Chat leftovers: Evaluating the line play

SoonerNation writer Jake Trotter chatted with readers Monday. Here's the full transcript. If you didn't get your question answered, send it to Jake's mailbag to be published on Friday.

Here are a few highlights from the chat:

Courtney (Little Wing, NM): Could this be the best class of WR recruits in CFB history? At least on paper, so far.

Jake Trotter: Since the advent of recruiting services, it's up there. At least on paper. OU basically is bringing in 4 of the Top 20 WRs, arguably the No. 1 WR from last year, and perhaps the No. 1 juco WR. Remember though, we were calling the 2008 haul the best WR class in OU history. The best of that group turned out to be Dejuan Miller, and he was a career backup. I like the potential of this group much better. But let's wait and see what happens.

David (Chicago): I am very confident in the OU offense this fall, how good do you think the defense can be?

Jake Trotter: The key will be the d-line. With Wort and Nelson, I feel good about the LBs, and I'm confident Mike Stoops will shore up a secondary that has some very good players (Jefferson, Hurst, Colvin). But I don't see a difference-maker up front (Alexander, Ronnell Lewis, Gerald McCoy) next season at the moment. Somebody has to step up for this defense to become elite. Jordan Phillips, R.J. Washington and Chaz Nelson, you're on the spot.

bubba (california): Aside from Ben Habern, Jaz Reynolds, and Dom Whaley, who else is expected to miss spring ball?

Jake Trotter: FB Aaron Ripkowski will be out. As of now, I believe that's it, though a couple more of the veterans will have come cleanups and sit out, I'm sure. If they don't get cleanups, I expect OU to take it easy with Kenny Stills, Tony Jefferson, Tom Wort and Brennan Clay, who all played hurt for much of the season.

Chase6I4 (kansas): who do you see starting at DE and who do you see in the rotation at DE?

Jake Trotter: David King and R.J. Washington are the favorites, with Chaz Nelson having a chance to unseat them. I feel like if the staff was confident Geneo and Chuka were ready to play, they wouldn't have gone out and signed a JUCO DE. Both Geneo and Chuka have talent, but I see King/Washington/Nelson opening the season as the top 3 ends.

Michael (Long Beach, CA): I'm probably in the minority on this, but the O-line still doesn't generate much confidence with me. They just some seem to be as tough and nasty as the 08 group. Do you see considerable improvement for next year?

Jake Trotter: I actually really like OU's o-line going into next season. Adam Shead is a rising star at guard, and I think he'll give the group some of that Duke Robinson toughness you mentioned. The group is really deep and experienced on the interior with Habern, Ikard, Evans, Shead, Irwin, Nila. The key will be tackle. Can Lane Johnson make a smooth transition to left tackle? And will someone step up on the right side (Williams, Thompson, Latu)?