With two months to go until the start of fall camp, we're going to count down our 30 most important UCLA players for the 2016 season. These are the players we think are going to have the most significant impact for UCLA this year, so don't take this to mean that these are the players we think are the best long-term prospects, or even necessarily the most talented. Every BRO staffer has ranked his top 30 UCLA players, and from that we've drawn an aggregate list.
Today we'll continue with No. 20.
20. Matt Dickerson, Junior Defensive End
2015 Statistics: 38 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack
Why He's Important: One of the biggest developments of the offseason for UCLA was the defensive shift to a 4-3 front, and that development is mostly significant for what it means for UCLA's personnel usage. While the Bruins often used four-man fronts in nickel situations last year, most of the time the defensive line was using a very undersized Deon Hollins as the fourth defensive lineman. Heck, even in what were ostensibly 3-4 formations, Hollins was so often lined up as more or less a defensive end that most distinctions between a 3-4 and a 4-3 become academic. Having Hollins as that fourth lineman pressed up to the line of scrimmage did nothing to help UCLA's porous run defense a year ago.
So, UCLA is philosophically switching to a 4-3, but what it really means is that the Bruins are committing to bulking up on the line of scrimmage. So, exit Deon Hollins, enter all 275+ pounds of Matt Dickerson. The junior defensive end actually played a lot of three-technique last year, filling in for Eddie Vanderdoes after he went down with an ACL tear. He looked pretty natural there as an interior pass rusher, but he has also played some defensive end throughout his career, so the move makes some sense, particularly with the coaching staff's desire to get bigger up front. Effectively, Takkarist McKinley, at 250-ish pounds, is now the "small" defensive end, rather than Hollins at 220-ish pounds.
It's going to be interesting to see how Dickerson performs this year at end. He actually looked natural enough on the interior last year that we thought it might be his best long-term position, especially considering how effective he was rushing the passer from the three-tech. If he can translate some of his interior moves to the outside, he could provide some form of pass rush, and even if he doesn't, his sheer size and strength should make him a more effective run stopper than Hollins was a year ago. Given how bad UCLA's run defense was last year, anyone who stands to significantly improve it through his sheer presence deserves a spot on this list.
What's Been Said About Him:
"Matt Dickerson is about 290 pounds and he's giving the tight ends fits. He's playing physical and giving a strong rush off the edge. Matt is doing really well playing outside." -- DL Coach Angus McClure, April 7, 2016
Most Recent Interview:
30 Most Important Bruins for 2016
|Rank||Name||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|20||Matt Dickerson||15 (John Evergreen)||29 (Tracy Pierson)|
|21||Randall Goforth||12 (John Evergreen)||29 (Blair Angulo)|
|22||Austin Kent||17 (Blair Angulo)||30 (John Evergreen)|
|23||Bolu Olorunfunmi||13 (Dave Woods)||Unranked (Blair Angulo)|
|24||Deon Hollins||15 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (Dave Woods)|
|25||Darren Andrews||12 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (2-way tie)|
|26||Kenny Walker||13 (Blair Angulo)||Unranked (2-way tie)|
|27||Mike Fafaul||11 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (3-way tie)|
|28||Josh Woods||23 (Blair Angulo)||Unranked (2-way tie)|
|29||Keisean Lucier-South||14 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (3-way tie)|
|30||Nate Meadors||20 (John Evergreen)||Unranked (2-way tie)|