Todd Grantham & LD Scott’s Defensive Line loses Sheldon Rankins & Pio Vatuvei from a year ago. Rankins was drafted in the 1st round by the New Orleans Saints & Vatuvei earned an invitation to try out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Moving into the 2016 season Grantham & LD’s D-Line has a lot of talent to replace Rankins & Vatuvei but they’ll have to do it by committee. Also before going into the individual players its important to note that these players DO NOT just play one position. Defensive Tackles, Defensive Ends will switch around based on formation need & Outside Linebackers will mix in at Defensive End at times too. We’ll cover the Outside Linebackers in the linebacker section, but it’s just important to note that before going further.
Overall Louisville’s Defensive Lineman are versatile can play many positions and give Todd Grantham & LD Scott lots of options when it comes to mixing & matching personnel based on situation. Also the Cards have enough bodies to remain fresh well into the 4th quarter. There is enough talent & experience to be comfortable, but it will likely be a little bit different than the last few years up front as several players will be counted on for expanded roles in 2016.
My Predicted Depth Chart
Drew Bailey (6-5, 285, Sr.)
Chris Williams (6-1, 285, Jr.)
Kordell Slater (6-4, 240, Fr.)
DeAngelo Brown (6-1, 310, R-Sr.)
Kyle Shortridge (6’2, 288, R-Jr.)
Derek Dorsey (6’3, 275, Fr.)
Tyler Robinson (5’11, 328, Fr.)
Johnny Richardson (6-3, 335, R-Jr.)
GG Robinson (6’4, 305, R-Fr)
Caleb Tillman (6’3, 272, Fr.)
It all starts with DeAngelo Brown. DeAngelo is the veteran of the group and elected to return for his senior season despite getting an NFL Draft grades in the 5th & 6th round by various outlets. As Louisville’s Nose Guard DeAngelo Brown takes up a ton of space and the Cards can credit a game saving tackle by DeAngelo on a scrambling Everett Golson that beat Notre Dame in 2014. Brown has been phenomenal in the middle of the Louisville defense and is what every coach running the 3-4 would like to have to begin building out their plan. Brown was limited during Spring but wasn’t held out entirely. That gave opportunity to players like Kyle Shortridge and Johnny Richardson to play more reps inside.
Kyle Shortridge & Johnny Richardson can both play the inside position and both players can swing out the End as well. DeAngelo Brown however won’t ever be anywhere other than the middle for UofL’s Defense. Shortridge has been in the program for sometime and started to really make an impact late last year. Kyle is a capable player and moves well, but has yet to crack the rotation for a major amount of game reps….that changes this year. Shortridge made the most of his opportunities last year.
Johnny Richardson is someone the fans should be getting excited about. As a freshman Richardson (also referred to as De’Asian) was able to play right away on a loaded defense, but the Cards lost Johnny in pre-season camp with a knee injury. De’Asian was able to return by late October, but having a player of this caliber healthy for an Spring, Summer, and into Fall Camp could be a really big lift to the Louisville Defense. If nothing else I’m personally excited to see what Johnny can do in 2016.
Drew Bailey primarily backed up Sheldon Rankins a year ago but looked good on the field when he had his chances to prove himself. Drew is going to have an increased role in 2016 so he’ll need to be ready for the workload. The Cards also got a big lift when they signed Northwest Missisippi CC’s Chris Williams. Williams comes from the same high school as Ja’Quay Savage & Shaq Wiggins and was the Defensive MVP of the Junior College National Championship Game. Chris enrolled this past January and has been on campus for Spring Practice and Summer Workouts. Between Bailey & Williams the Cards should have one Defensive End position in good shape. The Cards should be able to redshirt true freshman Kordell Slater from Port Charlotte, FL who also arrived in January and took part in Spring Practice as well.
One player who redshirted during 2015 and figures to be ready to breakout as a freshman is G.G. Robinson. G.G. is now 6’4, 305 lbs and chose the Cards over an extremely intense late push from his childhood favorite program Auburn where his father is the Tigers’ all-time leader in sacks & his a street on campus named after him. There are high expectations for G.G. and whether or not he’s fully ready to live up to those after a year in college will begin to be evident at the start of camp. We’ve already mentioned Johnny Richardson, but we can’t close this section without discussing the potential of Dothan’s Northview High School product Caleb Tillman. Here’s hoping that Louisville doesn’t NEED the services of Tillman in 2016 and his redshirt can be used to develop his game. But hearing early reports about his physicality Caleb may find himself on the field in 2016.
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