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PFF Rankings: Highest-graded defensive linemen in college football through Week 2

By Brent Rollins
Sep 11, 2019

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Another week is in the books!  As we did a week ago, let’s take a look at the highest-graded defensive linemen in college football. Did anyone remain from last week?

INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Garrett Marino, UAB – 90.2

After a solid 2018 (70.3 grade) and Week 1 (79.3 game grade with five stops), Marino is now the highest-graded interior defensive lineman in college football. Marino has 10 total pressures and eight stops, with nine of those pressures, including three sacks, coming this past week. Those three sacks put him tied for first nationally among interior defensive linemen.

Forrest Merrill, Arkansas State – 89.9

After transferring to Arkansas State from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (yes, that’s correct), Merrill was one of the highest-graded interior defensive linemen in 2018, amassing 37 stops, nine total QB pressures, an 85.3 overall grade and 89.9 run-defense grade. Thus far in 2019, he’s picked up where he left off, with 11 stops and three total QB pressures, including two sacks, in two games thus far. He’ll face his toughest test of the season this week against a Georgia offensive line that features three of the five highest-graded linemen in the country through two weeks.

Jack Heflin, Northern Illinois – 86.4

Somewhat overshadowed a season ago given the presence of Sutton Smith (91.8 overall grade), the now redshirt junior is standing out as the leader of the Huskies’ defensive line.  While his raw numbers aren’t quite there yet, Heflin has six total pressures and three stops in two games. His 30.3 pass-rush win percentage rate ranks first among interior defensive linemen and fifth among all defensive lineman.

Jeremy Meiser, Old Dominion – 85.8

The first we see from last week’s list, Meiser again played well in Week 2 against a step up from Norfolk State in Virginia Tech. Through two weeks now, Meiser leads all interior defensive linemen with 12 total QB pressures even though he is still waiting to get his first sack. His 91.2 pass-rush grade is second among qualifiers at his position.

Marvin Wilson, Florida State – 84.5

Another repeat performer, not only is Wilson a consistent force, but he also plays a ton for the Seminoles. Wilson has the third-most snaps among all interior defensive linemen with 133, only four behind the leader. Through two games, Wilson has nine total QB pressures and six stops.  

EDGE DEFENDERS

Jabari Zuniga, Florida – 93.3

Florida’s schedule gets tougher this week, going against what so far has been a strong Kentucky offensive line, but Zuniga, and his teammate on the opposite edge, Jonathan Greenard, have dominated in the first two games. Zuniga has racked up 12 total QB pressures and seven stops so far this season. His pass-rush win percentage (28.6%) is currently 11th among all defensive linemen.  

Alex Highsmith, Charlotte – 92.5 grade

The highest-graded edge defender a week ago, Highsmith continued his excellent play in week 2. He now has 12 total QB pressures, including five sacks to go along with seven stops. His current pass-rush win percentage of 45% is tops among all defensive linemen and would shatter the previous season’s high if he continues that pace. In two weeks, our lead draft analyst Mike Renner will have his eyes on Highsmith and how he performs against the No. 1 Clemson Tigers.

Jonathan Greenard, Florida – 89.1 grade

Greenard and Zuniga have formed the nation’s best edge duo thus far. Coming off his dominating performance against Miami’s young offensive line in Week 0, Greenard only saw 20 snaps in Week 2 but still got to the quarterback. Through two games, he now has 10 total QB pressures and four stops. His 30.2 pass-rush win percentage is sixth among all defensive linemen.

Chase Young, Ohio State – 88.7 grade

After just missing out on this list in Week 1, one of the top returning defensive talents in college football is back among the top five. Through two games, Young has seven total QB pressures, including three sacks, five stops and has yet to miss a tackle. While not quite on his five-plus pressures per game pace from a season ago, expect his opportunities and pressures to increase as the Buckeyes get into their conference schedule.

Delontae Scott, SMU – 87.5 grade

A player to keep an eye as the weeks progress, Scott was solid in 2018 (75.3 grade, 37 total QB pressures and 25 stops) but has taken a leap forward early on this season. The senior has 12 total QB pressures, six stops and a forced fumble in two games thus far and has improved each season.

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