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2022 College Football Preseason Rankings: Top 25 interior defensive linemen

Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) in action against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to ramp things up in preparation for the 2022 college football season, as Week 0 is just over a month away.

Check out the recently released 2022 PFF College Football Preview Guide as well as further preseason positional rankings that will be rolled out over the next few weeks.

Below are PFF’s picks for the top-25 interior defensive linemen entering the 2022 college football season along with some superlatives at the end, including the biggest projections and sleepers.

Note: This ranking does not consider NFL potential

Rank Player, School
1 Jalen Carter, Georgia Bulldogs
2 Bryan Bresee, Clemson Tigers
3 Calijah Kancey, Pitt Panthers
4 Jaxon Player, Baylor Bears
5 Gervon Dexter, Florida Gators
6 Jacob Slade, Michigan State Spartans
7 Brandon Dorlus, Oregon Ducks
8 Jalen Redmond, Oklahoma Sooners
9 Jaquelin Roy, LSU Tigers
10 Colby Wooden, Auburn Tigers
11 Siaki Ika, Baylor Bears
12 Popo Aumavae, Oregon Ducks
13 Jermayne Lole, Louisville Cardinals
14 Jayson Ademilola, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
15 Byron Young, Alabama Crimson Tide
16 Mazi Smith, Michigan Wolverines
17 Jayden Jernigan, Missouri Tigers
18 Robert Cooper, Flroida State Seminoles
19 Corey Durden, NC State Wolfpack
20 Nesta Jade Silvera, Arizona State Sun Devils 
21 Dante Stills, West Virginia Mountaineers
22 Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin Badgers
23 Tyleik Williams, Ohio State Buckeyes
24 Jared Harrison-Hunte, Miami Hurricanes
25 Leonard Taylor, Miami Hurricanes


The Top Dog

1. Jalen Carter, Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia is losing a boatload of elite talent along its defensive front, but the team does return the clear-cut best interior defensive lineman in the country, as Carter — a 2020 five-star recruit — earned an 89.7 pass-rush grade that tied for first in the Power Five last season. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound interior defensive lineman also tied for first among that group in pass-rush win rate (18.5%) and finished second in pressure rate (13.4%). He was also one of the best performers against the run, as he posted the highest positively graded run play rate in the country by over four percentage points. Carter has a whole lot of power in his game and is “Exhibit A” of a special talent.


Biggest Projections

23. Tyleik Williams, Ohio State Buckeyes

The sheer number of high-end reps from Williams on just 184 snaps in his true freshman campaign is almost hard to believe. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound interior defender’s upper-body strength paired with his good hand placement for his age led him to a 75.4 PFF grade in his first season. The four-star recruit posted an 84.0 pass-rush grade, racked up 21 pressures on 114 rushes, batted a couple of passes, recorded 10 defensive stops and forced a fumble. Williams should be able to ease the loss of experienced veteran Haskell Garrett along the Buckeyes’ interior defensive line.

25. Leonard Taylor, Miami Hurricanes

Taylor was a 2021 five-star recruit who performed well as a freshman but is just scratching the surface. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound interior defender’s positvely graded run-play rate in 2021 would’ve led the ACC had he played enough snaps to qualify (29.3%). In all, he earned a 71.7 PFF grade across 200 snaps. If Taylor reaches his ceiling sooner rather than later, The U might boast one of the best defensive lines in the country.

Biggest Sleepers

6. Jacob Slade, Michigan State Spartans

The consistent Slade earned an 86.1 PFF grade for the Spartans last season, ranking third among Power Five interior defensive linemen. He also ranked in the top 10 nationally at the position in both pressures generated (40) and run stops (27) and was among six Power Five players at the position to earn grades above 75.0 as both a run defender and a pass-rusher.

7. Brandon Dorlus, Oregon Ducks

Dorlus deserves more love, as he’s one of the top 10 returning interior defensive linemen in the country. He is coming off a 2021 season in which he finished as one of college football's five most valuable interior defensive linemen with 0.29 PFF wins above average (WAA) generated.

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