Big 12 pre-spring position rankings: DL

With spring ball less than a month away, we've been ranking the position groups in the Big 12. These evaluations are based on past performance, future potential and quality depth of the entire group. Our outlooks will probably look different after the spring. But this is how we see them at the moment.

We continue this series with the defensive line:

1. Oklahoma: There isn’t a clear-cut No. 1 defensive line in the Big 12 going into spring ball, but the Sooners get the nod by virtue of owning the most depth. Charles Walker is one of only two returning All-Big 12 defenders after recording six sacks and 10 tackles for loss last season. Matt Romar and Matt Dimon are returning starters. The Sooners also boast a trio of former ESPN 300 defensive linemen on the way up -- Ricky DeBerry, Neville Gallimore, Marquise Overton -- and a former Texas commitment Du'Vonta Lampkin.

2. TCU: End James McFarland is one of four defensive starters the Horned Frogs expect to get back from injury. McFarland led TCU in sacks two seasons ago. The Horned Frogs have last season’s sack leader returning as well (Josh Carraway), who closed out the season with sacks against Oklahoma, Baylor and Oregon. Chris Bradley and Aaron Curry have experience inside, and ESPN 300 signee Ross Blacklock could chip in on the rotation.

3. Kansas State: Will Geary was one of the top defensive tackles in the league as a sophomore, and end Jordan Willis finished second in the Big 12 with 9.5 sacks. Depth is a concern. But if athletic end Tanner Wood begins to live up to his potential opposite Willis, this could be a terrific unit.

4. Texas: Poona Ford was one of the better young defensive tackles in the country last season, and the Longhorns are banking he can become their next standout tackle in Year 3. Texas also signed a tremendous defensive line class this month, including ESPN 300 tackles Jordan Elliott, Chris Daniels and Marcel Southall. This will be a young group, but the upside across the board is off the charts.

5. Oklahoma State: Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year Emmanuel Ogbah is gone, but this has a chance to be a more balanced and perhaps better defensive line overall. Starting tackles Vincent Taylor and Motekiai Maile are back, as is Darrion Daniels, who shined as a true freshman. The Cowboys also have a pair of promising rising sophomores (Jarrell Owens and Jordan Brailford). Vili Leveni, once a projected starter inside, should rejoin the rotation after tearing his Achilles last summer.

6. West Virginia: The Mountaineers ranked second in run defense last season, and bring back two of their three starters (Noble Nwachukwu and Christian Brown). Nwachukwu was fifth in the Big 12 last season with 8.5 sacks. Veteran Darrien Howard seems ready to step in at nose guard in place of the outgoing Kyle Rose.

7. Iowa State: Tackle Demond Tucker figures to be the headliner for the Iowa State defense after earning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of Year honors last season. He will need help, though, and it’s unclear yet where exactly that will come from in coach Matt Campbell’s first season.

8. Baylor: The Bears lost their entire starting defensive line, including co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Andrew Billings, who declared early for the NFL draft. ESPN JC50 tackle Jeremy Faulk will have a chance to start immediately inside alongside rising senior Byron Bonds. At 300 pounds, fellow junior college signee DeQuinton Osborne will bring some much needed beef. The Bears will also be looking for former four-star recruit Brian Nance to step up and solidify one of the starting jobs at end.

9. Texas Tech: Once again, the Red Raiders were dreadful stopping the run last season. But at least they have a future cornerstone tackle in Breiden Fehoko, who received All-Big 12 honorable-mention recognition as a true freshman. With basically the rest of the two-deep up front moving on, Tech signed seven defensive linemen this month, including junior college transfer Mychealon Thomas, and all of them will have a chance to factor into the depth chart; so will a pair of transfers -- DE/LB Kolin Hill (via Notre Dame) and tackle Ondre Pipkins (via Michigan).

10. Kansas: End Dorance Armstrong delivered a promising true freshman season, and Daniel Wise started inside at a redshirt freshman. This month Kansas signed a pair of junior college tackles -- Isi Holani and DeeIsaac Davis -- who should bolster the rotation.