCU: Probable starters are Jon Koontz, Chucky Hunter, Davion Pierson, and Devonte Fields. Hunter, Pierson and Fields are returning starters. The latter two were freshman phenoms in 2012, and given that players typically improve most between their freshman and sophomore seasons, Pierson and Fields could be too much for most offensive lines to handle in 2013. Fields, in particular, is an outstanding pass rusher, much in the manner of former Texas A&M star Von Miller. Jon Lewis provides good depth inside.
2. Texas Tech: Probable starters are Kerry Hyder, Dennell Wesley, and Dartwan Bush. Returning starter Delvon Simmons transferred to Southern Cal, but this could almost be a case of addition by subtraction. Hyder is probably the best interior defensive lineman in the conference and Bush is one of its better pass rushers on the outside. Jackson Richards will be in the thick of this rotation as well.
3. Oklahoma State: Probable starters are Jimmy Bean, James Castleman, Calvin Barnett, and Tyler Johnson. Castleman, a former Texas Tech commitment from Amarillo, and Barnett, are returning starters. Barnett is Kerry Hyder's top competition for the title of best interior defensive lineman in the Big 12. Defensive end Bean looked good before suffering a season-ending injury midway through last season.
4. Texas: Probable starters are Jackson Jeffcoat, Malcolm Brown, Ashton Dorsey, and Cedric Reed. Defensive ends Jeffcoat and Reed are returning starters. Jeffcoat, along with TCU's Devonte Fields, is probable the best pass rusher in the Big 12. As per usual, Texas' other starters were high school All Everythings, but so far have not translated those accolades into D1 stardom.
5. Baylor: Probable starters are Terrance Lloyd, Javonte Magee, Beau Blackshear, and Chris McAllister. Defensive ends Lloyd and McAllister are returning starters, and both are good players, with McAllister a potential star. He was coming on toward the end of 2012.
6. West Virginia: Probable starters are Will Clarke, Shaq Rowell, and Kyle Rose. Clark and Rowell are returning starters with the six-foot-seven Clarke being the unit's bellwether. Given the likelihood that the Mountaineers will struggle severely on offense in 2013, West Virginia's hopes for a good season will pivot on the play of the defense.
7. Oklahoma: Probable starters are Mike Onuoha, Chuka Ndulue, Jordan Phillips , and Geneo Grissom. Tackle Nduleu is the only returning starter, but he's a good one. Nevertheless, the defensive line can hardly be classed a strength for the Sooners. And that fact, combined with Blake Bell's limitations at quarterback mean that Oklahoma could be one of the surprise teams in the Big 12. And not in a good way.
8. Iowa State: Probable starters are Willie Scott, Collin Bevins, Brandon Jensen, and Cory Morrissey. Only defensive end Scott is a returning starter. This group is hardly good enough to help make up for what should be an anemic Cyclone offense.
9. Kansas: Probable starters are Jordan Tavai, Ty McKinney, Keon Stowers, and Ben Goodman. Defensive end Tavai is the lone returning starter. Probable starter Chris Martin was arrested for armed robbery and dismissed from the team. At Kansas, the margin for success is slim, and the loss of a starter cuts it even narrower.
10. Kansas State: Ryan Mueller, Travis Britz, Chaquil Reed, and Marquel Bryant are probable starters. None are returning starters, and only Mueller, a former walk-on, played extensively last season. KSU's offense may have to carry the Wildcats until this group comes together. If it comes together.